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From left, Baltimore Ravens inside linebacker Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs and Ray Rice celebrate after the NFL football AFC Championship football game against the New England Patriots in Foxborough, Mass., Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013. The Ravens defeated the Patriots, 28-13, to advance to Super Bowl XLVII. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
From left, Baltimore Ravens inside linebacker Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs and Ray Rice celebrate after the NFL football AFC Championship football game against the New England Patriots in Foxborough, Mass., Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013. The Ravens defeated the Patriots, 28-13, to advance to Super Bowl XLVII. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola) (Elise Amendola, Carroll County Times)

This is the season the Baltimore Ravens have pushed each of their old obstacles to the Super Bowl out of the way.

For the first four years of John Harbaugh's regime, the Pittsburgh Steelers, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady ended their season a game or two short of the ultimate game.

In this unlikely season, the Ravens moved them all out of the way. The Steelers didn't make the playoffs, Manning was eliminated by Baltimore eight days before, and on Sunday it was Brady who fell away.

And, it was Joe Flacco, yes that Joe Flacco who's going to the Super Bowl, not Manning, and not Brady.

"You guys can write that. You guys can write great stories about that. You can put it in way better words than I can. We've always believed in Joe," Harbaugh said.

Before Manning and Brady, there was the game against the Colts, without Manning, but with their outstanding rookie quarterback Andrew Luck.

"For Joe to come out and have this kind of a game on this kind of a stage three weeks in a row," Harbaugh said. "All those guys are great quarterbacks, but Joe's a great quarterback. Joe hasn't just proven that this year. He's proven it for five years."

Baltimore goes to its first Super Bowl since 2000, and now America gets to hear the Harbaugh vs. Harbaugh storyline for two full weeks.

A year after the New England Patriots broke the Ravens hearts, or perhaps Lee Evans and Billy Cundiff broke Baltimore's, it was finally John Harbaugh's turn.

In each of Harbaugh's first four years, the Ravens were eliminated by the eventual AFC Champion - the Steelers in 2009, the Indianapolis Colts a year later, and Pittsburgh again in 2011.

In 2012, these same two teams played a tense game with Baltimore walking away convinced it had the better team.

"We came here last year and left with a bitter taste in our mouth because this team something away from us," Anquan Boldin said. "We wanted to come in and make that right."

After a 9-2 start to this season, the Ravens finished the regular season with four losses in five weeks. But, after Ray Lewis announced he wasn't going to play again next season, Baltimore revitalized and they dominated the Colts in Lewis' emotional farewell.

Manning seemingly had the Ravens beaten before Baltimore pulled off a classic comeback, and on Sunday after a lackluster first half, the Ravens played magnificently in the second half.

Late in the fourth quarter, Flacco finally pictured himself in New Orleans.

"I think we're going to go. I think we're going to go," Flacco said. "After we went out there and were able to run the ball, we were pretty confident."

Twelve years ago, the Brian Billick-led Ravens throttled the Oakland Raiders in the AFC Championship Game. This time, Harbaugh faces his brother Jim, whose brother John's San Francisco 49ers won the NFC Championship earlier Sunday. Last year, both Harbaugh teams lost on championship Sunday.

For a half of Sunday's game, Baltimore was outplayed in every aspect of the game. Fortunately for the Ravens, their second half was as well as they've played all season.

The Patriots' kickoffs and punts pinned Baltimore deep in its territory. There was the direct snap to Danny Woodhead on fourth down, and a key unnecessary roughness penalty on Dannell Ellerbee, one of three against the Ravens.

In the second half, Baltimore finally looked efficient. Flacco's passes began finding a home, and the Ravens - not the Steelers, not Peyton Manning, not Tom Brady - are going to the Super Bowl.

"Long time coming," Ed Reed said.

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