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Ravens, 49ers win to set up Harbaugh vs. Harbaugh Super Bowl

Baltimore Ravens head coach Harbaugh argues that New England Patriots' Brady kicked his player as he slid to the turf on a first half run during the NFL AFC Championship football game in Foxborough Reuters

Jack Harbaugh played one year of professional football, with the AFL’s New York Titans in 1961. He began a long career as a high school and college coach in 1964. But Jack Harbaugh’s lasting impact on the game of football will be the fact that he had two sons in the two years between ending his playing career and beginning his coaching career.

On Super Bowl Sunday, John Harbaugh (born in 1962) will coach his Ravens against Jim Harbaugh (born in 1963) and the 49ers. Jack Harbaugh surely had high hopes for his two sons half a century ago, but even the proudest of fathers probably couldn’t have had such high hopes for what his two sons could accomplish in the family business.

Harbaugh vs. Harbaugh will be the dominant storyline in the two-week run-up to the Super Bowl. It will be the storyline you’re sick of hearing about long before kickoff. But it’s also a storyline we all should appreciate: This really is something special, to see two brothers coaching against each other on the biggest stage in American sports.

When the Ravens met the 49ers on Thanksgiving in 2011, it marked the first time two head-coach brothers faced each other in the NFL. John Harbaugh said at the time, “I think it’s an amazing thing. It’s an historic thing. It’s very special.”

To meet in the Super Bowl will be even more special. Perhaps most of all to Jack Harbaugh.

Here are my other thoughts on Sunday’s action:

Colin Kaepernick is the player I’m most excited to see on Super Bowl Sunday. The 25-year-old Kaepernick is in only his second NFL season and will be starting only his 10th NFL game when the 49ers play the Ravens in two weeks. And if he leads the 49ers to a win, he’s going to change the way people think about the quarterback position. Kaepernick is an amazing runner, but he doesn’t have to run to beat you. In last week’s win over the Packers, Kaepernick set an NFL record with 181 rushing yards. So this week, the 49ers would surely make Kaepernick’s running a major part of the game plan, right? Wrong. Kaepernick had just two runs for 21 yards. But the threat of Kaepernick running to the outside helped open up Frank Gore running up the middle. Gore interrupted Kaepernick’s postgame press conference to hug Kaepernick and tell reporters how great his teammate is: “He can do whatever — throw the ball, run the ball,” Gore said. “He’s a different quarterback, man.”

Was Tom Brady trying to kick Ed Reed? With 20 seconds left before halftime, Brady foolishly slid feet-first and then failed to call timeout, running the clock all the way down to four seconds and costing the Patriots a chance to take a shot into the end zone. But he did something else on that play that raised some eyebrows as well: He lifted up his foot with Ravens safety Ed Reed approaching, as if he was trying to kick Reed. Just like with Ndamukong Suh on Thanksgiving, I don’t know if it was an intentional kick. But it sure looked suspicious.

For a first-team All-Pro, Dashon Goldson sure can be a liability in coverage. Goldson is the 49ers safety who got burned on Julio Jones’s first-quarter 46-yard touchdown, and as good as Goldson is at delivering big hits, he struggles staying with fast receivers on deep routes. Look for Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, who loves to throw deep, to test Goldson in the Super Bowl.

No one knows what constitutes a catch in the NFL anymore. When Atlanta’s Harry Douglas caught a big pass late in the fourth quarter, Jim Harbaugh challenged it and was sure he was going to win, and he went nuts on the sideline when he lost the challenge and the catch was upheld. I thought he was going to win the challenge, too, but I didn’t know for sure because no one ever knows for sure what a catch is in the NFL anymore. It’s simply impossible to accurately predict how a replay review of a close catch is going to be ruled.

