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Harbaugh brothers stage dramatic Super Bowl

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Harbaugh brothers stage dramatic Super Bowl

NEW ORLEANS (AP) It sounded as if John Harbaugh was happy his Ravens nearly blew a three-touchdown lead in the Super Bowl.

The fact that Baltimore had to hold on the stressful way, with a defensive stand near its own goal line inside the final two minutes of a 34-31 victory, meant that the triumphant coach's younger brother had done pretty well, too, in the biggest game of either of their lives.

``I just knew with Jim Harbaugh being on the other sideline and all of those years we have been together that game was going to be a dog fight right to the end,'' John Harbaugh said. ``Those guys were coming back. There's no greater competitor and no greater coach in the National Football League or in the world, as far as I'm concerned, than Jim Harbaugh. The way that team played proves it. ... That is who he is and that is who they are.

``I could not be more proud of him.''

With their parents watching from a private suite in the Superdome, the Harbaugh brothers put on a championship game to remember.

First, it was the Ravens who raced to a 28-6 lead after Jacoby Jones returned the second-half kickoff a Super Bowl-record 108 yards for a score.

Then, came a power outage, which delayed the game for 34 minutes. With the players sitting on their benches or stretching near the sideline as they waited for play to resume, Jim Harbaugh went to work.

His 49ers went on a surge of their own, and younger brother Jim had John on the ropes. The 49ers closed to 31-29 in the fourth quarter missing a 2-point conversion that would have tied it. The Niners were down only 34-29 when they had a first-and-goal on the 7 in the final minutes, but couldn't quite pull off what would have been the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history, and the Ravens took a late safety in their effort to wind down the final seconds.

The short postgame embrace between the Harbaugh brothers, in which Jim briefly touched John's face, ``was probably the most difficult thing I've ever done, ever been associated with in my life,'' John said.

``Jim is a great competitor,'' John Harbaugh added. ``I just love him, obviously. I think anybody out there who has a brother can understand. I just believe in him and I have so much respect for him. I admire him. I look up to him in so many ways and I am hurting for him in that sense.''

John Harbaugh said he simply told Jim, younger by 15 months, that he loved him, and that Jim congratulated him.

One thing was clear: The Harbaugh family threw a Super party. Their parents, Jack and Jackie, had delighted the media with their gracious, outgoing manner leading up to a game that had more than its share of excitement.

``It was a heck of a football game,'' Jim Harbaugh said, adding that he told his brother he was proud of him.

Jim Harbaugh indicated he was still upset about a couple of decisions by officials - particularly the Niners' last offensive play, a fourth-down incompletion intended for Michael Crabtree - but asserted, ``We want to handle this thing with class and grace.''

After the game, Jack and Jackie stood nearby as John took the interview podium as the winning coach. Neither parent smiled much, clearly dealing with mixed feelings, although they looked proud.

``I knew it was going to be a hard-fought game and very, very competitive,'' Jack Harbaugh said. ``I'm so proud of John. We talked about where he started at Western Michigan University as a graduate assistant, and then to stand on this stage with the ultimate prize, I'm just so proud of him - and so proud of Jim. ... I knew he was coming back. He was going to fight back and he did and made it a great football game, maybe one of the great games in Super Bowl history.''

After watching John Harbaugh address the media, Jack and Jackie Harbaugh made their way across the ground level of the Superdome to the 49ers locker room, where Jack spoke with Jim behind closed doors. The Harbaugh parents had predicted that their thoughts would likely be more with whoever lost the game, because they figured that son would need them most.

``I'm just happy it was such a great game,'' Jackie Harbaugh said. ``I'm happy for John. I know how much Jim wanted this game, too. That's the way they are. It was right down to the bitter end, really. It's all in the family, so that's nice, and after this day's over, they'll go back to work.''

The leadup to this game was all about the Harbaughs - the first time siblings had coached against each other in the championship game. Every day for nearly two weeks, the two were asked about each other's careers - John was forthcoming, Jim less so.

They had their own news conferences in which they said their family motto was: ``Who has it better than us?''

It would hard to find another family in the NFL that does right now, even if one of them just lost the biggest game in which he'd ever coached.

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Best case, worst case scenario for WR Steve Smith Sr.

Best case, worst case scenario for WR Steve Smith Sr.

