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Giants, Patriots fans anxiously watch rematch

Weeks before the start of the NFL season, a small group of New York Giants fans approached the new owner of the Canton bar the Americana: Could they make it their hangout?

Owner Alex van Breukelen is a Long Island native and the son of a man devoted to the Giants. His answer: Sure.

And so on Super Bowl Sunday, a group of fans that had been growing throughout the season descended on the two-story bar festooned with balloons in the Giants' blue and white.

"This was like a lottery hit for Alex," said Michael Kerilla, one of the fans who had approached van Breukelen last summer.

Van Breukelen, surveying the sea of blue jerseys at the bar, agreed. "It's frankly awesome," he said.

The Ravens were shut out of the Super Bowl after losing to New England last month. But for other East Coast fans, Sunday's matchup was a chance to settle an old score or add to a legacy.

The last time the Giants faced the Patriots in the Super Bowl was four years ago. Not only did the Giants defeat the Patriots 17-14, but the New York team also spoiled New England's unblemished record that season.

Sunday night, fans of each team were looking for an advantage.

"The Patriots definitely have the revenge factor on their side, but we have momentum on our side," said Jason Dowell, 29, a Maryland native and Giants fan since he was 8.

Dowell, wearing quarterback Eli Manning's jersey, said he wished the Ravens had beaten the Patriots last month and been the Giants' opponent Sunday night.

"They beat us in the Super Bowl 11 years ago," he said. "I always wanted another shot at the Ravens in the Super Bowl."

Laura DiScala, 24, painted a red NY on her cheek and brought cupcakes decorated with blue sprinkles to the bar. The Connecticut native is a Giants fan, but admitted she would have rooted some for the Ravens had they made the Super Bowl.

"The atmosphere here is so Ravens," in Baltimore, she said. "You have to be a Ravens fan down here."

Across town at Don't Know Tavern in Federal Hill, Patriots fans appeared confident, although they hadn't forgotten what happened last time.

"It will be a close game. It will probably come down to a field goal," said Mike Fried, 29, a Massachusetts native living in Baltimore County with his wife, a Ravens fan. "But regardless, we are going to win."

"We're due a little revenge for the 2007 Super Bowl and they beat us earlier in the season," said Tanner Otis, who was also celebrating his 25th birthday. "We will be coming with a chip on our shoulder. It is a motivating factor."

But some say it isn't just payback that is motivating the Patriots. Myra Hiatt Kraft, the wife of the team's owner Robert Kraft, died last year and the players wear her initials on their uniforms.

"The players are dedicated to winning the Super Bowl in her memory," said Kevin Otis, Tanner's father, visiting from Maine.

The 53-year-old Otis said the word in Boston is that Mrs. Kraft is doing what she can from above to help. They say she was present last month when Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff sent a key, attempted field goal wide left in the Ravens' loss to the Patriots in the AFC Championship game.

"There are a lot of people who talk," Otis said, "about the fact that … Cundiff's kick went wide because she threw a little air when he kicked."

eileen.ambrose@baltsun.com

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