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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Will lack of conditioning lead to Richardson's downfall with Ravens?

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Will lack of conditioning lead to Richardson's downfall with Ravens?

Will running back Trent Richardson’s lack of conditioning be his downfall with the Ravens?

Richardson missed the first week of OTA’s with a hamstring issue, which was not the kind of early impression he wanted to make. Some injuries are unavoidable. But conditioning has been an issue for Richardson throughout his brief and so far undistinguished NFL career.

Entering the NFL as the No. 3 overall pick with the Browns in 2012, Richardson has disappointed in Cleveland and Indianapolis, and spent 2015 out of the league after the Raiders cut him before the season. When the Ravens signed Richardson in April, he knew it might be his last NFL chance. However, Ravens coach John Harbaugh wants to see even more commitment from Richardson when it comes to staying in shape.

RELATED: IN LATEST COMEBACK BID, RAVENS TE DENNIS PITTA'S CONFIDENCE NOT A PROBLEM

“Trent just needs to get healthy,” Harbaugh said after the first week of OTA’s. “I think the workload and the amount of work it takes to be a world class conditioned athlete is something that he’s working on right now. That’s what he needs to understand and that’s where he needs to get himself. When he gets himself there, he’s got talent. It will be fun. I’m very certain he’ll get there and when he does we’ll be able to evaluate him.”

The Ravens don’t have to wait on Richardson. Their running back competition is already intense, with Justin Forsett, Buck Allen, Kenneth Dixon, Lorenzo Taliaferro, and Terrance West all fighting for carries and roles.

Whether Richardson even threatens to make the team remains to be seen. His bigger priority is improving his conditioning, and getting back on the field.

MORE RAVENS: MIKE TOMLIN, ANTONIO BROWN GO TO PENGUINS PLAYOFF GAME

In latest comeback bid, Ravens TE Dennis Pitta's confidence not a problem

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In latest comeback bid, Ravens TE Dennis Pitta's confidence not a problem

Not everyone close to Dennis Pitta was immediately sold on his second NFL comeback attempt. Will his twice-fractured hip hold up? How much is Pitta risking his long-term health?

Pitta has pondered those questions for months. But after the first week of OTA’s, the Ravens’ 30-year-old tight end remained confident he had made the right decision.

“I had to convince a few people, and I’m thankful for those who have been in my corner all along and had my best interests in mind,” Pitta said. “Like I’ve said before, I know my situation better than anyone else, and I’m confident in the decision I made to come back, and certainly there were people who wanted to make sure that I was confident in that decision. I have a great support team behind me, and we all feel good about this move.”

Pitta first fractured his hip during training camp in 2013, then again on a non-contact play against the Browns in 2014. However, Pitta says he doesn’t think about his right hip when he’s on the field. He’s also not lowering his expectations, despite not playing at all in 2015, and not playing a full season since 2012.

Pitta was one of quarterback Joe Flacco’s favorite targets, catching 61 passes for 669 yards during the 2012 regular season, then adding 14 catches for 163 yards and three touchdowns during the Ravens’ playoff run to a Super Bowl title.

Asked if he could return that level of play, Pitta suggested, “Why not?”

“No, my expectations haven’t changed from four years ago, to two years ago, to now,” Pitta said. “My level of expectation is extremely high going into this year. Like I said, I feel confident in how I can run, how I can move, how I can play and it’s just a matter of getting those reps back to where I’m confident in doing all of that. So, yes, expectations personally are very high.”

Pitta obviously wasn’t ready to end his career. If he is on the 53-man roster Week 1, it will be a terrific comeback story.

Mike Tomlin, Antonio Brown go to Penguins playoff game

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Mike Tomlin, Antonio Brown go to Penguins playoff game

If you didn't the the Pittsburgh Steelers enough already, this ought to help. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin and receiver Antonio Brown decided to take in some hockey on Thursday and unfortunately, they were cheering for the local team.

On the one hand, what do you expect? They play for the Pittsburgh Steelers so it's no surprise to see them cheering for the hometown team. On the other hand, the Steelers are the team Ravens fans all love to hate so to see them supporting the chief rivals of the Washington Capitals, that stings.

Just one more reason to hate the Steelers this football season.

RELATED: SEAN PAYTON SAYS RAVENS LOSING WEEK OF OTAS ISN'T THAT BIG OF A DEAL