Clifton Brown and Bo Smolka are taking turns putting 25 key Ravens under the microscope leading up to veterans reporting to training camp. They’ll speculate on a best-case, worst-case scenario for at least one player every day, concluding with quarterback Joe Flacco on July 25.

UNDER THE MICROSCOPE: Steve Smith Sr., 37-year-old wide receiver

Best-case scenario for Smith:

He enjoys a typical 1,000-yard season, and he remains the Ravens’ top receiver.

Why it could happen:

It’s dangerous to bet against Smith making a full recovery from Achilles surgery, even in the twilight of his career. Few athletes perform with more of a chip on their shoulder than Smith, who is always driven to prove doubters wrong. He’s a technician at route running, he studies film diligently, and he’s a master at using his body and hands to ward off defenders. Smith never relied on pure speed to be a top receiver. So even if he’s a tad less explosive, Smith has the talent to end his career playing at a high level.

Worst-case scenario for Smith:

Smith’s body betrays him, and the Ravens’ depth at wide receiver reduces his playing time and role.

Why it could happen:

Father Time is undefeated, and may finally be calling for Smith. The older an athlete gets, the harder it gets to recover from injuries. With their deep group of tight ends, and the addition of wide receivers Mike Wallace and rookie Chris Moore, the Ravens may not be as dependent on Smith as they have been. Even if Smith is healthy, his role in the offense might be less prominent.

RELATED: FLACCO HAS LONG ODDS FOR MVP

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Flacco has same MVP odds as Winston and Mariota

Flacco has same MVP odds as Winston and Mariota

Joe Flacco has been a Super Bowl MVP and has won 10 playoff games. Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston have played one NFL season.

However, all three of those quarterbacks have been given the same odds (100/1) of winning next season’s MVP award by sportsbook Bovada.lv.

People who think Flacco is an elite quarterback may view that as disrespect. But the Bovada.lv odds throw even more shade at Flacco.

Sixteen quarterbacks are given a better chance of winning the MVP award in 2016 than Flacco. Some of the names you would expect, like Aaron Rodgers, who is the favorite at 4/1, followed by Ben Roethlisberger (7/1), Cam Newton (15/2), Russell Wilson (8/1), and Tom Brady (9/1).

But do Blake Bortles (66/1) of the Jaguars or Brock Osweiler of the Texans (66/1) really have a better chance of winning the MVP than Flacco? According to Bovada.lv they do. That’s also an indication that not much is expected from the Ravens overall after their 5-11 season. The better your team does, the better your chances of winning the MVP.

Newton won the MVP last year starting at 50/1 odds. So if you believe in Flacco and the Ravens, those 100/1 MVP odds for Flacco may look like an enticing play.

RELATED: Can Dumervil lead a rebirth of Ravens's pass rush?

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Ravens under the Microscope: Best case, worst case for DE Elvis Dumervil

Ravens under the Microscope: Best case, worst case for DE Elvis Dumervil

As we countdown to training camp, Clifton Brown and Bo Smolka will take turns putting 25 key Ravens under the microscope this month.

They’ll speculate on a best-case, worst-case scenario for at least one player every day. They’ll begin with players looking to carve out a role, or a roster spot. They’ll end with the Ravens’ most important players, concluding with quarterback Joe Flacco on July 25. 

RELATED: DUMERVIL DESPERATE TO GET A RING

UNDER THE MICROSCOPE: Elvis Dumervil, 32-year-old linebacker

Best-case scenario:

Dumervil is among the NFL’s sack leaders and spearheads a rebirth of the Ravens’ pass rush.

Why it could happen: 

Dumervil equaled his career high with 17 sacks as recently as 2014. He keeps himself in great shape, and says he feels great after offseason foot surgery. If Terrell Suggs returns healthy, Dumervil won’t have to face as many double-teams, or play as many snaps. Dumervil looks at last season’s results as unacceptable – just six sacks for him, and just five wins for the Ravens. He’s motivated to double both totals – at least.

Worst-case scenario:

Dumervil is no longer an elite pass rusher

Why it could happen:

Dumervil entered the league in 2006, and at some point the wear and tear will start to show. If young pass rushers like Za’Darius Smith, Kamalei Correa, and Branson Kaufusi  are effective, Dumervil could see his role diminish as the season wears on.

RELATED: BEST & WORST CASE SCENARIO FOR JIMMY SMITH