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SORRY, MOM

SORRY, MOM

The way Jack Harbaugh tells the story, Jackie Harbaugh was so shocked by her eldest son's decision to choose coaching over a career in law or politics, she fell face-first into a dish of mashed potatoes.

See, Jackie Harbaugh loves political science and politics. And as a political science major at Bowling Green with a high grade-point, John Harbaugh seemed headed for law school.

``Jackie was so excited about it,'' Jack Harbaugh said.

But both of the Harbaugh boys had been bitten by the coaching bug early. The practice fields at Iowa and Michigan were their playground, and they knew more about coaching before they got out of grade school than some veteran assistants.

``He came home one day and we're sitting around the table and we're having dinner. Jackie says, `John, what law school will it be?' John said, `Mom, I think I want to try coaching,' Jack Harbaugh said. ``To which Jackie went facedown into the mashed potatoes. She said, `What? Coaching? You've got to reconsider!'''

That's not exactly what happened, Jackie Harbaugh said.

``May I tell the truth? There were no mashed potatoes,'' she said. ``When he came home and talked about (coaching) and I saw that look in his eyes, my feeling was, you have to do what you want to do. If you want to try this and see where it takes you, that would be great.''

Seems like he made the right choice. After making the playoffs in each of his first four seasons, John Harbaugh has the Baltimore Ravens in the Super Bowl on Sunday, where they'll face his brother Jim's San Francisco 49ers.

- Nancy Armour -http://twitter.com/nrarmour

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EDITOR'S NOTE - ``Super Bowl Watch'' shows you Super Bowl XLVII and the events surrounding the game through the eyes of Associated Press journalists across New Orleans and around the world. Follow them on Twitter where available with the handles listed after each item.

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Ravens' Steve Smith answers backhanded compliment like the legend he is

Ravens' Steve Smith answers backhanded compliment like the legend he is

Custom cleats are taking over the NFL, and this Sunday, players will have a chance to wear them during the games. The league will allow players to customize cleats with designs that represent causes they care about. 

Ravens receiver Steve Smith has been outspoken about putting an end to domestic violence, so he plans to use his cleats as a platform for that message this weekend. 

The shiny gold shoes drew a lot of praise on Twitter, but one user decided to weigh in with a backhanded compliment. And as you'd expect, it was a mistake. 

For the uninitiated, there is a reason Smith warns people in his Twitter bio, "If you come @ me, it definitely won't end in your favor." Just ask Anthony Brown and Jalen Ramsey

MORE RAVENS: Five factors to predict Dolphins at Ravens

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Five factors to predict Dolphins at Ravens this Sunday

Five factors to predict Dolphins at Ravens this Sunday

What: Dolphins (7-4) at Ravens (6-5)

When: Sunday, 1 p.m.

Where: M&T Bank Stadium

Ravens injuries:

OUT – TE Crockett Gillmore (thigh), G Alex Lewis (ankle), RB Lorenzo Taliaferro (thigh).

DOUBTFUL – RB Buck Allen (non-football issue).

QUESTIONABLE – WR Kamar Aiken (thigh), CB Jimmy Smith (ankle).

Dolphins injuries:

OUT – C Maurkice Pouncey (hip).

DOUBTFUL – CB Xavien Howard (knee).

QUESTIONABLE – OT Branden Albert (wrist), LB Kiko Alonso (hamstring), G Jermon Bushrod (calf), RB Kenyen Drake (knee); LB Jelani Jenkins (knee/hand); DT Earl Mitchell (back); WR DeVante Parker (back); G/T Laremy Tunsil (shoulder).

Five questions you should ask:

1. Are the Dolphins ready to win a big road game in December?

Despite their six-game winning streak, the Dolphins are just 2-3 away from home. Now you’re asking them to win at M&T Bank Stadium, where the Dolphins are 0-2 all-time? We’ll see. The Dolphins will gain credibility as an AFC playoff threat if they win this game.

2. Can the Ravens put together a complete offensive performance?

Quarterback Joe Flacco wasn’t satisfied with the Ravens’ 19-14 win over the Bengals in Week 12. Actually, he hasn’t been satisfied with the offense all season.

“When you have a team 16-3, you would like to choke them out and get it over with,” Flacco said.

He knows the Ravens have to play better offensively to go on a December run. And part of that improvement starts with Flacco.

3. Can the Ravens’ offensive line handle Cameron Wake (8½ sacks) and Ndamukong Suh (five sacks)?

The Dolphins’ defensive line has the ability to make Flacco’s day miserable. The Ravens’ offensive line will need one of its better performances.

4. Which team’s running game will be most effective?

This could be the key to victory, because both teams want to run and utilize play-action passing. Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi (847 yards, 5.3 yards per carry) is a load, but the Ravens have the NFL’s top-ranked run defense. Ravens rookie running back Kenneth Dixon is coming off his best game (13 carries, 49 yards), and looks ready to share more carries with Terrance West (600 yards).

5. Can the Ravens get enough pressure on Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill?

Tannehill has nine touchdown passes and just one interception during the Dolphins’ six-game winning streak. The Dolphins like to get Tannehill outside the pocket and take advantage of his ability to throw accurately on the move. Tannehill’s game has grown under new head coach Adam Gase. If the Ravens don’t throw Tannehill off his rhythm, he will make plays.

Prediction: Expect a typical close Ravens game, but I see them squeezing out a critical victory, on the strength of Justin Tucker’s leg.

Ravens 20, Dolphins 17 

MORE RAVENS: How Ravens could still win AFC North