Frank Gore’s two touchdowns are a big reason the 49ers are headed to the Super Bowl.
One road win stood between the San Francisco 49ers, the Baltimore Ravens and a trip to the Super Bowl. The Niners rallied from 17 points down to blow past the host Atlanta Falcons 28-24. The Niners effort this week was more grit and less flash against a Falcons team who opened the game on a roll.
The Ravens heard all the retirement party reservations made for linebacker Ray Lewis. The party instead will be moved to New Orleans. The Ravens trailed 13-7 at the half, only to pitch a second half shutout against the New England Patriots on their way to a 28-13 victory.
49ers 28 – Falcons 24 – The Atlanta Falcons luck ran out at the worst time. After piling up 17 first downs and 297 yards in the first half, Mike Smith’s group failed to hold a halftime lead for the second straight week. The 49ers spotted the Falcons 17 points before shutting down the Falcons offense in the second half.
Colin Kaepernick (16 of 21 for 233 yards) and Vernon Davis did their share of damage to a Falcons defense who seemed to forget about the All-Pro tight end. Davis had 5 catches for 106 yards and a touchdown. Frank Gore was instrumental in getting San Francisco back into the game, running for two touchdowns. The speedy LaMichael James also ran for a score. Matt Ryan was 30 of 42 for 396 yards and three touchdowns. Julio Jones had 11 receptions for 182 yards. This game will more than likely be the last for Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez — who has played 16 seasons.
Ravens 28 – Patriots 13 – Tom Brady’s incredible streak of 67 consecutive wins when leading at the half came crashing down under the heap of dropped passes and an intensified Baltimore defense. Joe Flacco was 15 for 24 for 159 yards and three touchdowns. Anquan Boldin caught two touchdown passes and Dennis Pitta added a score. The turning point came in the first half when Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib pulled up with a thigh injury. Talib – who covered Boldin was sidelined for the remainder of the game.
Ray Lewis played like a man possessed for the third straight game. Lewis finished with 17 tackles, giving him 44 in the postseason. The Ravens not only tightened their defensive thumbscrews, their physical play in the second half loosened plenty of Patriots’ chin straps. Ravens safety Bernard Pollard’s hit on running back Steven Ridley knocked him out for the rest of the game. Tom Brady was 29 of 54 for 320 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.