No shortage of storylines: Players don't care about subplots

Ravens center Birk: 'We are just going to hunker down and focus in"
2013-01-27T00:00:00Z No shortage of storylines: Players don't care about subplotsThe Associated Press The Associated Press
January 27, 2013 12:00 am  • 

NEW ORLEANS - Like a savory Cajun gumbo, the Super Bowl has something for everyone's tastes.

A departing megastar in Ray Lewis.

A record-setting quarterback, Joe Flacco, finally reaching the NFL's biggest stage, where he'll face off against Colin Kaepernick - a player representing the new wave at football's glamour position.

Dynamic defenses and big-play offenses.

A return to New Orleans for the first time since Hurricane Katrina devastated the area.

A touch of history as the San Francisco 49ers (13-4-1) seek their sixth Super Bowl title when they meet the Baltimore Ravens (13-6) next Sunday at the Superdome.

Oh, yeah, and an unprecedented sibling rivalry, with Ravens coach John Harbaugh guiding his AFC champions against younger brother Jim and the NFC champion 49ers.

"I really don't have any words for it," said Ravens safety Ed Reed, who will play in his first Super Bowl at age 34.

"All of the side stories, if you aren't playing in the game, I guess that's great," said Ravens center Matt Birk, who gets to his initial title game at age 36. "You can enjoy that. I think as players we are just going to hunker down and focus in and concentrate on the task at hand."

Such as the 37-year-old Lewis announcing the end of his Hall of Fame-quality career, stoking the emotional fire in his teammates and recapturing the level of play he had in his prime during three playoff wins. Lewis has 44 tackles in the playoffs after missing 10 weeks with a torn right triceps.

"Ray is a guy who's been here since the beginning of this franchise," strong safety Bernard Pollard said. "He's a guy who is The Raven."

When Lewis leaves, it will be up to Flacco to grab the reins - if he's still in Baltimore. The only quarterback to win playoff games in each of his first five seasons plays out his contract next Sunday.

Flacco is a guy who succeeds away from Baltimore in the postseason: His six victories on the road are the most for any QB.

Trying to stop him will be an opponent steeped in Super Bowl success, albeit not recently. A 49ers victory would give them six rings, tying the Pittsburgh Steelers for most in the Super Bowl era. And the Niners never have lost the big game.

Following Joe Montana and Steve Young as a 49ers Super Bowl quarterback is Colin Kaepernick, far more resembles Young than Montana. He has Young's elusiveness, but he also is bigger, has a stronger arm and long, powerful strides.

Like Flacco, Kaepernick owns a postseason record, rushing for 181 yards in a divisional-round victory over Green Bay. Then he helped beat Atlanta with his arm to get the Niners back to the Super Bowl.

"Being an NFL quarterback, there's a lot of advantages that come with it," Kaepernick said. "There are a lot of doors that open when you're a quarterback, but at the same time you're under a lot of scrutiny."

Up next

• Super Bowl XLVII: Ravens vs. 49ers

• Where: New Orleans

• When: 4:30 p.m. next Sunday

• TV: Channel 13

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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