John Harbaugh bests his brother for the title

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John Harbaugh bests his brother for the title

From Comcast SportsNetNEW ORLEANS (AP) -- John Harbaugh had to wait to truly celebrate his first Super Bowl championship.Even as the clock ran out and the Baltimore Ravens jumped around and embraced each other, the winning coach strode toward center of the field hurting for his brother, Jim, as much as he was pleased for himself.The short embrace between the Baltimore and San Francisco coaches on the floor of the Superdome, in which Jim briefly touched John's face, "was probably the most difficult thing I've ever done, ever been associated with in my life," John said."Jim is a great competitor," John Harbaugh added. "I just love him, obviously. I think anybody out there who has a brother can understand. I just believe in him and I have so much respect for him. I admire him. I look up to him in so many ways and I am hurting for him in that sense."It even seemed as though the triumphant Harbaugh brother was happy in some way that the Niners nearly overcame a 22-point deficit in a thrilling 34-31 Ravens victory on Sunday night."I just knew with Jim Harbaugh being on the other sideline and all of those years we have been together that game was going to be a dog fight right to the end," John Harbaugh said. "Those guys were coming back. There's no greater competitor and no greater coach in the National Football League or in the world, as far as I'm concerned, than Jim Harbaugh. The way that team played proves it. ... That is who he is and that is who they are. I could not be more proud of him."John Harbaugh said he simply told Jim, younger by 18 months, that he loved him, and that Jim congratulated him.One thing was clear: The Harbaugh family threw a Super party. Their parents, Jack and Jackie, had delighted the media with their gracious, outgoing manner leading up to a game that had more than its share of excitement."It was a heck of a football game," Jim Harbaugh said, adding that he told his brother he was proud of him.Jim Harbaugh indicated he was still upset about a couple of decisions by officials -- particularly the Niners' last offensive play, a fourth-down incompletion intended for Michael Crabtree -- but asserted, "We want to handle this thing with class and grace."With their parents watching from a private suite in the Superdome, the Harbaugh brothers put on a championship game to remember. First it was the Ravens who raced to a 28-6 lead after Jacoby Jones returned the second-half kickoff a Super Bowl-record 108 yards for a score.Then came a power outage, which delayed the game for 34 minutes. With the players sitting on their benches waiting for play to resume, Jim Harbaugh went to work.His 49ers went on a surge of their own, and younger brother Jim had John on the ropes. The 49ers closed to 31-29 in the fourth quarter, but just couldn't come up with one more play to pull off what would have been the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history.After the game, Jack and Jackie stood nearby as John took the interview podium as the winning coach. Neither parent smiled much, clearly dealing with mixed feelings, although they looked proud."I knew it was going to be a hard-fought game and very, very competitive," Jack Harbaugh said. "I'm so proud of John. We talked about where he started at Western Michigan University as a graduate assistant, and then to stand on this stage with the ultimate prize, I'm just so proud of him -- and so proud of Jim. ... I knew he was coming back. He was going to fight back and he did and made it a great football game, maybe one of the great games in Super Bowl history."After watching John Harbaugh address the media, Jack and Jackie Harbaugh made their way across the ground level of the Superdome to the 49ers locker room, where Jack spoke with Jim behind closed doors. The Harbaugh parents had predicted that their thoughts would likely be more with whoever lost the game, because they figured that son would need them most.The leadup to this game was all about the Harbaughs -- the first time siblings had coached against each other in the championship game. Every day for nearly two weeks, the two were asked about each others' careers -- John was forthcoming, Jim not so much. Even their parents got in the act with their own news conferences.The Harbaugh family theme was: "Who has it better than us?"Certainly no family in the NFL."I'm just happy it was such a great game," Jackie Harbaugh said. "I'm happy for John. I know how much Jim wanted this game, too. That's the way they are. It was right down to the bitter end, really. It's all in the family, so that's nice, and after this day's over, they'll go back to work."

Brady on Hogan after record-setting night: 'He's been incredible'

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Brady on Hogan after record-setting night: 'He's been incredible'

FOXBORO -- Someone told Chris Hogan before the AFC Championship that it would be a game he'd look back on 30 years from now and remember in perfect detail. 

That may be difficult for him given the sheer volume of plays he made in Sunday's 36-17 win over the Steelers. Hogan finished the game with nine catches for 180 yards and two touchdowns on 12 targets, surpassing Deion Branch for the franchise record for receiving yards in a postseason game. 

"It'll be something that definitely I'll remember for the rest of my career," he said, "and probably for the rest of my life . . . I'm happy for everyone in this locker room, all these guys in the locker room, the coaches. We've worked so hard to get here, and I was just happy that I was able to help this team get a win tonight."

Hogan did more than that. He was pivotal during New England's first touchdown drive of the night, catching passes on three consecutive plays for a total of 41 yards, and then reeling in an easy 16-yard touchdown when the Steelers defense lost track of him in the right half of the end zone. 

"I moved a little bit to the left because they were pressuring up the middle, and the pocket kind of collapsed," Brady said. "So I kind of slid to the left and I had good vision. They kind of bit down on Julian [Edelman] pretty hard, and then Hogs just was standing there in the back of the end zone."

Hogan's other catches were generally more contested than that one, but several were made without a Steelers defender harrassing him. And when they let him be, he made them pay. 

The flea-flicker pass that resulted in Hogan's second score of the day was a kick in the gut for the Steelers defense, putting the Patriots ahead, 17-6. Brady initially needed a reminder of how Hogan scored his second touchdown of the night, saying, "Oh, the flea-flicker. How could I forget that?"

"We ran one earlier in the year against, I think it was Baltimore, and it worked," Brady added. "I hit Hogan on that one too, on a crossing route. Those were well-executed plays. It's nice when you can take advantage of some of those plays, nice to gain some chunks that way when you kind of get some misdirection or double-pass, flea-flicker, something like that. It's a big spark for the team."

At that point Hogan already had racked up a career day. He had never scored multiple touchdowns in an NFL game coming in, and he set his own career-high for receiving in the postseason with 117 yards. In his first and only playoff game the week before, he had 95 yards on four catches. 

Hogan suffered a thigh injury in that game that limited him in practice and made him questionable against the Steelers. But he played, and he gave his team an early boost, helping force the Steelers to play catch-up for the vast majority of the night.

And the injury didn't appear to slow him down all that much. Though there were times when he was slow to get to his feet after being tackled, he showed the kind of speed that allowed him to put himself near the top of the list in the NFL when it comes to yards-per-catch (18.7). Among  receivers with at least 20 catches, he trailed only Sammie Coates (20.7) of the Steelers. 

"He's been incredible," Brady said. "I mean, to lead the league in average yards per catch is spectacular. He's made big plays for us all season. He made big plays in the biggest game of the year for us."

It's one that he'll remember for a long time, but he's hoping to add to that happy memory in two weeks.

"We've grinded throughout this entire year, this is what we worked for, and this is what we wanted to get to," Hogan said. "It's a special moment for all of these guys in this locker room. We'll enjoy this and get back to work because we've got one more."