New Orleans: Just as it was during many of their childhood contests, John Harbaugh prevailed over his little brother Jim in Sunday’s battle of coaching siblings, this time with the small matter of a Super Bowl at stake.
John and the Baltimore Ravens clung on for a thrilling 34-31 win over Jim’s San Francisco 49ers in a Super Bowl that had everything.
The brothers met at midfield after the game as the confetti rained down. “I told him I loved him,” John said. “He said, ‘Congratulations’.”
Jim Harbaugh declined a postgame TV interview but spoke a few minutes later. He took the loss hard and raised several questions about calls and non-calls made by the officials.
“[We] had several opportunities in the game. Didn’t play our best game. Ravens made a lot of plays,” he said. “Our guys battled back to get back in it. We competed and battled to win.”
With mother Jackie and dad Jack watching on, the Harbaugh brothers made the big calls in a championship game to remember.
Baltimore raced to a 22-point lead before a power cut delayed the game for half an hour. Then San Francisco stormed back to get within two points but ultimately came up short.
After the game, Jack and Jackie stood nearby as John took the interview podium as the winning coach. Neither parent smiled much, clearly dealing with mixed feelings, although they looked proud.
“I knew it was going to be a hard-fought game and very, very competitive,” Jack Harbaugh said.
“I’m so proud of John. We talked about where he started at Western Michigan University as a graduate assistant, and then to stand on this stage with the ultimate prize, I’m just so proud of him - and so proud of Jim. ... I knew he was coming back. He was going to fight back and he did and made it a great football game, maybe one of the great games in Super Bowl history.”
Asked how he felt moments after the win, John Harbaugh said “It feels just like you think. It feels great!”
And what about his brother?
“It’s tough. It’s very tough,” John Harbaugh said.
“It’s a lot tougher than I thought it was going to be. It’s very painful.
“Jim is a great competitor. I just believe in him and I have so much respect for him. I admire him. I look up to him in so many ways and I am hurting for him in that sense.”