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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

AFC & NFC Championship Game Reactions & Superbowl Sneak Peak

Wild on Sports

AFC & NFC Championship Game Reactions & Superbowl Sneak Peak

What a weekend it was in the NFL this week! Plenty of drama in both games. Lets take a look at how each game unfolded and the implications they have as we gear up for the Superbowl.

San Francisco 49ers 28   Atlanta Falcons 24

For the second week in a row the Atlanta Falcons came out firing, opening up to a 17-0 lead. Lead by the two touchdown attack of Frank Gore and efficient passing by Colin Kaepernick the 49ers slowly chipped away at that deficit while holding the Falcons to just 7 second half points, managing an impressive comeback victory.

The loss for the Falcons in all likelihood ends the Hall-of-Fame career of TE Tony Gonzalez who confirmed after the game that he had "probably" played his final game. The 36 year old Gonzalez caught 8 passes for 78 yards in a touchdown. "I've had such a great life," he said following the game. "I wish it would've culminated with the Super Bowl, but it didn't."

For the 49ers, it is validation for a team that has overcome a lot in the past year. After coming oh so close in the NFC Championship game against the New York Giants last season, San Francisco finally made the plays late in the game to seal their fate. Instead of a botched kick-return it was stellar defense shutting down Matt Ryan and finding a way to keep the ball out of the hands of Julio Jones late. Jones had 11 catches on the game for 182 yards and 2 TD's but had just 23 yards in the 2nd half.

The win also officially validates the decision made by 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh who made a mid-season QB change from veteran starter Alex Smith to unproven 2nd year QB Colin Kaepernick. The decision at the time was under much scrutiny. Now having gone deeper in the playoffs behind Kaepernick than ever before with Smith, those critics appear to be silenced.

Baltimore Ravens 28   New England Patriots  13

Led by three touchdown passes from Joe Flacco and a defense that turned back the clock to the Ravens of old, Baltimore shocked the heavily favored Patriots. The win extends the career of Ray Lewis one more game and gives Baltimore their first trip to the Superbowl in 12 years.

The Patriots took a 13-7 lead into halftime at which which point Tom Brady and Bill Belichick led teams were 62-0 at home in their tenure together. They would never score another point in the game as costly drops and uncharacteristic Brady mistakes, coupled with fantastic pass defense from the Ravens led to and end to this phenomenal statistic.

The afore mentioned Flacco continues to silence skeptics with fantastic playoff performances that have included a total of 853 passing yards and 8 touchdowns. Flacco is a free agent at season's end and has called himself an elite quarterback in the past. His performance this post season very well may put him in the discussion moving forward.

A look ahead...

Perhaps the biggest story in all of this is the match-up that it sets up in Superbowl 47 between the brothers Harbaugh (John from Baltimore, Jim from San Francisco). The match-up marks the first time that brothers have ever coached against each other in the big game. The Harbaugh brothers did face each other once in the regular season on Thanksgiving day in 2011 with John's Ravens coming out on top with the 16-6 victory. Both brothers are down playing the headline saying they are proud of eachother but then quickly shift the focus back to the players.

There will be plenty of play on this topic and many others as we inch our way closer to Superbowl XLVII. Stay tuned to Wild on Sports for the last news and headlines!


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