The packed crowd in the bar area of The Corner Stable let out a collective cheer when Ravens cornerback Cary Williams intercepted Tom Brady in the closing minutes of the AFC Championship game on Sunday night to seal the 28-13 victory over the Patriots.
Two hours before kickoff, there was little doubt from Ravens fans at the Columbia restaurant/bar that the night would end with Baltimore locking up a trip to the Super Bowl in New Orleans in two weeks.
“I think we play well against New England because we match up very well with them,” said Don Angeletti of Elkridge. “As long as we don’t turn the ball over, we’ll win. I think that’s the big key. We can’t turn the ball over.”
Angeletti’s wife, Kathy, believed that Patriots didn’t stand a chance because of one man.
“I think there is going to be a lot of momentum because of Ray Lewis,” she said. “The Ravens will have a little bit of an edge because they want him to go out on a high note.”
Thoughts of Baltimore wide receiver Lee Evans dropping what would have been the game-winning score last season against the Patriots, and kicker Billy Cundiff’s missed field goal in the closing seconds of last season’s AFC Championship game didn’t seem to enter John Trump’s mind.
“It’s not like Cundiff is still on the team,” said Trump, a Baltimore native. “There is different personnel and they showed last week that they were able to come-from-behind against a team that was highly favored.”
Columbia’s Neil Quinter didn't acknowledge last season’s loss to the Patriots and knew revenge was in order.
“I felt pretty confident coming into the game but you can’t take anything for granted,” Quinter said. “I felt like we really won the game last year and then we beat them in the regular season (this year), so I felt pretty good.”
Quinter wouldn’t say the Ravens now own the Patriots.
“Saying that might be going a bit too far, but we’ve beaten them three times in a row as far as I’m concerned.”
Even with the Ravens trailing, 13-7, at halftime, The Corner Stable crowd remained upbeat with anticipation.
Bartender Chris Basso of Columbia said the atmosphere was electric from start to finish.
“It’s always a great vibe in here,” Basso said. “I can’t really watch the game since I’m working. It’s hard for me to see what’s going on, so I just go off the atmosphere. This was a fun time. It was busy but hopefully it will be even busier in two weeks.”
Behind quarterback Joe Flacco, the Ravens dominated the second half, scoring 21 unanswered points – much to the surprise of Don Angeletti.
“I’m surprised at how low the final score is,” he said. “I expected a lot of scoring by both teams. I fully expected it to be 41-38. Holding the Patriots to 13 points is shocking.”
Ravens' season ticket holder Daniel Harth was still on a high from the Ravens’ shocking 38-35 win over the Denver Broncos on Jan. 12.
“That was one of the greatest game I’ve ever seen,” said Harth of Columbia. “This game was special too. All of the elements were there with Ray Lewis retiring and getting revenge. This was a lot of fun.”
The stage is now set for Ravens coach John Harbaugh to meet little brother Jim, coach of the NFC champion San Francisco 49ers, in the Super Bowl on Feb. 3. Steve Zelkoski, of Ravens Roost #4 in Ellicott City, is heading down to New Orleans for the big game.
“My dad is 74 years old and we’ve been to every single (home) game together,” Zelkoski said. “All he wanted to do was go to the Super Bowl, so I just called him and told him that we’re going.
“Ravens Roost #4 is a great organization. We do a lot of charity work and those guys are all fired up to go down. We’re going to represent the Ravens well in New Orleans.”