BALTIMORE - It wasn't long into the Super Bowl's second half that Baltimore Ravens fans began seeing visions of the Vince Lombardi Trophy returning to Charm City.
And then the lights went off in New Orleans, and the hardware suddenly seemed poised to slip away to San Francisco. But for the Ravens faithful, who had waited more than a decade for the franchise's second glimpse of gridiron glory, the end of the game brought joy and relief.
"I'm just so happy and so pleased that they won," Mary Ellen Krysiak said. "It got more interesting when the power went out, but the Ravens did a great job. The game was really, really interesting, and I know everyone is overwhelmed."
The euphoria that swept over Ravens fans as the game ended had been building since early in the day.
"We had to get here at 11 a.m. just to get to get a parking spot," Jonathan Lankford said he stood outside a bar in southeast Baltimore around mid-afternoon, cars clogged along the curbs of every street for a half-dozen blocks.
It was, he said, a small sacrifice to be among the revelers at one of the city's premier places to watch Ravens games. "It's a lot of good looking girls, a lot of people, no parking spots available, lots of beer and lots of people getting drunk," Lankford said. "But there's also nice people, lots of nice people. It's like a community out here, and everyone's supporting the team."
Lawrence Robinson could be spotted a mile away boosting his team.
"I didn't want to do jeans, so I decided to throw on all-purple fatigues and stroll around the town of Baltimore and show my Raven pride," said the Owings Mills resident as he adjusted his purple hat. "I'm excited on so many different levels. It's a long time coming."
And as Baltimore's watering holes -- many of them decked out with enormous balloons and other Ravens paraphernalia -- filled quickly, Robinson said he showed up hours ahead of kickoff to embrace the entirety of Super Bowl Sunday.
"Even though the game starts in three hours, I felt like I wanted to get down here early just so I could be in on some of the action," he said before heading into the bar where he has regularly watched games for five years. "Time flies so fast. Before you know it, the game is on."
As Baltimore embarked on a night of drinking and celebrating, authorities prepared for trouble: Police blocked streets in Canton, Federal Hill, Fells Point and near Inner Harbor. A police helicopter circled over the city as horses walked around its squares.
But there were few signs of trouble as the drama played out, and the streets were largely quiet.
As the clock ran down on the tense 34-31 victory, fans rushed into the cold chanting the Ravens' famous cheer and turning the roadways into seas of purple as snow flurries fell.