Don’t go, Tony. Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez says he plans to retire, but for my own selfish reasons I hope he changes his mind. Gonzalez is one of the most fun players to watch in the NFL, a player who always goes about his business the right way and is still among the game’s best tight ends at age 36. Plus, he’s five months older than me, and I’m not ready to concede that that means he’s at the right age to retire. I hope Gonzalez is in the playoffs with the Falcons again a year from now.

The 49ers need Aldon Smith to get his groove back in the Super Bowl. In the first 13 games of the regular season, Smith had 19.5 sacks. In the last three games of the regular season and two games of the playoffs, Smith has zero sacks. Whatever is wrong with Smith, San Francisco is going to have a tough time winning the Super Bowl without its best pass rusher stepping up.

David Akers is a liability for the 49ers. Akers led the league in missed field goals during the regular season, and he missed his only attempt in Atlanta on Sunday. If the Super Bowl comes down to a last-second 49ers field goal attempt, no one in San Francisco will feel confident as Akers takes the field.

One more game for Ray Lewis. The best defensive player of his generation — maybe the best defensive player in NFL history — will play his last game in two weeks in New Orleans. Lewis already has a Super Bowl MVP to his credit. Now he’ll try to give his career a storybook ending.

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Freeman, Coleman run wild as Falcons overwhelm Saints

Atlanta Falcons outside linebacker Deion Jones (45) intercepts a pass from New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, not pictured, and returns it for a touchdown, in the second half of an NFL football game in New Orleans, Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Bill Feig) AP

The Falcons scored touchdowns on five straight possessions, then turned to their defense to seal a wild, 45-32 win over the Saints Monday night.

Tevin Coleman ran for three touchdowns and rookie linebacker Deion Jones returned an interception 90 yards for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter as the Falcons blew it open.

For as good as Coleman was it was his Falcons backfield mate, Devonta Freeman who led everyone with 152 rushing yards. Freeman also caught a 13-yard touchdown pass, and Coleman produced 47 receiving yards and 42 rushing yards.

The Falcons move to 2-1 and are alone atop the NFC South. The Saints fall to 0-3.

Saints quarterback Drew Brees threw for 376 yards and three touchdowns. Tight end Coby Fleener scored his first Saints touchdown and had seven catches for 109 yards, but a depleted Saints defense just couldn’t get off the field and couldn’t get Freeman down.

The Falcons racked up 217 rushing yards and didn’t commit a turnover.

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan threw for 240 yards and two touchdowns. Julio Jones had one catch, but Ryan and the Falcons were in charge of the game with the exception of the first 10 minutes.

The Saints moved the ball all night and outgained the Falcons but never seemed to recover from an early misplayed punt by R.J. Harris that turned into Coleman’s first touchdown and, even after rallying, couldn’t recover from the interception return by Jones that made it a 20-point game.

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Rookie linebacker returns interception for touchdown, puts Falcons up by 20

Drew Brees AP

Falcons rookie linebacker Deion Jones returned an interception 90 yards for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter, squashing a Saints rally and putting the Falcons up, 45-25.

Drew Brees had been moving the Saints, who’d finally kept the Falcons out of the end zone and were driving to make it a one-score game.

Jones is a New Orleans native, making his touchdown extra sweet.

On the ESPN broadcast, analyst Jon Gruden said Brees was fooled by the coverage, thought he was seeing man-to-man coverage and ended up chasing Jones to no avail. Brees was intercepted for the first time in 305 passes.

Tevin Coleman has three rushing touchdowns for the Falcons, who have been dominant when they’ve had the ball.

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Coleman, Falcons running Saints off the field

Tevin Coleman,Brennen Beyer AP

Falcons running back Tevin Coleman has three rushing touchdowns and the Falcons are routing the defenseless Saints, 35-17, in the third quarter.

Coleman had two career rushing touchdowns before tonight’s game.

The Falcons have scored on five straight possessions. It was 14-14 in the second quarter.

Drew Brees has two touchdown passes for the Saints, who have only scored via a 57-yard Wil Lutz field goal since early in the second quarter.

