Ravens fans in Harford County did not lose hope Thursday night, even as Denver's lead widened in the second half of the game, to an eventual 49-27 victory on the Broncos' home turf.
Fans filled bars and restaurants in downtown Bel Air, decked out in purple and white Ravens jerseys, bearing the names and numbers of their favorite players.
"Absolutely, we still have a chance," Jack Hudgins of Forest Hill said as he stood with Pete Buckheit of Abingdon and Joe Norris of Bel Air, watching the game at Looney's Pub of Bel Air. "This is the beginning of our journey to another Super Bowl championship, and that's No. 2 for Joe Flacco."
Shavon Worrell of Riverside, who gathered at Looney's with her friends, had purchased a special Ravens shirt at Victoria's Secret before Thursday night's game.
Her shirt was bright purple, with "Ravens" in gold lettering.
Worrell, who has lived in the Baltimore area since 1997, noted Ravens fans' loyalty to their team regardless of the results.
"This is the only place that I've lived where the fans have been so dedicated throughout the years, win or lose," she said.
Worrell also took notice of Ravens fans' tendency to wear purple accouterments to work on game days, no matter where they are employed.
"White-collar jobs, men in business suits, they'll wear their purple ties," she said. "They have actual Ravens ties, Ravens cuff links."
Fans around downtown Bel Air kept the faith, even as wide receiver and returner Jacoby Jones and offensive tackle Michael Oher were taken out with injuries, and Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning made seven touchdown passes, a career high for him that also tied an NFL single game record.
"I thought Denver was going to be more aggressive, but they've really come out fighting," Phil Hosmer of Bel Air said at halftime, while sitting in MaGerk's Pub and Grill with his friend, Brian Etzel of Timonium.
Etzel was more cautious.
"This game's going down to the wire," he said. Not exactly, as it turned out.
Hosmer reflected on the crowd at MaGerk's.
"The atmosphere in here has been great," he said. "People have been so into it, people have been so loud all night."
Melissa Whitacre of White Hall, her father, Mike, of Jarrettsville, and Bill Chmielewski of Fork celebrated at the bar in the Main Street Tower Restaurant and Lounge after the Ravens scored a touchdown to go ahead 13-7 in the first half.
"They look really good, considering they lost so many senior players," Melissa Whitacre said referring to the departure of stars such as Ed Reed and Anquan Boldin to competing NFL teams after the Ravens' Super Bowl victory in February, and the retirement of Ray Lewis after the 2012 season.
Mike Whitacre said fans cannot judge the entire season based on the team's performance in the opening game.
"What matters is how well the coaching staff can put together a team," he explained.
Whitacre called owner Steve Bisciotti "the greatest part" of the team.
"He allows the coaches to put the team together," Whitacre said. "He doesn't micromanage."
While the majority of patrons at the Dark Horse Saloon were decked out in purple, Abingdon resident Adam Bauer went against the grain with a bright blue New York Giants jersey, bearing the name and number of their quarterback, Eli Manning, Peyton's brother.
"I could be the guy who's not wearing a football jersey, or the guy who's wearing the wrong football jersey," he explained. "I chose the latter."
He said he is a "big fan" of Manning, but still rooted for the Ravens.
"I root for them, too," he said. "They're my second favorite."
Teddy Spruell of Edgewood and Will Thompson of Aberdeen wore bright yellow T-shirts, marking them as security guards at the Dark Horse.
Spruell said he would wear "a purple security shirt" if it was available.
He was excited about the first-quarter action.
"It's pretty awesome," he said. "They're winning 7-0, playing well."
Thompson echoed the hopes of Ravens fans as the 2013 season got under way.
"I think everybody's excited about the Ravens possibly making another run for the Super Bowl," he said.
Still 15 games to go.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun