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Ravens-49ers: Which brother wins?

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Ravens-49ers: Which brother wins?

NEW ORLEANS (AP) The San Francisco 49ers never have tasted defeat in a Super Bowl, going 5-0. It's the most impressive mark for any franchise in the big game.

Baltimore also is undefeated, with the Ravens winning their only appearance, in 2001.

Someone will have the Super Bowl blahs for the first time after Sunday's title game in the Superdome.

The Ravens (13-6), who are 3 1/2 -point underdogs, are on one of those runs reminiscent of recent NFL champions. Indeed, the New York Giants reached the Super Bowl a year ago in a similar manner, winning a wild-card game at home, then two playoffs on the road, including an overtime thriller.

The Giants got healthy down the stretch, something the Ravens have replicated, particularly on defense where star linebackers Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs are giving vintage performances following injury-shortened seasons.

``I believe we have found a way to believe in each other, and nothing else matters,'' said Lewis, who will retire after the game. ``That is one thing about our sideline. When we are on our sideline, there is only one thing that matters, when this game ends, we will be victorious, and everybody believes the same thing. That's what's been our road, no matter who's been up, who's been down, who's been hurt, who's been injured. We found a way to pick each other up.''

Baltimore's path to New Orleans led through New England, where the Ravens fell to the Patriots in last year's AFC title game. But they outscored the Patriots 21-0 in the second half to earn their spot in the Super Bowl.

San Francisco (13-4-1) also came up one win short a year ago, losing to the Giants for the NFC championship. That defeat has driven the 49ers just as much as the Ravens' failure in 2011 lifted them.

These Niners are built around a physical, stingy defense - that also has been the Ravens' persona for years, although not as much in 2012 as in Lewis' other 17 pro seasons. Linebacker Patrick Willis, who like Lewis wears No. 52 and is a perennial All-Pro, is the anchor.

``As a kid, you grew up watching,'' Willis said. ``Just to have the opportunity to be able to play in this game given my first four years (out of the playoffs), we were at home at this time watching other teams play. Last year we were one game away. To be able to be here, is truly special.''

To make it extra special, San Francisco's offense will need to outdo Baltimore's. The Ravens have scored 90 points in three games, and the Niners have 73 in two.

Baltimore's defense has made big plays against Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Now it gets an entirely different type of quarterback, Colin Kaepernick. His combination of running skill, powerful arm and surprising cool for a second-year pro makes him particularly dangerous against the Ravens. Baltimore does not have the fastest defense in the league.

Then again, the 49ers must deal with Joe Flacco, the only QB to win a postseason game in each of his first five seasons. Flacco also has six road playoff victories, a league record.

He's also outplayed Brady, the most successful quarterback of the last dozen seasons, in two straight AFC title games.

But he has his critics because this is his first Super Bowl trip in five tries.

``I think there is definitely a part of all of us that hear things and when somebody doubts what you want to do, you definitely go show them that they may be wrong,'' he said. ``I think for the most part we play for each other and that stuff is kind of a secondary issue.''

While the Ravens and 49ers play for each other, the Harbaugh brothers, John of the Ravens and Jim of the 49ers, will go against each other in the first Super Bowl featuring sibling head coaches. They've had fun with the topic this week, but it will be as serious as football can get on Sunday.

With older brother John coming out on top.

RAVENS, 27-24

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Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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Ravens hope to force Brady into kind of mistakes he rarely makes

Ravens hope to force Brady into kind of mistakes he rarely makes

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has thrown just one interception this season.

That’s one of the many challenges facing the Ravens (7-5) as they prepare for Monday night’s game at New England (10-2). The Ravens’ defense is tied for fifth in the NFL with 22 takeaways – 14 interceptions and eight fumble recoveries. But Brady is a quarterback that rarely turns it over, with 19 touchdown passes and just one interception in 302 passing attempts.

Can the Ravens force Brady into uncharacteristic mistakes? It won’t be easy. Watching Brady on film, coach John Harbaugh sees a quarterback who looks as good as he ever has.

“If he’s lost anything physically, he definitely makes up for it with his mind and his experience,” Harbaugh said. “He’s moving very well. He’s moving around the pocket very well and creating throws for himself in the pocket. I don’t really see any diminished skill set whatsoever.”

Even if the Ravens can’t force Brady into interceptions, their pass rush could make his job a lot more difficult. The more pressure the Ravens can get on Brady, the less time he will have to pick them apart.

When the Seahawks won at New England last month, they sacked Brady twice, intercepted him, and held him without a touchdown pass. That’s the blueprint the Ravens hope to follow. However, the two starting quarterbacks with the best TD-interception ration are Brady (19-1) and Dak Prescott (19-2) of the Cowboys. Prescott threw three TD passes and no interceptions against the Ravens last month and beat them. The Ravens hope for better success against Brady.

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Ravens safety Eric Weddle was nearly a Patriot this season

Ravens safety Eric Weddle was nearly a Patriot this season

When Eric Weddle was released by the San Diego Chargers after last season he had plenty of offers to sign with other NFL teams.

One of those teams was the New England Patriots, the team Weddle will play against on Monday Night Football this week. 

When the two-time All-Pro safety hit the open market, he said he was looking to play for a winning organization. He ended up choosing the Ravens over the Patriots because there was a more clear-cut opportunity for playing time. 

“I’m good buddies with Patrick Chung,” he said. “I grew up playing with him and Devin McCourty is one of the best to play, so I don’t know if it would have worked out personnel-wise. But obviously, I could have seen myself fitting in there seamlessly.”

Although the Ravens don't have quite as many wins as the Patriots this season, Weddle clearly made a good choice. The Ravens are tied for first place in the AFC North with the Steelers and Weddle is currently the highest graded safety in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus. 

The Ravens defense is playing dominant football as a whole as well. Through week 13 Baltimore ranks first in the NFL in total defense surrenduring just 296.1 yards per game. 

RELATED: Weddle consumes a gallon of ice cream after Ravens wins