There was so much purple. Purple flags, hats, jerseys, and painted faces and nails. What’s more, there was a big supply of hope before Sunday’s sold-out AFC championship game between the Ravens and the Kansas City Chiefs.
By 10 a.m., there was gridlock getting into the city from every direction, and by noon there were lines at the bars in neighborhoods around M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens Walk between the football stadium and Oriole Park at Camden Yards was mobbed with people going to the game and others just wanting to be there, despite a steady drizzle and temperatures in the 40s.
“It’s a beautiful Sunday,” said Tamra Perkins, a lifelong Baltimorean who brought her 7-year-old son, Ryan, to see the Marching Ravens band ahead of the game. “Lamar [Jackson] will be our sunshine.”
It was a moment almost the whole town wanted the same thing: one more win.
Fans partied in the parking lots, and one guy stomped a Chiefs jersey. Season ticket holder Matt Tor danced with friends in a muddy stretch; he had given his ticket to his mother. Colleen Golden brought her son Charlie, 4, and daughter Caroline, 2, to the stadium so they’d know what it meant to be part of The Flock.
The hope was palpable into halftime, even with the team down by 10 points.
But, as the game stretched on with no relief, the finger-pointing by fans began — at the refs, that boyfriend of Taylor Swift and even Lamar.
“The defense was there,” said Dan Choi of Sykesville, who came to the game with his wife, Kelly, and was searching for something positive.
Watching the game on a giant screen outside M&T, most in the crowd stood by their quarterback. Another fan, Sunny Dukes, said he still should be the league MVP.
Others even taunted those who began streaming out of the stadium with minutes to go: “There’s still time” and “now we score.”
Whitney Taylor, a season ticket holder, watched the whole game outside the stadium because she and fellow fan Richard Bless could get only one playoff ticket. She was proud of her team, she said, “win or lose.” They will be back next year.
Amid the clear mistakes — the end zone fumble and interception in the fourth quarter — there was heartbreak forming. Wanting it just might not be enough this year.
Three points in the fourth quarter fueled hope. But, in the end, it wasn’t the Ravens’ year to go all the way.
That’s OK, said Chad Lance, a University of Maryland Eastern Shore student decked out in gemstones and Ravens garb.
“You’re not going to win the Super Bowl every year. If they did, it wouldn’t be so precious,” he said.
“But we were a part of the story this year, and how many other teams were home or wherever you go when you’re not still part of it?” he said. “They made it to the AFC championship game, and that’s success.”