There were hardly any idle hands in a local bar as the Baltimore Ravens beat the Houston Texans 34-10 in their playoff game at M&T Bank Stadium on Saturday, sealing their spot in the AFC championship.
Those who dodged the less-than-30-degree temperature and settled in Luckie’s Tavern, a bar tucked away in Power Plant Live!, clapped as their team advanced to a level unseen since the 2012 season.
Greeted by a DJ spinning the sounds of Drake, Chris Brown and DMX, fans shared how the Ravens are finally flexing their full potential. Several are especially impressed with quarterback Lamar Jackson and his performance throughout the entire season.
“Finally, the curse is broken,” said James Young IV, a lifelong Ravens fan from West Baltimore.
Young spent most of the night dancing in front of the large projection screen showing the game and celebrating even more each time the Ravens scored a touchdown. Not only did Luckie’s Tavern have a special game day menu featuring a “Mother Tucker Hurricane,” wings and nachos, but it promised to give every customer a free shot each time the Ravens scored a touchdown.
For Young, the second half specifically showed what the Ravens are capable of. He said they’ve always had grit and the week off before Saturday’s game was a good time for them to get back into rhythm. Going forward, Young said, he wants the Ravens to remember that “it’s not a fantasy or a fairy tale” and they need to keep playing like a win is at stake.
Young and others opted against going to the home game at M&T Bank Stadium because of prices and the cold. But that wasn’t the sentiment all around. Areas such as Federal Hill were a sea of purple before the game started, with lines wrapped around blocks of certain bars.
Saturday’s win means a group of Johns Hopkins University graduate students studying public health can continue their tradition of watching the games together. Erin Broas, Iyabo Awogboro, Lexi Lightner and Diya Jhuti started getting into the Ravens in November and are looking forward to the rest of their season.
By halftime, the Ravens and Texans were tied 10-10, but they were still hopeful they’d pull through. In fact, it was “complete and utter confidence,” Awogboro said, with no credit given to the liquid courage from the four free shots the bar ultimately had to give away to visitors. Big fans of Jackson and wide receiver Zay Flowers, the group’s used the Ravens games to bond as transplants from New Jersey, Washington and Canada.
Nick Papale, a Ravens fan since he “came out of the womb,” thinks Jackson is going to deliver on his promise of giving Baltimore a Super Bowl win. For him, “it’s been too damn long,” since the Ravens made it to an AFC championship. Papale was nervous the whole first half of the game. Steven Sims’ 67-yard punt return touchdown for the Texans was no help.
A friend in his group, Sal Cuffari, was also a little skeptical because the Ravens tend to “play down to the level” of their opponents at their own expense, he said. Nonetheless, the Ravens were aggressive and didn’t let the pressure get to them, Papale said.
“I think a lot of people doubted us and we rose above that easily,” he added.
Papale’s other buddy, Michael Gentry, couldn’t think of a better season to move to Baltimore and watch the games as a local. Though he moved from North Carolina for a job, something tells him it was also to become a diehard Ravens fan. He said Jackson was passing well in Saturday’s game and he’s digging the quarterback’s confidence on the field.
Several Ravens fans lingered in the bar after the win and partook in karaoke filled with a bit more cheer than when they first strolled in.
Awogboro didn’t need a karaoke mic to leave the Ravens with a few parting words: “You worked for this. You earned this, and we got complete confidence in you.”