Julio Jones doesn’t have a catch but the Falcons still have an 18-point lead.

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Falcons scoring at will, hold 28-17 halftime lead

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) passes in the first half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in New Orleans, Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Butch Dill) AP

A week after a strong showing on the road against the Giants, the bad Saints defense has returned.

The Saints have provided little resistance against Matt Ryan, Devonta Freeman and the Falcons. The Falcons lead the Saints, 28-17, at halftime.

A 4-yard shovel pass to Justin Hardy gave the Falcons a two-touchdown lead with 28 seconds left in the first half. The Falcons went 94 yards in eight plays and scored for the fourth consecutive possession.

Saints kicker Wil Lutz hit a 57-yard field goal on the final play of the first half.

Tevin Coleman’s second rushing touchdown of the game capped a 75-yard scoring drive to make it 21-14. Freeman had 61 yards rushing and 13-yard touchdown catch with more than five minutes left in the second quarter.

Drew Brees has thrown a pair of touchdowns for the Saints. Rookie Michael Thomas caught his first NFL touchdown pass to tie the game at 14, but the Falcons marched right back down the field.

The Saints are missing some key people defensively, and they’re playing like it.

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As expected, Falcons and Saints off to hot start

New Orleans Saints tight end Coby Fleener (82) celebrates his touchdown reception in the first half of an NFL football game in New Orleans, Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Bill Feig) AP

The Saints got the ball first Monday night, and they drove for a touchdown.

The Falcons punted after their first possession, but R.J. Harris didn’t field it cleanly and Falcons linebacker LaRoy Reynolds recovered it at the Saints’ 11-yard line.

Three plays later, Tevin Coleman scored from 2 yards out to tie the game.

The Saints had marched 75 yards in 11 plays on the opening drive and scored on a 2-yard pass from Drew Brees to Coby Fleener, who caught his first touchdown with the Saints.

Brees was 5-of-5 for 46 yards on the first drive. It might take a bunch of points to win this one.

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Pete Carroll says Russell Wilson will practice Wednesday

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 25:  Quarterback Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks walks on the sidelines with his knee wrapped after coming out of the game in the second half against the San Francisco 49ers at CenturyLink Field on September 25, 2016 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has a left knee injury, to go with his right ankle injury. But it apparently won’t cause him to miss a beat.

“We’re planning on practicing him on Wednesday,” coach Pete Carroll told reporters regarding Wilson on Monday. Asked whether Wilson will be limited in practice, Carroll said, “We’ll see.”

Carroll initially said he expects Wilson to play on Sunday, with this caveat: “It’s really early to say because he hasn’t done anything other than just convince me of that thought, he’s done a very good job so far.”

Given the manner in which Wilson’s knee bent while being sacked against the 49ers, it’s amazing that practicing or playing is even a possibility. Carroll said earlier in the day that Wilson has an MCL sprain, of undisclosed degree.

“[H]e’s remarkably well off for having a play like that,” Carroll said. “He looks very good, very upbeat and positive about feeling like he’s going to be fine. It was just all positive.”

Carroll added that Wilson is “still working on his ankle a little bit,” and the coach was unable to say when the knee will heal.

The challenge for Wilson becomes avoiding new injuries while Wilson has limited mobility due to the two injuries he currently had. With a makeshift. work-in-progress offensive line, that will be easier said than done.

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Saints, Falcons players link hands in pregame show of unity

NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 27:  Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints leaves the field following a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 27, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  New Orleans defeated Jacksonville 38-27. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) Getty Images

All players from the Falcons and Saints stood for the singing of the national anthem Monday night, then they left the sidelines and headed towards midfield.

After the national anthem, players and coaches from both teams formed a circle around the 50-yard line and held hands for a show of unity and moment of reflection. Some bowed their heads, and after a few seconds the teams returned to their respective sidelines.

