BY ERIKA BUTLER, firstname.lastname@example.org
6:10 PM EST, January 22, 2013
Thousands of Harford County residents went crazy after watching the Baltimore Ravens beat the New England Patriots Sunday night, 28-13.
But for the Harford Ravens fans who were in Foxboro for the huge win, that puts the Ravens in the Super Bowl against the San Francisco 49ers, being there was a whole different kind of excitement.
"It was so much fun," Nicole Crone, of Whiteford, said. "It was just, everyone was just excited, so excited. They knew the Ravens were going to win. It was optimistic."
"It rocks. Everyone has been great... so far," Karin Schwartz, a 1990 Fallston High grad, who lives in Parkville, said in a text message from Gillette Stadium, with about seven minutes left in the game.
Laura Finney, of Fallston, won tickets to the game through the Ravens Golden Logo contest. She and her husband, Che, won free 14th row tickets, and free airfare.
They watched as Anquan Boldin handed a touchdown catch to fans in the crowd just rows in front of them.
She was on the bus back to the airport with a lot of the wives and moms of the players.
"...and everyone is ecstatic! This is awesome. So glad we were able to be here for it!" she texted after the game.
Mike Beczkowski, a 1987 John Carroll grad, texted that he could hardly contain his excitement afterward.
"On a scale of one to 10, I'm a 110!" he said from the parking lot at Gillette Stadium.
"It was incredible" to be there in New England, Rich Schwartz, a 1997 Fallston High graduate, said. "To suck the air out of them, the Patriots fans leaving, the Ravens fans in the front row in the end zone and shaking hands of Sizzle [Terrell Suggs], [Justin] Tucker, [Joe] Flacco, [Jacoby] Jones, [Paul] Kruger, all them came around to give high fives. The best thing was to see the level of excitement on both sides."
The presence of Ravens fans in New England was obvious to the people in Harford County watching on television and to the fans in the stadium.
"One section in the corner, across the way, all you could see was purple. And you could hear the Ravens 'oh, oh oh oh ohhhh," Crone said.
And at the end of the game, with five minutes left and it was obvious the Ravens were going to win, everyone in purple went down to the first level, "where it was a sea of purple," she said. "Ray Rice was rolling across the field, [Terrell] Suggs came up and thanked all the fans...it was a great experience."
Jaime Hoback, a Havre de Grace resident who teaches at Meadowvale Elementary, said the experience at Sunday's game was hard to explain.
"We were overlooked again. We weren't given to chance to win," Hoback said. "But we left Foxboro with a win."
"After witnessing last year's AFC Championship game and leaving the stadium with a horribly bad taste in my mouth, this year it was nice to celebrate with the team and to experience first-hand that redemption in winning this year's AFC Champ game," Hoback said.
Beczkowski was at last year's AFC Championship game, too,
"It was a blast. It was absolutely beyond my expectations," he said of Sunday's experience. "Since the Ravens came here, I'd always dreamed of going to an AFC Championship game and the Ravens would win and go to the Super Bowl."
He didn't go to Oakland in 2000, but went last year and was "disappointed with the results," a Ravens loss.
"Everyone thought they had a really good chance to do it this year," Beczkowski said. "It's part of the adventure and creating good memories."
Being at the game, he said, is a whole different experience than watching at home.
"You get excited watching road games at home, but that level increases by about 300 percent being at a game. There's a great vibe you can't replicate in your basement," he said. "Tailgating, smells, meeting new people – there's such an art and beauty of process of going to the game, which makes it so much more enjoyable to watch it in person."
Schwartz, who went to Sunday's game with his sisters, Laurie and Karin, 1988 and 1990 Fallston High graduates, and their husbands – both Patriots fans – said the last three Ravens games have been "the most emotional Ravens games in the history of the team." The Ravens have beaten the Indianapolis Colts, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, he noted, and "they keep knocking them down one after the other."
Lots of fans are superstitious, including Schwartz. With close relatives who are former members of the Colts Marching Band (his grandfather was a founding member) his family has a piece of the goal post padding from "The Greatest Game Ever Played," the Colts vs. Giants in 1958. Schwartz took a small piece of that padding and carried it with him in his pocket to New England. It will stay in his pocket right up to the Super Bowl.
"We hope to finish off this ride and see if Ravens Nation can win a Super Bowl and send Ray Lewis and Ed Reed to Canton with a Super Bowl ring," he said.