By Mark Felicetti
My friends picked an all-you-can-eat sushi place that I hate, and asked me to give it another chance.
It’s so bad I refer to it as “All You Can Wait.”
I was right.
The glacier-paced service was impersonal and the sushi chef’s name was Miguel … you do the math.
Miguel was so slow that fish were dying of natural causes.
Two of the quail eggs hatched. The chicks matured, mated, built a nest, and raised a brood of their own.
But that was buffered by the bright smiles of the two pretty ladies (a young mother and 9-year old daughter) sitting around the corner from us.
The little one was somewhere between a soccer star and a prima ballerina. Mommy talked of Italian cooking, travel, and heritage … both were very sports savvy.
As usual, I was wearing a San Francisco 49ers T-shirt and the ballerina pointed at it and said, “Oh, I love your shirt!”
Football became the topic.
Mommy commented on the Atlanta Falcons’ easy schedule and the ballerina predicted the Niners would beat them.
She was right.
I said S.F. would dominate the entire game.
I was wrong.
Things looked bleak when the 49ers fell behind, 17-0.
Falcons QB Matt Ryan repeatedly targeted three receivers and San Francisco’s defense had trouble stopping them.
The S.F. offensive couldn’t get into rhythm until halfway into the 2nd quarter and they ended the half trailing, 24-14.
But the Niners’ never panicked.
They returned to the field and made some adjustments on both sides of the ball.
The defense began shutting down big plays. They forced turnovers, sacked Ryan, and kept the Falcons scoreless in the second half.
Niners QB Colin Kaepernick began to spread the ball around. He still hit his favorite Wide Receiver Michael Crabtree six times but he also sent the ball to Randy Moss for a nice chunk of lawn and Vernon Davis pulled in five passes, ripped up 106 total yards of turf, and scored a TD.
Their rushing game caught fire.
Running Back Frank Gore mowed 90-yards of grass on 21 carries, for two TD’s and speedster RB LaMichael James had 5 runs and a TD of his own.
Things got tense on Atlanta’s final drive.
On 3rd and 2 at the 50, Falcons WR Harry Douglas “caught” a ball for a 22-yard gain.
Niners head coach Jim Harbaugh challenged the “catch.”
Quotation marks … because it wasn’t.
Douglas was pulling in the ball as he hit the ground; it came out of his grip and slid down to his legs where he re-captured it.
The call on the field was upheld … Harbaugh went ballistic.
He jumped, pounded the ground, threw things, and screamed at the referee.
Harbaugh has an Arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) and you know that ref had to be thinking, “Uh … how many compressions per minute is it?”
Atlanta moved into the red zone on the next play.
But one-man-wrecking crew, Line Backer Patrick Willis made two tackles and Ryan’s last-ditch-effort passes were broken up by S.F. defenders.
The Niners won 28-24, pulling off the biggest comeback victory in an NFC Championship game.
The AFC Championship game pitted the New England Patriots against the Baltimore Ravens.
There were a couple of notable similarities between this game and the NFC match.
The Ravens were playing an away game, their head coach is John Harbaugh (Jim’s brother), and the Ravens left the field at the half trailing, 13-3.
The similarities continued into the 2nd half.
The Ravens defense shut down QB Tom Brady, hurried him, and intercepted him twice.
They held the Pats scoreless for the entire second half while Ravens’ QB Joe Flacco threw three TD passes to win the game 28-13.
The Baltimore Ravens will face the San Francisco 49ers on February 3rd, 2013 in Super Bowl XLVII.
It should be noted that my ballerina also stated that the 49ers would go on to win the Super Bowl.