"Right now," Dolcine told a reporter, "we're multi-tasking — watching the game and listening to the radio."

Dolcine said there was a good reason he wasn't watching the game at the Northeastern District police station on Argonne Drive. "The TV doesn't work," he said. Besides, he said, the fire station left him and fellow officers well-positioned to respond to any emergency calls in that part of the district.

Dolcine's evening shift began at kickoff, though he didn't necessarily expect the streets to remain quiet all night. "When the game is on, everyone is calm and situated," he said. Based on past experience, he added, that could change when people head outside, emotions running high.

One firefighter said by halftime, there had only been two or three ambulance calls. He joked to the assembled police officers that if they wanted a spot in one of the recliners, "all you gotta do is call in a fire somewhere."

City streets were largely desolate during the game. But a glance into windows often revealed the flicker of a television. That was true in high-end Harbor East at the bar of Roy's Hawaiian restaurant. That's where friends Noah Turner and Eric Nielsen were watching the game.

The two started the afternoon at Portside Tavern in Canton. By 1:30 it was already standing room only, and they got tired of standing. Though they live in Washington and aren't huge Ravens fans, both were pulling for the team.

They munched on calamari and sipped cocktails while keeping careful watch over the flat-screen on the wall. "The fact it's a close game against a team that's been firing on all cylinders is pretty incredible," Nielsen said during the third quarter, with New England ahead by a few points.

Ipsita Das and Shawn Kumra had the same idea, combining dinner with the game at Roy's.

Kumra, a 32-year-old dentist from Washington, said he had "converted" to the Ravens after years of Washington Redskins futility. Das, by contrast, is a devoted Ravens fan. A 34-year-old health care consultant who lives in White Marsh, she was wearing her Ray Lewis jersey as proof.

The two had seats at M&T Bank Stadium for the Ravens win over the Houston Texans. They decided on Roy's for the AFC championship because they like the food and wanted to enjoy the game without having to fight for elbow room.

Not that they weren't excited.

"Fumble!" Kumra bellowed when the Ravens recovered a loose ball.

A few feet from the bar, three valet-parking attendants could only steal glimpses of the game through a window.

"I'm not even allowed to watch it here," said Hamadi Dicko, 30, an immigrant from the West African country of Mali. But he said he had checked out the bar television through the glass. "I know my boss would do the same thing," he added with a laugh.

Another parking attendant, Tesfaye Bati, went one step further. The 30-year-old from Ethiopia watched a reflection of the game in the front window so he could literally keep an eye out for cars.

There weren't many cars to park. The restaurant had only a handful of tables, making it much slower than a typical Sunday.

Then a couple pulled up in a Mini Cooper, and all three attendants raced outside. One got in the driver's seat, another gave the driver a valet ticket and the third held open the door.

"Aloha, how are you doing today?" Dicko greeted the two patrons as they walked into the restaurant. Then he looked at the TV just in time to see the Patriots score a touchdown.

"Oh, my God," he said. "That's too bad."

Back at Our Daily Bread, Howell and his fellow residents were still entranced by the game midway through the fourth quarter, leaping to their feet when the Ravens made an acrobatic interception in the end zone.

"My God, yeah!" shouted Johnson, the program assistant. "I'm loving it."

Moments later, as the Ravens tried to move down the field, someone in the room said he might need blood pressure medication to handle the stress.

Then came an incomplete pass that would have given the Ravens a touchdown, followed soon after by Cundiff's agonizing missed field goal.

As others drifted away, Howell stood in place, staring — glaring — at the TV. The kick should have been automatic, he said. He was angry and disappointed.

But Ronnie Hyser, sporting a hand tattoo bearing the phrase "Pain is love," had already moved into philosophical mode.

"Better luck next year," he said with a thin smile. "We still love 'em."


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