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The roar fell silent

The Baltimore Sun

From the press section in the upper deck of University of Phoenix Stadium the night of Feb. 3, it seemed as if the entire crowd for the Super Bowl was pro-Patriots - and, thus, pro-perfection. Everybody upstairs seemed to be wearing Patriots gear and colors, speaking Patriots accents and waving Patriots signs, most of them bearing "19-0" somewhere.

You couldn't see the field that well from up there, way above the south end zone, but you could hear clearly. As the game wore on, and the designated-victim Giants kept refusing to go away, what you heard more of was silence. Once the Patriots finally took the lead, 14-10, with 2:42 left in the game, though, the roar was back.

Then came the final Giants drive. And, on third down near midfield, Eli Manning disappeared amid a sea of blue defenders, then re-emerged still on his feet. Then the tiny brown ball sailed into the distance, and some Giant - David Tyree? - rose, grabbed, twisted backward, the ball not really in his hands, but definitely not on the ground. Pinned to his helmet. And not budging, even though Rodney Harrison kept trying to budge it.

First-down signal, not incompletion. Everyone sprinting away from us, not back toward the original line of scrimmage. And one clear sound rolling through the pro-Patriots upper deck: Ooooooooh.

Followed by silence that pretty much filled the rest of the game - the Giants' winning touchdown, the Patriots' final gasp, the Lombardi Trophy presentation to the other team.

As the upper deck emptied into the brisk Arizona night, it remained silent. Perfectly silent.

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