They might have been playing one of those old-fashioned table football games, one with pushbuttons and cards, in the kitchen of a one-family home in Ann Arbor.

Two brothers. The older one, quiet, sometimes smiling, cerebral. The younger, eyes flashing, yelling, gesturing, also cerebral.

John Harbaugh versus Jim Harbaugh.

Competitors! Brothers!

It might have been settled in the kitchen before an October dinner — because that's what kids do. They love sports and they play together and build sibling rivalries.

But this game was real, not a kitchen table war of buzzers and little wooden figures. This was genuine American football — with a national audience and the world watching these two brothers battle wits in Super Bowl XLVII.

And indeed they did battle.

In the end, John Harbaugh won it. The genuine thing.

Barely. By three points, and 5 yards to spare — and by giving Jim two points with four seconds left.

Not a gift for kid brother. It was strategy. A deliberate safety, followed by the free kick with four seconds left.

A little bit better

For most of this Super Bowl, John's Ravens pretty much outfought and out-defended Jim's 49ers. In the end, John's team outlasted Jim's team. Baltimore won this Super Bowl, 34-31, Sunday.

Sort of like a pillow fight they might have had in the bedroom they shared in Ann Arbor.

But the truth is John outcoached his kid brother.

Just a little bit.

Just enough to win.

"We were not perfect," said John. "It was not pretty."

Indeed, Jim's 49ers came almost all the way back from a 22-point deficit in the second half.

They were short by those vital, valuable 5 yards.

From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20130204/OPINION03/302040344#ixzz2JwC8DQbx