Updated Sunday, January 20, 2013 at 11:46 PM
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — It didn't seem possible when they limped into the postseason losers of four of five, or when they trailed the Denver Broncos last week by a touchdown with under a minute to go, or during the first half Sunday night when they trailed New England and were having trouble getting Tom Brady off the field.
But it's a reality now: the Ravens are going to the Super Bowl. Avenging last year's bitter loss to the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game, the Ravens took apart New England in the second half, punching their ticket to the Super Bowl with a 28-13 victory at a stunned Gillette Stadium.
In the Super Bowl for the second time in team history and the first time in the last 12 years, the Ravens will play the San Francisco 49ers, 28-24 winners over the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship Game. The matchup will feature a duel between two coaching brothers, the Ravens' John Harbaugh and the 49ers' Jim Harbaugh.
A week after outshining Peyton Manning, Joe Flacco got the better of Tom Brady, throwing three second-half touchdown passes to turn a game that the Ravens trailed 13-7 at intermission into a relatively comfortable win.
"It was pretty awesome," Flacco said. "We were here last year and thought we had it, but came up a little short. Guys came out in the second half and made plays.... We put pressure on them like that, and it worked pretty well."
Flacco hit Anquan Boldin on touchdowns of 3 and 11 yards. Flacco also hit tight end Dennis Pitta for a 5-yard score midway through the third quarter that gave the Ravens a lead that they would never relinquish. After a quiet first half, Flacco was 15 for 24 for 159 yards and three touchdowns.
The Ravens defense shut out the Patriots in the second half, forcing two Brady interceptions and a Stevan Ridley fumble. The Patriots had been 72-1 while leading at halftime at Gillette Stadium under coach Bill Belichick and 67-0 with Brady at the helm.
New England (13-5) lost a home AFC title matchup for the first time in five attempts. The loss denied Brady and coach Bill Belichick a shot at their sixth Super Bowl. They've gone 3-2, losing their last two times in the big game.
Instead, it's the AFC North champion Ravens heading to the Big Easy, seeking their second NFL championship. San Francisco has won five.
"This is our time. This is our time," Ray Lewis said as he and a few teammates were receiving the AFC championship trophy. "All these men out there, there might just be only five of us up here, but every man out there sacrificed this year for each other, and man, we did it and we're on our way to the Super Bowl."
JARED WICKERHAM / GETTY IMAGES
Tom Brady threw two interceptions as New England lost a home AFC Championship Game for the first time in five attempts.
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Anquan Boldin hauls in his second touchdown pass as the Patriots' Marquice Cole tries to defend. The touchdown gave Baltimore a 28-13 lead, which they kept.