They called themselves the faithful, and minutes from the end deliverance seemed to beckon, but San Francisco fans finished the night drained and defeated, denied a miracle.
The 49ers had come from behind to win their fifth superbowl, in 1994, and the fans packed into bars and homes and across the bay area on Sunday willed their team to do it again, and become arguably the greatest team in NFL history.
It was not to be. "Oh man. When I watch them at home we win. I shouldn't have come out to watch them, it was a mistake," said Roland Urbina, 55, wondering if he had jinxed the city's hopes by attending a street party in the Mission district. "Not to be superstitious but.." his voice trailed off.
Urbina's aunt, Oralia loForti, who will turn 100 in August, sat in a wheelchair, half-blind but eyes fixed on the screens which had been set up on the sidewalk. As Urbina gave her play by play updates, and her beloved 49ers' defeat loomed ever closer, she shook her head. "Ay, muy mal, muy mal."
San Francisco's storming comeback after the power outage in New Orleans restored hope, for a time. Couples salsa danced in the street and fireworks exploded overhead. "We can do it. I know we can do it," said Moses Ramirez, 43, a construction worker, staring at the screen, willing the redshirts to break through the white phalanx.
Sandy Cuadra, a city worker who helped organise the street fiesta, strived to find a bright side as the 49ers flailed and the clock ran down. "We're losing and we may not be celebrating tonight. But hey, there are people here eating my food, watching my TV, being a community, and that's the way it should be."
Police on motorcycles cruised past, part of a city-wide show of force to deter the mayhem which erupted after the Giants won the World Series last October. The mayor, Edwin Lee, had suggested bars limit hard liquor but across the Mission district and downtown there was little sign of rationing: tequila, whisky and vodka chased beers.
For much of the afternoon San Francisco's streets were deserted as the city communed indoors, hoping to add the NFL crown to its baseball glory. As the Ravens' raced to a wide lead some 49-er fans slunk out of bars, desolate, considering defeat inevitable, and shuffled down Mission street.
Minutes later whoops and screams alerted them of the comeback, and the possibility of a miracle. The doubters piled back in and joined the chants. "Let's go Niners!"
New Orleans was deaf. The Ravens held a narrowing lead, minutes turned to seconds, the whistle sounded, and for the first time San Francisco knew what it was like to lose a superbowl.
The mayor tried to strike a cheerful note, congratulating the 49ers for a "spectacular performance". He added: "The entire team demonstrated what you can accomplish with enough perseverance and teamwork."
Police reported sporadic outbreaks of bottle-throwing rowdiness but in the immediate aftermath of the game most of the city remained calm, sombre and depressed.
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