Ravens, 49ers set for Superdome showdown

Ravens, 49ers set for Superdome showdown

NEW ORLEANS - Agence France-Presse
Ravens, 49ers set for Superdome showdown

EPA Photo

Super Bowl 47 will be the first to feature sibling coaches but on Feb. 3, the spotlight will be shining on Baltimore’s rock-solid defense or San Francisco’s explosive offense.

The National Football League’s championship spectacular is a classic matchup of the Ray Lewis-led Ravens defence and the San Francisco air and running attack keyed by versatile second-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

“The guys want the game to come so quickly,” said linebacker Lewis. “We just have to taper back all of our energies, all of our emotions ... and just enjoy the ride at the same time.”

It is the first time two brothers, John Harbaugh of the Ravens and Jim Harbaugh of the 49ers, have coached against each other in a title game.

Back to New Orleans

The first Super Bowl in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina in 2005 will also mark Lewis’ last hurrah after a 17-year career.

The Ravens look like this year’s team of destiny, but San Francisco has history on its side with a 5-0 Super Bowl record.

Lewis, who will retire after the game, will lead the way for his Ravens at the Superdome stadium, just blocks from the famed Bourbon Street.

The 49ers are returning to the Super Bowl after 18 years to face the Ravens, who aim to add a second title after 2001.

“It is crazy man,” said 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis. “I’ve never been a super-emotional guy when it comes to making a play or winning a game. But right now we are here at the Super Bowl.”

Willis’ NFC champion 49ers weren’t ready for prime time last year, missing out on a Super Bowl berth with a loss to the New York Giants in the conference championship game. But they are now and won’t want to slip up after winning all five Super Bowls they have contested in 1982, 1985, 1989, 1990 and 1995.

The Ravens won their only previous Super Bowl, by routing the Giants 34-7.

Both the 49ers and the Ravens have had to weather adversity this season.

The difficulties didn’t let up this week either with the 49ers having to quell controversy caused by anti-gay remarks from their cornerback Chris Culliver and Lewis having to defend himself against a report that linked him to a deer antler spray that contains a substance banned by the NFL.

Former Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Lewis will be looking for a big impact in his final game, hoping to ride off into the sunset with a second Super Bowl ring.

Brother rivalry

Then there’s the Harbaugh Bowl, with San Francisco’s Jim going up against his brother John, who is 15 months older. The brothers have 34 combined NFL seasons, including Jim’s 15-year career as a quarterback.

Asked how hard it will be to face his brother, John said: “It is probably a little tougher emotionally. I will have a better answer for you after the game.”

The Ravens won the last matchup between the two teams 16-6 in November 2011. That was the first coaching clash between the Harbaughs.

But there is more on the line this time with the winners collecting $88,000 dollars in prize money per player while the losers earn $42,000 each.

Super Bowl week always comes with plenty of hype and this year is no exception.

Television commercials cost a record $4 million for a 30-second spot. Pop stars Beyonce will headline the halftime show and Alicia Keys will sing the national anthem.

Beyonce to sing live at Super Bowl

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana - AFP

Beyonce vowed to sing live at her Super Bowl half-time show, confirming she sang along to a pre-recorded track of the U.S. national anthem at President Barack Obama’s inauguration.

The chart-topping pop diva kicked off a press conference in New Orleans ahead of the big game by singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” a cappella after asking reporters: “Would you guys mind standing?”

Fielding questions afterwards, she declared: “I am absolutely going to sing live [on Feb. 3]. I am well-rehearsed and absolutely singing live. This was what I was born to do.”

She also cleared the air about her Jan. 21 performance at Obama’s second-term inauguration in Washington that prompted allegations that she had lip-synched the words to the national anthem.

“I always sing live,” Beyonce said, but “this inauguration was unfortunately a time where I could
not rehearse with the orchestra [the US Marine Band] because I was practicing for the Super Bowl - that was always the plan. Typically they have you sing a pre-recorded track because anything could go wrong,” she added, referring to organizers of the inaugural ceremony. “I did sing along with the pre-recorded track.”

Poultry industry confident about chicken wing stocks


In the run-up to the Super Bowl on Feb. 3, millions of American football fans can rest assured: there is no looming shortage of their beloved chicken wings.

The National Chicken Council estimates that the nation will wolf down 1.23 billion chicken wings over Super Bowl weekend, or nearly four wings for each and every American. But fears that restaurants, bars, fast food outlets and supermarkets will run out of the savory snack are unfounded, the industry group said.

“There is sufficient frozen poultry in storage,” council spokesman Tom Super told AFP, citing the latest data from the US Department of Agriculture.

“There will be no wing shortage,” he said. “They might be a little more expensive, but there will be plenty to go around.”

The National Restaurant Association estimates 48 million Americans will either take out or call in food for the big game, with 63 percent naming chicken wings as their “must-have” finger food.“When it comes to favorite game-watching foods, dips, chicken wings and pizza top the list,” the restaurant group’s senior vice president Hudson Riehle said in a statement.

He added that, judging from a research, “about two out of five individuals who plan to watch the big game say that healthful food items are a must on their table that day.” That said, 18 percent of respondents to a CouponCabin.com survey identified “the dieter - the one counting calories on one of the most celebrated days of junk food” as the most undesirable Super Bowl companion.

Chicken wings are so popular among Americans that they typically cost more in U.S. supermarkets than they do in Europe.

“I think we like the flavor of the meat combined with the fat and the skin” and served up in so many ways, Super said. “And they do so well in bars because the spicy and salty nature of wings pair perfectly with beer.”