The National Football League (NFL) season is drawing to a close, and while this may be devastating news for many avid football fans, it also signifies one of the most anticipated events in the U.S. – the Superbowl.
The American Football Conference (AFC) and the National Football Conference (NFC), which make up the NFL, created the Super Bowl, now considered a national holiday, in 1967. The event was created as a part of a peace agreement between the two rival leagues. In this game, the victor of the AFC Championship and the victor of the NFC Championship would go head to head in a game called the Super Bowl. Today, the NFC has obtained 25 wins over the AFC’s 21.
At 3 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 20 the San Francisco 49ers and the Atlanta Falcons faced off in the NFC Championship game. The Falcons started the game strong with a lead of 17 points by the second quarter. 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick and running back Frank Gore led their team in stealing 14 points by the half.
With the Falcons ahead at the half with a score of 24-14, 49er fans clung to the hope that their team could pull forward. By the end of the third quarter, the 49ers lessened the deficit with a score of 24-21, though Atlanta held the lead. With eight minutes and 24 seconds left in the game, San Francisco’s Frank Gore captured the lead with a nine-yard rush to the end zone, a play which secured their victory and their place in the Super Bowl. With their 17-point comeback, the 49ers surpassed the comeback record in the NFC championship.
If San Francisco wins the Super Bowl, as they have the past five times they’ve participated, they will join the Pittsburgh Steelers as the only other franchise with six Super Bowl titles.
At 6:30 p.m. that same day, the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots went head-to-head in the AFC Championship game. By the end of the first half, New England had the lead at 13-7. However, linebacker Ray Lewis and the aggressive defense of the Baltimore Ravens shut down super-star Tom Brady and his New England offense in the second half, cutting off their chance of returning to the Superbowl.
At ten minutes left in the third, the Baltimore Ravens look the lead with a score of 14-13, and never looked back. The Baltimore Ravens charged forward, and winning with a score of 28-13, guaranteed themselves a ticket to the Super Bowl.
In 2000, the Baltimore Ravens won their first and only Super Bowl appearance, and if they win the upcoming game, Ray Lewis can retire with a bang, instead of a whimper.
In an email interview, junior Royce Walters asserts that the Baltimore Ravens have a solid chance of winning because of the Ravens’ running back Ray Rice and linebacker Ray Lewis, followed by his strong defensive line. However, Walters adds that the 49ers’ offense, led by Kaepernick and Gore, is a force to be reckoned with.
Rated first in the NFL, the 49er’s offense provides a powerful asset in potentially obtaining a Super Bowl triumph. Nevertheless, Baltimore’s defense is rated fifth in the NFL, just a number above that of San Francisco.
Junior Ian Fontaine agrees that the 49ers have a “reenergized offense”, and that this could prove vital in acquiring a Super Bowl title. Fontaine also said he is pulling for San Francisco to win.
Juniors Chris Garafalo and Spencer Stabile predicted that the Falcons and Patriots would be the teams preparing for the Super Bowl. Both agreed Tom Brady and Patriots’ coach Bill Belichick—“a great leader of men” says Garafalo—would lead the team to a conference victory. This year, however, both teams will be sitting on the sidelines.
While each team has what it takes to win, there is only one winner. On Feb. 3, the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens will battle it out on the field in New Orleans at the 47 annual Super Bowl.