Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 1/22/13
This probably goes without saying, but even before Anna Burns Welker took to Facebook, there has been a simmering, mutual distaste between us Marylanders and our New England brethren.  We think they're arrogant, entitled jerks and they think we're whiny, in-your-face upstarts.  The perfect recipe for a rivalry in any sport.However, with the success of both region's football teams, the intensity and import of these meetings is ratcheted up.  For the second year in a row, the Baltimore Ravens and the New England Patriots would meet with a berth to the Super Bowl on the line.  Last year, I watched the game from Oslo, in my cold, dark apartment on a Norwegian, sports channel.  Norway is six hours ahead of the east coast and so the game didn't kick-off until 9pm and concluded after midnight.  My girlfriend's friend was visiting and she spent most of the evening shooting me scathing looks, which I ignored, because our living room doubled as her bedroom and she wanted to go to sleep.  It wasn't the best night of my life.This year, fortuitously, I was back in Maryland for the game.  There was no place else I would have rather been.My brother picked me up from my parent's house at halftime of the NFC Championship game and we met up with several friends at The Tilted Pig in the Baltimore neighborhood of Pigtown.  We secured a table upstairs and watched the finish of the 49ers victory.  As the game ended, the crowd started coming in and the place got packed pretty quickly.  The Natty Bohs were free-flowing and the mood was guardedly hopeful, especially after Ray Lewis' overwhelmed reaction during the national anthem.  The first quarter was full of muted responses and the crowd didn't really respond until Ray Rice's touchdown run early in the second quarter.  High fives and shouting.  It was short-lived as the Patriots marched down and scored a touchdown of their own.  However, the crowd was distracted by another development.  It seems there is a rotating DJ schedule on Sundays and a guy, who slipped in with most of the crowd and silently set-up his gear, began his set, oblivious of the game and crowd's interest in it.  After being told, in varying ways of politeness, he turned the music off.  As the game went to halftime and Joe Flacco kept missing open receivers, my only thought was "If the Ravens can keep it a one score game, they'll have a chance".  After Brady tried to kick out Ed Reed's knee and forgot how much time was left in the half, mission was accomplished.  13-7.  The mood was strongly confident.  The air of doubt and concern had lifted.  Halfway through the contest, the Ravens were going toe-to-toe with the big bad Patriots and holding up.  The DJ cranked up the music.  All through the intermission period, the beat thumped and the noise built and people danced.  The confidence didn't subside after a three-and-out to start the second half and it wouldn't.  The details start to blur (I attribute this fact to a combination of natty boh, excitement, and complimentary shots), but the noise kept building and the commercial breaks were filled with more music and more people dancing.  Until Boldin's second touchdown and the music just stayed on through the duration.  I will never forget the look of shock and excitement and disbelief on the faces of the other patrons.  We all hoped the Ravens would win, we all believed they would win, but, after being nine point underdogs, we were just disbelieving that it was actually happening.  A chant of "Super Bowl!" kicked up and we begin talking about flying to New Orleans for the game.  After Cary Williams' interception, the owner brought out bottles of champagne and handed them out.  On the house.  As you see below, we were turnt up.After the game, we headed over to Federal Hill, a nearby neighborhood with a lot of bars.  Driving down the streets, there was total euphoria playing out.  People dancing on cars, horns being honked, fireworks being set off, Ravens' and state of Maryland flags being waved.  We passed M&T Bank stadium and there was a large group of people set up in the parking lot blasting the Ravens' de facto anthem.  Federal Hill was a mob scene.  As usual on weekends, the streets of Cross and Charles were blocked, but there was twice the number of officers in place.  They were trying, in vain, to keep the crowd moving and in establishments, but thousands of people were outside, letting the moment sink in.  Everything was covered in purple.  I'm sure there were Patriots' fans amongst the gathering, but they were incognito.  Purple everywhere.  We ended up at our favorite bar, Nobles.  There were hugs and laughs with complete strangers.  There were shots and drinks handed out and, collectively, we, as a city, tried to come to terms with what happened.  Ray Lewis' final game will be the Super Bowl.We were going to the Super Bowl.  Twelve years since the last time.  The party is just starting.
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