ESPN cameras followed the players and the circle, and play-by-play man Sean McDonough seemed to know it was coming. McDonough said players from both teams had discussed it and decided to go with a show of unity in light of last week’s police shootings and various demonstrations that have been going on around the NFL.

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Cowboys placing Collins on IR

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 8: Cole Beasley #11 and teammate La'el Collins #71 of the Dallas Cowboys celebrate after Beasley scored a touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles in the second half at AT&T Stadium on November 8, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) Getty Images

Cowboys offensive lineman La’El Collins will be placed on injured reserve with a toe injury, PFT has confirmed.

Collins has a torn ligament in his toe. The Cowboys will place him on injured reserve knowing they could possibly bring him back in 8-10 weeks if he heals properly.

Teams can activate one player per season from the injured-reserve list.

Collins, who went undrafted in 2015 because he was linked to a murder investigation involving an ex-girlfriend, started 11 games last season at left guard and has started all three this season.

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49ers OL Anthony Davis officially retires

TAMPA, FL -  DECEMBER 15:  Tackle Anthony Davis #76 of the San Francisco 49ers sets to block against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers December 15, 2013 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images) Getty Images

49ers offensive lineman Anthony Davis has informed the team that he’s retiring.

Davis had retired before last season, returned this season and had contemplated retirement before the regular season started. He suffered a concussion in practice following the season opener and isn’t planning to play again.

The team announced the news with a one-sentence statement.

A first-round pick in 2010, Davis started 71 of 72 career games at right tackle. He first retired after being limited to seven games in 2014.

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Report: Langford will miss 4-6 weeks

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 25: Jeremy Langford #33 of the Chicago Bears runs in the third quarter during a game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Chicago Bears at AT&T Stadium on September 25, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Getty Images

Bears running back Jeremy Langford is expected to miss 4-6 weeks after suffering an ankle injury Sunday night vs. the Cowboys, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Monday night.

Bears Coach John Fox told reporters Monday that Langford had sprained his ankle but didn’t offer a timetable or many details about the injury.

Langford started the first three games of the season and ran for a touchdown in each of the first two. With Kadeem Carey out of the game with an injury, rookie Jordan Howard took over for Langford against the Cowboys.

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Julio Jones active, Kenny Vaccaro inactive on Monday night

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 18:  Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons scores a 21-yard touchdown against the Oakland Raiders during their NFL game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on September 18, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Falcons listed wide receiver Julio Jones as questionable to play because of a calf injury kept him from practicing twice last week, but it won’t keep him from playing on Monday night.

As he predicted after getting in a limited practice on Saturday, Jones is in the lineup for the NFC South matchup. The Falcons will also have safety Keanu Neal in the lineup for the first time since drafting him in the first round this year. Neal had knee surgery during the preseason.

The Saints didn’t have the same luck with the players they listed as questionable. Safety Kenny Vaccaro won’t be able to play because of an ankle injury while, as previously reported, a toe injury will sideline wide receiver Willie Snead. Linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, defensive tackle Tyeler Davison and tight end Josh Hill also drew the designation before being ruled out Monday. Left tackle Terron Armstead and cornerback Delvin Breaux were ruled out on Friday.

Linebackers De’Vondre Campbell and Paul Worrilow were ruled out on Friday as well. They join safety Dashon Goldson, defensive lineman Courtney Upshaw, guard Mike Person, guard Wes Schweitzer and tight end Joshua Perkins on the Atlanta inactive list.

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Thomas Rawls to miss more time

BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 13: Running back Thomas Rawls #34 of the Seattle Seahawks carries the ball past inside linebacker Daryl Smith #51 of the Baltimore Ravens in the first quarter at M&T Bank Stadium on December 13, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) Getty Images

Seahawks running back Thomas Rawls was listed as doubtful heading into Sunday’s game against the 49ers because of a leg injury, but he’ll be out on their reports in the near future.

Coach Pete Carroll said on Monday that further evaluation of the injury showed “a little crack” in the bone that will sideline Rawls for the time being.

