The New England Patriots, Baltimore Ravens, San Francisco 49ers and Atlanta Falcons. Those were the remaining four teams left in the NFL playoffs as of yesterday. The NFC saw a game where the Falcons managed to jump out to a commanding 17-0 lead after WR Julio Jones’s impeccable TD catch (his second of the first half) from QB Matt Ryan in the corner of the end-zone. Desperately needing a response before the game got out of hand, the 49ers managed to answer back with their first TD of the game coming from rookie RB LaMichael James courtesy of a 15-yard run along with a TD catch to TE Vernon Davis from QB Colin Kaepernick. San Francisco was poised to go into half only down three 17-14 after the initial deficit but Matt Ryan and the Falcons managed to put together an impressive two-minute drill leading to a TD pass to legendary TE Tony Gonzalez with just 25 seconds left in the half. Atlanta went to the locker-room up 24-14 against the stout San Francisco defense.
The 49ers came out of the gates fast for the second half as they pulled back within three thanks to a short TD run from RB Frank Gore. Atlanta, void of any running game due to an injury to Michael Turner and ineffectiveness of Jacquizz Rodgers, failed to respond as Frank Gore once again scored for the 49ers in the fourth quarter putting them up 28-24 – a lead they would hold on to leading to San Francisco's sixth NFC Championship. The comeback was the biggest one in the history of the NFC Championship game according to the Elias Sports Bureau. A pedestrian day for Colin Kaepernick running-wise with only 21 yards after last week's record-breaking performance, but was extremely efficient passing as he was 16/21 for 233 yards (106 of which to Vernon Davis). All that was left was seeing if head coach Jim Harbaugh would go on to face his brother John Harbaugh (head coach of the Ravens) in the Super Bowl.
The New England Patriots went into last night’s game against the Baltimore Ravens as eight point favorites. The underdog Ravens team gave up 10 unanswered points during the last four minutes of the first half as New England led 13-7. Baltimore clicked on all cylinders in the second half as the defense would go on to shutout the top scoring offense in the NFL the rest of the way while the offense put up an impressive 21 points leading to a dominating 28-13 victory. Story-line is not lacking for the Super Bowl in two weeks as LB Ray Lewis looks to end his career on top hoisting the Lombardi Trophy and brother vs. brother with Jim and John Harbaugh leading their teams to the pinnacle of the football world. Prepare for HarBowl 2013. For what it’s worth, I’ve got the 49ers winning and I’m expecting a hell of a game.
• The baseball world mourned the loss of two legends this past weekend. Hall of Fame manager of the Baltimore Orioles Earl Weaver died on the 19th due to an apparent heart attack. Weaver led his Orioles teams to four different American League Pennants as well as the 1970 World Series. He managed his teams to nearly 1,500 wins with five seasons of 100 wins or more. Stan “The Man” Musial also died on the 19th at the age of 92. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1969, Musial has as impressive a resume of just about any player in the Hall. 24 All-Star game selections (second most all-time), three World Series rings, three MVP awards, seven batting titles and a retired jersey in St. Louis add up to one of the greatest careers in baseball history. His .330 career batting average is good for top 30 of all-time in baseball. So often the cheaters of the baseball world overshadow everything else. Let Stan Musial's career with the Cardinals never be forgotten.
• The NHL made its triumphant return over the weekend as the league finally began their 2013 season. The defending Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings kicked off their season Saturday afternoon against the 2010 Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks. Chicago dominated the Kings 5-2 as Marian Hossa scored two goals along with an assist. The Blackhawks also defeated the Phoenix Coyotes last night as Hossa added another two goals. Joining the Blackhawks at the top of the Western Conference at 2-0 was the Minnesota Wild as they topped the Dallas Stars yesterday 1-0 behind the impressive performance of goalie Josh Harding – which was his first start since being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis over the extended offseason. Top free agent signee Zach Parise scored his first goal for the Wild as it proved to be the decisive one.
• Another blurbs article, another loss for the Los Angeles Lakers. This time to the lowly Toronto Raptors 108-103. Dwight Howard was ejected in the first half as the Lakers dropped their fifth straight road game. The Lakers are only four games up on the last place Phoenix Suns – who fired head coach Alvin Gentry and replaced him with 17-year NBA veteran Lindsey Hunter over the weekend. In other news for the NBA, the Maloof family has reportedly come to an agreement with a Seattle group to sell 65 percent control of the Sacramento Kings. The move could potentially lead to the Kings moving and resurrecting the Seattle Super Sonics thanks to Seattle’s new arena deal.
• Manti Te’o, the star of the sporting world’s newest dramatic scandal involving the hoax of his fake dead girlfriend, sat down with ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap for an interview but did not allow cameras to tape it. Te'o continued to vehemently deny being a part of the hoax. He will look to continue clearing his name this week as he will provide his first on-camera interview with Katie Couric since the news broke last week that his story of his girlfriend dying in September was false.
Follow me on Twitter! @MichaelRyne