NFL: Dennis Pitta, Paul Kruger boost Baltimore's bid to reach Super Bowl

By David Driver

For the Deseret News

Published: Sunday, Jan. 20 2013 12:33 a.m. MST

"When he was coming out of BYU, I was preaching to the coaches and scouts to go get Dennis," Beck recalled. "I knew he would succeed. He is so athletic for his size and with the way he can make acrobatic catches, I knew he would impress them in camp. From Day 1 after he was drafted, he showed all those things. He was very consistent. Some guys have drops here or there — I don't think I've ever seen Dennis drop an easy one."

Kruger and Pitta, of course, are not the only Baltimore players with Utah ties.

All-pro defensive tackle Haloti Ngata is from Salt Lake City and went to Highland High before starring at the University of Oregon, and defensive tackle Ma'ake Kemoeatu also played for the Utes. Ngata and Kemoeatu each had two tackles against Denver.

Ngata told reporters this week he was eager to face New England again.

"I think we personally kind of wanted to play the Patriots again," Ngata said. "If we go to the Super Bowl, it would be great to go through Foxborough and win it there. It's another matchup that we're excited about and hopefully we can get it done this year.

"The feeling that we had in that locker room, I think we all wanted to get back to the AFC championship," Ngata added.

Baltimore beat New England in regular-season play back in September but this is the game that matters. New England was listed as a 91/2-point favorite earlier this week.

"I don't care. It's not important," said Baltimore coach John Harbaugh. "That stuff is not important to us. We don't have to place any bets, so it really doesn't matter."

What is different about this year's AFC title game?

"It's been a little longer road for us," Pitta said. "We've had to play two games already, and last year we had the bye and got a little more rest. But we really feel good about the road that we've taken, and we're sitting here as a confident football team and excited for this game."

Contributing: Dirk Facer and Dick Harmon

Championship Sunday

49ers (12-4-1) at Falcons (14-3), 1 p.m., FOX

Ravens (12-6) at Patriots (13-4), 4:30 p.m., CBSRavens coaches with local ties

Several members of the Baltimore coaching staff also have ties to the state of Utah. Tight ends coach Wade Harman is a former assistant at Utah State, former Utah assistant Craig Ver Steeg is a senior offensive assistant, and Bob Rogucki, a former strength and conditioning coach at Weber State, has the same role with the Ravens.Heady goes here

TextRavens coaches with local ties

Several members of the Baltimore coaching staff also have ties to the state of Utah. Tight ends coach Wade Harman is a former assistant at Utah State, former Utah assistant Craig Ver Steeg is a senior offensive assistant, and Bob Rogucki, a former strength and conditioning coach at Weber State, has the same role with the Ravens.Championship Sunday

49ers (12-4-1) at Falcons (14-3), 1 p.m., FOX

Ravens (12-6) at Patriots (13-4), 4:30 p.m., CBS

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