‘They were able to find a little something in there in the evaluations today that wasn’t clear a week ago,” Carroll said, via Curtis Crabtree of PFT and 950 KJR. “It makes sense for how uncomfortable he was feeling. He’s got a little crack there that we’ve just got to take care of and wait it out a little bit.”

Carroll said that injured reserve wasn’t a consideration for Rawls at the moment and that the running back won’t be “incapacitated” as a result of the injury.

Christine Michael ran 20 times for 105 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday. Alex Collins and Terrence Magee worked behind him with C.J. Prosise inactive with a hand injury.

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Report: Browns offensive lineman Bailey arrested for OVI

KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 16:  Alvin Bailey #78 of the Seattle Seahawks walks to the line of scrimmage in the third quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on November 16, 2014 in Kansas City, Missouri.  The Chiefs defeated the Seahawks 24-20.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) Getty Images

Browns offensive lineman Alvin Bailey was arrested for operating a vehicle while intoxicated early Monday morning, a few hours after returning from an overtime loss at Miami.

The Royalton Post reported that Bailey admitted to drinking on the team plane and later at a business in the area.

Officers also found marijuana in the car, the report said, and in addition to failing sobriety tests and being arrested for OVI, Bailey was cited for failure to comply, drug abuse, drug paraphernalia, speed and driving an unsafe vehicle due to a cracked windshield. He’s due in court later this week.

The Browns released a statement in which executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown said the team has expressed its “displeasure and extreme disappointment” with Bailey. It also said Bailey’s claim that he was drinking on the team plane would be a violation of team and league rules and would make Bailey potentially subject to team discipline.

Bailey signed with the Browns last March and started at right guard in Sunday’s overtime loss to the Dolphins. He spent the last three seasons with the Seahawks.

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Week Three ratings down, again

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Good news came Thursday night for the NFL, with an increase in ratings over the same spot in 2015, even though the Patriots bulled over the Texans. The rest of the TV viewership ratings for Week Three, in comparison to 2015, was not as good.

Via SportsBusiness Daily, the overnight ratings were down for Sunday Night Football on NBC and the late-afternoon national window on CBS.

The Bears-Cowboys game in prime time generated an overnight rating of 12.9, a seven-percent drop over the 13.8 from Broncos-Lions a year ago. Steelers-Eagles in the 4:25 p.m. ET slot dropped by one percent from Bears-Seahawks a year earlier.

In the early-afternoon regional windows, CBS saw an 18-percent decline over 2015, even with Broncos-Bengals delivered to 65-percent of the nation. FOX realized a three-percent increase, however, with games like Vikings-Panthers on the docket.

The week surely will be ending on a sour note, with Falcons-Saints going up against a presidential debate that some are opting to refer to in South Parkian terms. Via SBD, the all-time low for Monday Night Football since the NFL switch it from broadcast to cable came in December 2007, with only 8.449 million watching.

Don’t be surprised if Monday night’s numbers are a lot lower.

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Report: Greg Hardy arrested for drug possession

05-greg-hardy.w529.h352 Getty Images

Former Panthers and Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy has been arrested for drug possession.

NBC 5 in Dallas is reporting that Hardy was arrested in the Dallas suburb of Richardson on Sunday for possession of a controlled substance. He was taken to the Richardson City Jail, where he remained as of Monday afternoon.

There is no immediate word on the substance Hardy possessed, or any information about the circumstances surrounding his arrest.

Hardy was once among the best pass rushers in the NFL, but after the Ray Rice domestic violence incident put the NFL under intense scrutiny, Hardy became toxic for his own past domestic violence arrest. Although charges against Hardy were eventually dropped, he never played for the Panthers again after the Rice elevator video became public.

In 2015 he signed with the Cowboys, but this year no team has shown any interest in him. He was already a long shot to return to the NFL even if he stayed on his best behavior, and a drug arrest could end any hope he had of playing in the NFL again.

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