Vicki Antal, of Bel Air, watched the Baltimore Ravens-Pittsburgh Steelers playoff game intently Saturday night, with the thought in the back of her mind that, if the Ravens lost, she might not hear the end of it the next day from her friends who are Steelers fans.
"It's hard to watch, because you know if they lose to the Steelers, it's going to be hard in the morning," Antal said as she and her fellow purple-clad Ravens fans at MaGerk's Pub and Grill in Bel Air watched their team battle to maintain its lead over Pittsburgh in the second half of the wild card NFL playoff game.
It is unlikely that Antal faced the "all kinds of trash talk" she feared would be coming her way Sunday, however, as the Ravens defeated the Steelers 30-17 in front of a crowd of more than 62,000 fans at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.
"They're very excited," Antal said of her fellow Ravens fans. "[It's] very positive, very uplifting."
The Ravens will face the No. 1-seed New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., next Saturday during the AFC divisional playoff round.
The Ravens snatched the AFC conference title from the Patriots in 2013 on their road to a Super Bowl win that year.
MaGerk's and the four other popular game watching spots in downtown Bel Air were mostly filled with Ravens fans wearing purple, white and black cheering for their team Saturday night. Some scattered Steelers fans, dressed in white, black and gold, could be found among the Bel Air Ravens faithful.
"It's been like this all evening," MaGerk's general manager Melissa Eppard said of the football fans who were cheering, drinking and eating as they watched the game on multiple television screens. "People are having a great time, it's awesome."
Ravens fan Tim Geddes, of Abingdon, reflected on the historic Baltimore-Pittsburgh rivalry while standing outside the Main Street Tower Restaurant and Lounge.
"This is Ravens vs. Steelers," he said. "This is what Baltimore's built on. I don't even look at it as a playoff game."
A few Steelers fans, including some who were born and raised in Maryland, said they were treated well by the Ravens fans who outnumbered them in the bars, despite the rivalry.
Tim McInnes, a native of Baltimore who lives in Abingdon, stood outside Looney's Pub. He wore a Steelers jersey while hanging out with Ravens fans outside the pub and restaurant.
"I haven't had any trouble," he said.
He was hanging out with Chris Koch, of Bel Air, a Ravens fan. Koch, the co-owner of Bird's Nest BBQ in Bel Air, said he treated Steelers fans well, since he expects to be treated well when wearing Ravens gear in a Pittsburgh establishment.
"It's just a game," he said.
Inside Looney's North, Mike Crujeiras, of Abingdon, wore a bright red Ravens jersey bearing the name of quarterback Joe Flacco. His younger sister Victoria, also of Abingdon, wore a Steelers jersey.
"My best friend is from Pittsburgh," Victoria explained.
Mike teased his sister about her loyalty to the Steel City team, and he stressed his loyalty to Charm City.
"I was born and raised in Maryland," he said. "You've got to represent our state."
Fans of both teams watched as the players battled to get the ball down the field, and Ravens fans became frustrated as their team made mistakes during the first half.
Brad Wieber, of Bel Air, who was watching with his fiance Jessica Dittman, of Bel Air, at the Main Street Oyster House, called the style of play "smash mouth football."
"It's a tough game," she said. "You have to fight for every yard."
Fans in Sean Bolan's Irish Pub & Restaurant roared as the Ravens scored a touchdown in the second half and widened their lead.
Carl "Dr. Blasphemy" Murray, of Red Lion, Pennsylvania, a radio disc jockey and professional wrestling commentator, was among them.
"It looked like we were going to get squashed, but now Joe [Flacco] and the Ravens are coming back with what we used to call 'Orioles Magic,' " said Murray, who grew up in Essex and has been a DJ for 98 Rock in Baltimore.
He said the Ravens' action "now just seems to be a Baltimore magical sporting moment."