NEW ORLEANS —
"The meeting with Jim in the middle (of the field for the postgame handshake) was probably the most difficult thing I have ever been associated with in my life," the Ravens coach said.
The wild scoring made this the second championship in the NFL's 80-year title game history in which both teams scored at least 30 points. Pittsburgh's 35-31 win over Dallas in 1979 was the other.
The Ravens stumbled into the playoffs with four defeats in its last five regular-season games as Lewis recovered from a torn right triceps and Flacco struggled. Harbaugh even fired his offensive coordinator in December, a stunning move with the postseason so close.
But that — and every other move Harbaugh, Flacco and the Ravens made since — were right on target.
New Orleans native Jones, one of the stars in a double-overtime playoff win at Denver, seemed to put the game away with his record 108-yard sprint with the second-half kickoff.
Soon after, the lights went out — and when they came back on, the Ravens were almost powerless to slow the 49ers.
Until the final moments.
"The final series of Ray Lewis' career was a goal-line stand," Harbaugh said.
Lewis was sprawled on all fours, face-down on the turf, after the end zone incompletion.
"It's no greater way, as a champ, to go out on your last ride with the men that I went out with, with my teammates," Lewis said. "And you looked around this stadium and Baltimore! Baltimore! We coming home, baby! We did it!"
Jim Harbaugh, the coach who turned around the Niners in the last two years and brought them to their first Super Bowl in 18 years, had seen his team make a similarly stunning comeback in the NFC championship at Atlanta, but couldn't finish it off against Baltimore.