With four seconds remaining in the Super Bowl, fans across the Baltimore area clenched fists and clasped hands in prayer.
"This is the longest four seconds of my life," said Karen Connell, 36, who stared at a television at 3 Miles House in Baltimore's Remington neighborhood.
Baltimore spent most of three quarters of the Super Bowl in jubilation, only to descend into anxious quietude as the San Francisco 49ers clawed back into a game that the Ravens seemed to have had in hand. But with a final rally extinguished, the confetti fell and the tension melted away.
Crowds spilled into the region's streets to celebrate, and Connell was relieved to finally exhale. "I can breathe again," she said.
Her big group of friends who had lived in the neighborhood all their lives began cheering and whistling. Her husband, Mike Connell, 33, kissed her.
Across town in Fells Point, fans charged out of bars and climbed flower pots and light posts. Men began taking their shirts off and climbed trees. Car horns honked and fireworks rumbled in the sky outside the Dizz bar in Baltimore. People blew vuvuzelas and waved sparklers. Neighborhood streets swelled with purple pride.
"There are no words," said Michelle Sarsitis, an Ellicott City resident who was at GL Shacks in Catonsville. "It's been an amazing ride with lots of ups and downs. But at the end of the day, it's all about teamwork. And we had more of it. The Ravens had more of it."
The partying was mostly peaceful except for reports of property damage, including to television and radio vans in Federal Hill.
A large crowd went into a 7-Eleven at East Lombard Street and South Broadway and began sacking shelves. Police saw the incident on CitiWatch cameras and sent in mounted patrol officers who chased the people out. No injuries were reported, police said.
In a game with big momentum swings, emotions around the region swung with them: up, then down and finally into relief and exuberance.
"It was awesome!" said Lauren Lucido, who wore a purple wig to watch the game in Federal Hill. "It was a little too close at the end, but I'm glad they were able to pull it out."
Anthony Johnson, who had driven from Southern Maryland to Bertha's restaurant in Fells Point, said he couldn't bear to watch the game in Redskins country.
"I want to be around purple," he said. "Win or lose, I'm gonna be with my people."
His people were out in purple passion all across Baltimore. They attended church in purple jerseys, shopped for Super Bowl snacks in purple caps, drank purple mimosas and sprayed purple cans of beer to cap touchdown celebrations.
Alizabeth Weisberg had been as purple as possible hours before the game: Ravens jersey, hair bands, earrings, nails, eye shadow, tights, leg warmers, stickers on both cheeks, purple underwear. But she felt something was missing.
She took advantage of a hairdresser's offer to color her locks for the weekend.
"How many other days in the year do you get to spray your hair purple?" said Weisberg, 25, a Baltimore-area native who now lives in Miami and flew in to watch the Super Bowl in Ravens central.
Allison Obinger, 25, and Mary Everett, 26, both of Parkville, arrived at the Rec Room in Towson at 1:45 p.m. to make sure they would have seats. Mike Bloomer drove back home from outside Cleveland, where he had just started a new job, to make sure he was at a Catonsville tailgating party with his family and hometown friends.
"As soon as we won the AFC Championship game, I knew I wanted to be home," Bloomer said. "I'm just happy to be home."
Soul music piped through the jukebox in New Johnson's Bar in Baltimore's Midtown-Edmondson neighborhood before kickoff and people on the other side of the bar sipped on cognac, tequila and vodka. Some people weren't into the game.
But everyone seemed into the party.
"I'm a fan of the atmosphere," said Stacey Tate, 34.
A TV was on behind the bar, and the tiny, dimly lit space had Ravens posters plastered on the walls and purple and white balloons bobbing from the ceiling.
Mike Crowder, 46, a car salesman at Frankl Acura, said he's never forgiven the Colts for leaving town and wore a red polo shirt showing his allegiance to the 49ers.
"All my friends are for the Ravens, but I don't care," he said. "My whole job's against me, but I'm going to be the one who's smiling Monday."
Another woman, a Giants fan who wouldn't give her name, bantered with Tate, talking smack about the Ravens and forecasting a loss. But Tate believed.
"The city needs the win," Tate said.
As game time neared, a group of college-age girls stood upset outside of a Fells Point bar. Nearby establishments had posted "Sold Out" and "Capacity" signs, and the young group had experienced the same welcome in Federal Hill. The game was minutes away and they had nowhere to go.
Those smart enough to have showed up early to a sports bar started planning a victory party even before the game began.
"After we win, we're going to paint the town purple," said Danyelle Dorsey, decked out in purple cat-eye sunglasses with blinking white lights, high-fiving her friend Tyresha Thomas.
Few cars or people could be seen on the streets during the Super Bowl. Baltimore police had deployed scores of officers to the entertainment districts of the Inner Harbor, Federal Hill, Canton and Fells Point, which all had surrounding streets closed to traffic by halftime. But with everyone's attention on the football game, officers were seen twirling their nightsticks and talking in groups. Police agencies reported few problems during the game.
"I think it's great how the whole town rallies around the Ravens," said Chris Murray, in between accepting hugs from his friends at Banditos Tacos & Tequila bar in Federal Hill. "We don't need a reason to party in Baltimore but the Ravens make it all the better."
With every play that favored the Ravens, Larry Derr jumped up and down with such enthusiasm the floor at Banditos shook.
"I feel beyond ... oh my God," Derr said. "When they win, I win."
Fans in Harford County, too, struggled for words.
"Phenomenal," said Carl Johnson of Fawn Grove, Pa., a Dark Horse Saloon patron. "Looks like they're going to do it!"
Ravens fans in the Rec Room and Souris' Saloon couldn't take their eyes off of the television.
"A lot of people were doubting us, but we're doing well so far," Baltimore City resident Orlando Walker, 29, said from the Rec Room as the game went to halftime. "I just feel like we're on a high right now -- and there's no stopping us."
The power outage at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome might have brought the football game to a halt, but celebrations continued in Fells Point as steady snow fell outside. But in a span of a few minutes, the game tightened as the 49ers roared back and the bars quieted in anxiety.
"Terrified. Extreme panic," said Emily Kegerise, watching at Bertha's. "We were up so many points."
But as the game swung back to the Ravens, crowds at the Charles Village Pub in Baltimore cheered and chanted, "Let's go, Ravens," then poured into the street, some in T-shirts and shorts. They could be heard as far away as Oakenshawe, where neighbors banged pots and pans. Fireworks were visible from the Greenmount Avenue area.
Baltimore police said the city's celebrations were concentrated in Fells Point and Federal Hill where thousands of fans flooded the streets. Crowds took down a light pole in Fells Point and damaged four news vans belonging to WBAL TV, WBAL Radio and FOX 45, Baltimore police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said.
Crowds began to dissipate at about midnight, and police officials were mostly pleased with the generally peaceful celebrations. During the game, a woman was shot at a house party in the 2800 block of Woodbrook Avenue. Police said they have a person of interest in custody in that shooting, which appears to be from accidental discharge.
After the game, while some fans partied, others headed out to stock up on Ravens championship gear. Around midnight at Dick's Sporting Goods in Columbia Crossing shopping center, fans raided the shelves to get their hands on Super Bowl Champions gear.
"I told myself I wasn't going to waste any time," said Elkridge resident Cheryl Guyton. "I got a magnet, a sweat shirt, T-shirts, cups, and I might not be done yet."
Baltimore Sun Media Group reporters Alison Matas, Ian Duncan, Carrie Wells, Jamie Smith Hopkins, David Anderson, Jon Meoli, Larry Perl, Luke Lavoie and Julie Baughman contributed to this report
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