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Super Bowl XVLII: Harbaugh vs. Harbaugh in the “HarBowl”

In Family, Sports on January 21, 2013 at 2:33 pm

Super Bowl XLVII - The HarBowl

In January of 2012, in a basement in Mequon, Wisconsin, Jack Harbaugh and his wife, Jackie, watched both of their sons coach their respective teams to heartbreaking losses in the AFC and NFC Championship Games.  Both of their sons came up a field goal short from coaching in the Super Bowl.

A year later, the Harbaughs found themselves in the exact same basement watching their sons coaching their teams in the AFC and NFC Championship Games with another chance to go to the Super Bowl.  This year, both sons won their respective games.

While the Harbaughs are certainly happier this year than they were with last year’s results, there is still plenty of stress to deal with in this situation.

The proud Harbaugh parents are guaranteed a bittersweet moment in the coming weeks.  They are in the unique position of knowing with 100% certainty that their son is going to join the ranks of Super Bowl winning coaches on February 13, 2013 at the Superdome in New Orleans.  Unfortunately for the Harbaughs, that victory is going to come at the expense of their other son – the price they pay for having two sons achieving the highest level of coaching success in the NFL.

It would be an understatement to say that the road to the Super Bowl was challenging for both Harbaugh brothers.

Early in the day, Jim Harbaugh’s San Francisco Forty Niners came back from a 17-point deficit to defeat the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta.  They did so by making halftime adjustments and shutting out the Falcons in the second half.

Last night, John Harbaugh’s Baltimore Ravens defeated the New England Patriots in Foxboro, MA after trailing at halftime.  It was the first time – in 68 games – that Tom Brady had ever lost a home game when leading going into halftime.  The Ravens made halftime adjustments and shut out the Patriots in the second half.

Making adjustments is something that both Harbaugh brothers do with confidence.  Both made some gutsy mid-season changes during their journey to this historic Super Bowl matchup.

When Alex Smith was injured during the Niners game against the St. Louis Rams, Colin Kaepernick took over at quarterback and led San Francisco to a come-from-behind tie.  The following week, Kaepernick got the start again when Smith wasn’t medically cleared to play against the Chicago Bears, and led the Niners to victory in an impressive fashion.

It was assumed that Smith – who had led the Niners to a 6-2 record on the heels of last year’s NFC Championship Game appearance – would regain his starting role once he was cleared to play.  However, Jim Harbaugh chose to remain with Kaepernick as the starter, even though he had only started one game in his NFL career.

The Ravens got off to an impressive start this season, winning 9 of their first 11 games.  After a two-game losing streak, where the Ravens scored 20 points against the Pittsburgh Steelers and 28 points against the Washington Redskins, Offensive Coordinator, Cam Cameron, was fired.  With only three games remaining in the season, John Harbaugh elevated Jim Caldwell – a coach who had no previous play-calling experience – to Offensive Coordinator.

The Ravens lost two of their last three games, and never scored more than 17 points in the process.  However, the Ravens have not scored less than 24 points since the playoffs began, and the team has outscored Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in consecutive weeks.

It is abundantly clear that neither Harbaugh brother is influenced at all by the opinions of NFL analysts, sports reporters, fans or any other outside source.

If Kaepernick didn’t lead his team to the Super Bowl, Jim certainly would have been questioned for making such a drastic move in the middle of the year.  And though the Ravens playoff ascension was unexpected as the #4 seed in the AFC, the bottom line is that John would have been questioned for making the coordinator change if the Ravens offense continued to sputter after Cameron was fired.

After the Ravens game, John spoke about how proud he was of his little brother and his respect for the way the Niners play the game.  He said that the Niners and Ravens are very similar in their makeup and their approach.  Both teams play an extremely hard-hitting, physical style of football.

Throughout the season and the playoffs, both teams have shown incredible resolve in the face of adversity, so this should be a very close Super Bowl with both teams battling until the final snap.

Super Bowl XVLII has many interesting storylines, but the unique aspect of brothers facing each other as head coaches has given the game a whole new level of intrigue that certainly has football fans anxiously awaiting what many are calling the “HarBowl.”

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