The Baltimore Ravens gained revenge over the New England Patriots to set up a showdown with the San Francisco 49ers which will give Ray Lewis a Super Bowl finale - although the game will now mostly be known as the HarBowl with a pair of brothers leading the finalists.
Baltimore's victory set up the first Super Bowl meeting between head coaching siblings: John Harbaugh's Ravens will face Jim Harbaugh's NFC champion 49ers on February 3 in New Orleans.
Legendary linebacker Lewis announced his retirement ahead of the playoffs and every game since has potentially been his last - but now that finale will come in the SuperBowl following stunning wins over the Indianapolis Colts, Denver Broncos and now the Patriots, the last two on the road.
The Ravens' 28-13 victory was revenge for defeat in last season's AFC title game against the Patriots. It was the first repeat clash between the same teams in successive AFC championships for 25 years.
Baltimore outscored the Pats 21-0 in the second half with an irresistible balance of short passes by quarterback Joe Flacco and hard running by Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce.
The Patriots offense, minus the injured Rob Gronkowski, was unusually ineffective, coughing up costly turnovers in the fourth quarter.
The Ravens trailed 13-7 at halftime but took the lead with an 87-yard drive capped by a five-yard touchdown pass to tight end Dennis Pitta in the third quarter after forcing New England to punt when their drive stalled at the Baltimore 34.
After forcing New England to punt again, the Ravens marched on a long drive that ended with a three-yard touchdown pass from Flacco to Anquan Boldin on the first play of the fourth quarter for a 21-13 Baltimore lead.
The killer blow came on New England's next possession when Stevan Ridley fumbled after a hit by safety Bernard Pollard and defensive end Arthur Jones recovered the ball on the Patriots' 47-yard line. The New England crowd were furious with the call as Ridley lay injured on the turf.
Four plays later, Boldin held another TD catch from 11 yards out to make it 28-13 and send the Ravens back to the Super Bowl for the first time since their triumph in 2001.
Before this defeat Tom Brady had a 67-0 home record when leading at half-time. Brady completed 29-of-54 passes for 320 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Wes Welker had eight receptions for 117 yards and a TD.
Flacco completed 21-of-36 for 240 yards and three touchdowns. Ray Rice had 19 carries for 48 yards and a touchdown.
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image: © Keith Allison