(Sports Network) - The preeminent storyline during the two-week build toSuper Bowl XLVII will be a pretty obvious one.
The Brothers Harbaugh will coach against each other on the biggest stage insports, perhaps the most high-profile sibling rivalry since Cain and Abel.
Unlike the two sons of Adam and Eve, however, Jack Harbaugh's kids actuallyget along and John was on the field at Gillette Stadium on Sunday making sureto congratulate his younger brother Jim, after the 49ers roared back from a17-point deficit to edge the Atlanta Falcons, 28-24, in the NFC ChampionshipGame.
Less than five hours later, John's Baltimore Ravens did their part bydominating Tom Brady and New England in the second half of a 28-13 win in theAFC title tilt.
"The greatest reward we could ever give (Baltimore fans) is a chance atanother Super Bowl," said star linebacker Ray Lewis, who was the MVP of SuperBowl XXXV, the Ravens' only other appearance in the big game.
Unless Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko have a falling out and decide to unifythe alphabet soup that is boxing's world heavyweight championship or someoneat World Wrestling Entertainment can convince me that The Undertaker and Kaneare really the sons of Paul Bearer, this is as big as it gets in the brotherversus brother realm.
When the Ravens met the 49ers on Thanksgiving in 2011, it marked the firsttime in NFL history two brothers faced each other as head coaches, a 16-6Ravens win over the Niners. The sequel will take place in front of 100 millionor so of the Harbaughs' closest friends.
John's best friend on Sunday, though, may have been his strong safety, a real-life Patriots' hunter -- Bernard Pollard.
The AFC Championship Game swung dramatically in Baltimore's favor when Pollardblew up Pats running back Stevan Ridley. The vicious helmet-to-helmet hitknocked Ridley cold before he hit the ground, causing a fumble.
Joe Flacco cashed in on the turnover in short order with an 11-yard touchdownpass to Anquan Boldin and a one-possession game with the Patriots drivingturned into a comfortable 28-13 Ravens advantage with just over 11 minutesleft, setting off an extended Baltimore celebration.
"That was the turning point of the game," John Harbaugh said. "That was theturning point of the football game there on the 40-yard-line. It was just atremendous hit. It was football at its finest. It was Bernard Pollard making agreat physical tackle -- just as good a tackle as you're ever going to see infootball right there. That just probably turned the game around right there."
Pollard, of course, has a long history with the Patriots and Ridley was justthe latest pelt he has collected.
As a member of the Kansas City Chiefs in 2008, it was Pollard who slammed intoTon Brady's knee, tearing the eight-time All-Pro's ACL.
When Wes Welker tore his ACL in 2010 against the Houston Texans, it was Pollardagain who was closing in, forcing the receiver to cut and land awkwardly. Andlast season, Pollard may have cost the Pats a Super Bowl championship when hetackled superstar tight end Rob Gronkowski, who suffered a bad high-anklesprain on the play. Gronk suited up against the New York Giants but wasn'thimself and the New England offense sputtered in a loss to Big Blue.
Pollard's latest KO was not without controversy with some claiming the balldidn't come out until Ridley's backside already slammed against the turf.
Referee Bill Leavy, who reviewed the play in the on-field replay booth,correctly ruled the ball was coming out.
"What I saw was the receiver was going to the ground, had both legs off theground, no body part was on the ground," Leavy told a pool reporter after thegame. "The ball hit his knee and dislodged from his hand before the rest ofhis body hit the ground, therefore it was a fumble and we confirmed it."
Some also grabbed onto the word "receiver," an interesting description sinceRidley was running the ball on the play.
Pollard's blow was the very definition of a helmet-to-helmet hit. It was not,however, against a "defenseless receiver," meaning the zebras got it rightagain even if Leavy incorrectly identified Ridley on the play.
"It's their call," a disappointed Bill Belichick said. "They ruled it aturnover, so it's an official review. It's not anything I can do."
Pollard's forced fumble underscored the hard-hitting nature of the Pats-Ravensrivalry and that's where Baltimore won the game on Sunday. Pollard also wasflagged for a third-quarter hit on Welker.
"They were good hits," Pollard said. "The league will look at it. Nevertheless,this is how I play. If they fine me, they fine me. I can't change my game."
The high-powered Patriots committed far more mental mistakes than usual andBrady's receivers dropped an unusual amount of catchable balls, a testament tothe physicality Pollard, Lewis and Co. brought to Foxboro.
"We were going to have to come in and play physical," Boldin said. "We feltlike the most physical team was going to win. The Ravens are a physical team,that's just the way we play. Like it or not, our defense is known to flyaround and hit people."
Don't expect John Harbaugh to ask Pollard to ease up on anyone, even his ownbrother.
"This is what we're about," said Pollard. "We're about hitting and guysplaying hard for four quarters.