The Baltimore Ravens have ended a 12 year Super Bowl drought as they advanced to play in Super Bowl XLVII on February 3rd with their 28-13 victory in the AFC Championship game over the New England Patriots. Playing in the Super Bowl is a huge storyline in its own right, but there are several storylines for the Ravens heading into this story.
Let's take a look at some of the marquee storylines, in regards to Baltimore, for Super Bowl XLVII:
- Har-Bowl – Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, in his fifth season, has finally gotten to the Super Bowl after three AFC Championship appearances, and low and behold who does he have to face? None other than his brother, Jim Harbaugh, head coach of the San Francisco 49'ers. It is tough enough to advance to a Super Bowl, and even tougher to win it, but now, both John and Jim will also have to beat their brother in order to raise the Lombardi Trophy.
- Final stop on Ray Lewis's ride – The week prior to the start of these NFL Playoffs, Ray Lewis announced that this will be his final ride and Baltimore seemed to really rally around that as they have won two games, on the road, in which they were nine or more point underdogs and beat two Hall of Fame quarterbacks in Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Ray's last ride will end with the granddaddy of them all, the Super Bowl and he will be attempting to win his second ring.
- Ed Reed's final game? – Reed has been in the league since 2002 and has yet to play in a Super Bowl, well that time has finally come and what better place for it than New Orleans, as Reed is from Destrehan, LA which is just outside of New Orleans. Thus not only will Reed finally play in a Super Bowl, but it will also be a bit of a homecoming for him as well. Secondly, Reed's contract is up at the end of the season, and it has been stated that the Ravens can not bring back Reed at his current salary due to salary cap restrictions, so unless he agrees to stay for less money, this could be his last game in a Ravens uniform. Lastly, it is has been a bit of a question that if the Ravens win Super Bowl XLVII, will Ed Reed retire as well? Keep that in the back of your mind as on February 3rd, you may not just be watching Ray Lewis's final game, but it could be Ed Reed's as well.
- Matt Birk – All of the retirement focus has been on Ray Lewis and rightfully so, but it could also be the six time Pro Bowler Matt Birk's final game as well. A well recognized athlete for his smarts, he joined the Ravens in 2009 and has been a mainstay at center for Baltimore since then, but Birk is in his 16th season in the NFL and many believe that he will retire at season's end as well. Birk, who played the majority of his career with the Minnesota Vikings, will also be playing in his first Super Bowl, quite a way to go out if he decides to.
Baltimore has plenty of storylines heading into Super Bowl XLVII, but of course, the main focus is purely the Super Bowl itself. Heading into Sunday's AFC Championship game, it was Baltimore's third appearance in the last five years, and fifth straight playoff appearance overall. The Ravens were beginning to field the same questions that the Buffalo Bills in the 1990's and the Philadelphia Eagles of the 2000's fielded constantly, "will you ever win the big one?" Baltimore finally broke through to get to the Super Bowl, and now we will find out if the Ravens will lift the Lombardi Trophy for the second time in franchise history.
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