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Adversity strikes every NFL team in every NFL season in some capacity. Injuries are a part of the game, but they were a major part of the Baltimore Ravens story of 2012—particularly defensively. Ray Lewis tore his triceps—an injury that’s supposed to end a player’s season—and returned just in time to make a lot of noise in the playoffs, racking up 44 total tackles in the first three games.
Terrell Suggs started the season on the physically unable to perform list, totaled just two sacks in eight regular-season games after a 14-sack Defensive Player of the Year campaign in 2011 and matched his 2012 regular-season sack total in three playoff games since.
The team’s No. 1 cornerback, Lardarius Webb, tore his ACL in an Oct. 14 game against the Dallas Cowboys and has been out for the season since. Despite all that, the Ravens are the team with the hotter defense heading into the Super Bowl—a major testament to coach John Harbaugh and all the guys who filled in for the stars who went down.
Across the country, Jim Harbaugh found himself with a quarterback quandary with the San Francisco 49ers. He had to choose between the safety of Alex Smith and the potential of Colin Kaepernick. Against conventional wisdom, he went with the young guy: a decision that could have been catastrophic.
Jim took a major risk offensively, as did John—who fired his offensive coordinator and play-caller Cam Cameron with just a handful of games left in the regular season.
EDGE: John Harbaugh