It was the first thing Ray Lewis said as he stood on the field, Vince Lombardi Trophy in hand, confetti drifting down around him. He'd said it before, three times in a row, at the Ravens send-off the week before.
"Baltimore! Baltimore! Baltimore!"
We are a city that believes — that wants to believe. But we are also a city with a chip on our shoulder. We get no respect from the media. People think we're just like "The Wire." The Ravens know it, and they're proud of it.
There were so many reasons to win the Super Bowl. To send off Lewis the right way. To prove that Joe Flacco is one of the league's best quarterbacks. But when the game ended, the Ravens made it clear: They won it for us. This was for Baltimore.
"I tell you what — we don't make it easy. But that's the way the city of Baltimore is," Flacco said. "That's the way we are. You know, we did this for them back home."
Can you imagine Tom Brady saying that? Would Peyton Manning hoist the trophy and yell "Denver"?
All season long, it felt too good to be true. A few games in, the Ravens beat the Patriots by a point. They edged out the Cowboys thanks to a missed field goal. The Ravens felt like a lucky team, which made us worry — would the luck run out?
It did, in early December, when the Ravens went on a skid, falling to the Steelers, Redskins and Broncos. Two of those games were at home, where the Ravens almost never lose.
When luck runs out, you find another way to win. And that's just what the Ravens did.
They fired Cam Cameron, and Terrell Suggs and Ray Lewis came back from injuries. Bryant McKinnie rejoined the offensive line, giving Flacco a few more precious seconds to make plays.
The playoffs are all about timing, and the Ravens got hot at the right moment.
Baltimore wanted to win the Super Bowl. But would we?
We had come so close before. Every time, something happened — a dropped pass, a missed field goal.
We are a city of conspiracy theories. Would the NFL make the Patriots win because more people watch them on TV? And what about that blackout in New Orleans? Jacoby Jones pulls off the longest kickoff return in Super Bowl history and the lights go out — for 34 minutes?!?! Suddenly the 49ers were back in the game, and you know the thought crossed your mind: It was rigged.
That didn't stop the Ravens. Not this time.
Deep in the fourth quarter, when the 49ers had one last play to try and win the game, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick heaved the ball into the end zone. All night, announcer Phil Simms had talked about how great Kaepernick was — such a promising young quarterback. He and Jim Nantz pointed out when Ray Lewis missed tackles, and kept reminding us how many points the 49ers scored in the third quarter. They had this game all figured out.
49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree couldn't catch Kaepernick's pass. Lewis and the rest of the Ravens defense wouldn't let it happen.
The Superdome, already a sea of purple, exploded. Back home, traffic stopped and people poured out onto the streets to celebrate.
The Ravens did it. Baltimore did it.
We did it.