The turkey will surely taste better for John Harbaugh.
After defeating San Francisco, coached by his brother Jim Harbaugh, 16-6 Thursday night, the Ravens’ head coach was all smiles during his postgame presser.
However, it was a little surreal for him to coach against his brother in front of a national audience on the grandest stage in American sports.
“Running across the field to my brother — he’s my best friend, along with my Mom and Dad and my wife,” John Harbaugh said. “If you put yourself in his his shoes, you don’tput yourself in many other coaches’ shoes, but you can put yourself in your brother’s shoes — I’m really proud of him.”
The Harbaugh parents, Jack and Jackie, watched the game in an office inside M&T Bank Stadium. They didn’t want cameras to focus on them through the course of the game.
Three generations of Harbaughs posed before kickoff at midfield, in what was a proud moment for their family.
“Everybody sitting in here has brothers and sisters and those stories that you heard — that you probably don’t want to hear again — are the same stories that you had when you were growing up with your brothers, the people that are close to you, your cousins or whomever,” John said.
John was in a good mood as he typically is after a win. Jim, just as big of a competitor, wasn’t, but was congratulatory to his older brother.
“There’s a saying that says, ‘As iron sharpens iron, so does on man sharpen another,’” Jim said. “And let’s say my brother John is the sharpest iron I’ve ever encountered.”
For the Ravens, it was a dominating defensive performance that featured nine sacks, which tied a franchise record. Linebacker Terrell Suggs had three sacks, defensive end Cory Redding had 2.5 and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata had two.
Safety Tom Zbikowski contributed a sack and cornerback Lardarius Webb shared a half a sack with Redding.
“That’s always the gameplan, to get after the quarterback,” Suggs said. But the No. 1 gameplan was the win the ‘Harbaugh Bowl.’”
The defense first shut down the running game, holding 49ers running back Frank Gore to just 39 yards on 14 carries. It then chased quarterback Alex Smith around, forcing him to take sacks or throw the ball away.
The Ravens jumped out to an early 3-0 lead when kicker Billy Cundiff hit a 39-yarder in the first quarter. The Niners answered with a David Akers field goal to tie the score.
Late in the second quarter, Cundiff hit a chip shot 23-yarder to put the Ravens up 6-3, though the Ravens had a chance to punch the ball in from San Francisco’s 1 yard line but couldn’t do so.
Smith and the Niners drove down the field, but Webb intercepted a pass in the end zone to halt their drive. The interception was just Smith’s fifth this season.
The Niners did manage to tie the game midway through the third quarter with a 52-yard field goal from Akers.
But that’s when the Ravens marched down the field on one of their best drives of the season, which lasted 16 plays and took 7:34 off the clock.
Tight end Dennis Pitta caught an 8-yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco to put Baltimore up 13-6. The touchdown was Pitta’s first career score in the NFL.
“Hopefully, there’s more to come,” Pitta said. “But what a big play in that game, and it was fun to have it there.”
With 7:37 left in the game, Baltimore forced the 49ers to punt and capitalized off of it. The Ravens ran seven plays down the San Francisco’s 21 yard line and Cundiff kicked another 39-yarder through the uprights. This gave Baltimore a secure 16-6 lead, which it held onto for the remainder of the game.
“It’s Thanksgiving man, there’s a lot of turkey,” Redding said. “We had to go out there and eat.”
By Jason Butt