Bel Air cheers the Ravens

Bel Air town commissioners Dave Carey, left, and Rob Reier, second from right, were among the crowd at MaGerk's watching the AFC Championship game Sunday. (The Aegis, Bryna Zumer / January 20, 2013)

The sea of purple jerseys that have slowly been taking over Bel Air the past three weeks turned into a bona fide tidal wave on Sunday, as the Baltimore Ravens beat the New England Patriots, 28-13, to win the AFC Championship and move on to the Super Bowl.

Bars around town were packed to the brim as the Ravens prepared to take on the Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass.

Fans of the football team in Harford, old and new, filled up local pubs well in advance of the official kickoff time at 6:30 p.m. A free parking space was almost impossible to find anywhere near Looney's Pub about an hour before the game.

Inside, the bar crowd was several rows deep, with nearly every inch of space packed with purple clad fans.

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Brandon Pence, a Joppatowne resident, said all the seating was taken when he showed up at Looney's at 2:30 p.m. and the pub was asking those wanting an actual table for a minimum charge of $50. Three hours later, the price was up to $75.

Like most fans who had been following the Baltimore team all season, Pence had high hopes for the Patriots game.

He predicted "the Ravens are going to take it...hopefully we take [Patriots quarterback Tom] Brady out of the game."

What would he do if the Ravens won?

"I would go nuts, scream, holler, everything," he said.

The excitement was especially palpable this time because of Ray Lewis' farewell.

"It's more of an emotional play and more of a hard-hitting game," Pence said.

He knew a lot of people who had not been Ravens fans in the past but turned into ones as this season went on.

Pence, who has had season tickets, was also enjoying the build-up of excitement around Bel Air and all over Harford County.

"Out in public, everyone's wearing purple," he said. "It's just, like, a good old vibe around the town of Baltimore."

Heather Baker, of Bel Air, said one of her friends had driven to Massachusetts for the game.

She was at Looney's with a friend, although she claimed to not know too much about football.

"My boyfriend always says, 'You don't know what you're talking about,'" Baker said, but she was still eager to see the game.

"I think it's going to be close, but I think we can do it," she said of the Ravens' chances. "I am so excited. I hope they win."

With Ray Lewis leading the way, she said, Ravens pride has reached a peak.

"I think Baltimore as a whole, we are all excited," Baker said. "Baltimore always has a lot of pride for the Ravens."