It wasn’t until the final moments of the game that the mood throughout Boston Sunday night turned from grim to ecstatic. As the New England Patriots made the greatest comeback in the history of the Super Bowl, fans said their faith in Tom Brady had remained boundless.
Only a few minutes before the fourth quarter ended, fans throughout the city were watching the game with their hands covering their mouths. At one point, the Atlanta Falcons were up an astonishing 21-0.
But when the Patriots converted one play after another in Houston, evening the score and ultimately winning the Super Bowl’s first overtime contest, there was little doubt in the minds of fans across the city that they had witnessed the prowess of one of the greatest football teams in NFL history.
At Blazing Paddles bar in the Fenway, fans leapt and screamed with joy as James White crossed into the end zone to finish off the Falcons. A bartender sprayed water into the air in celebration. Soon, the fans were gyrating and singing along to the DJ Khaled song, “All I Do Is Win.”
“I can’t wait to see Roger Goodell hand us that trophy,” shouted Haley Doucette, 21. “Victory never has felt so good.”
Outside the nearby Cask ’n Flagon, fans chanted “Let’s go, Brady!” and “USA! USA!” They also led a profane chant opposing President Trump, while others lifted friends to their shoulders and bounced them up and down.
Police from Boston and other nearby departments observed the crowd, but no violence was apparent. Many officers joked and laughed with the fans. One approached a man openly carrying a beer bottle on Brookline Avenue, snatching it from him.
At 11 p.m., Boston police said there had been no arrests as a result of the game.
“A lot of people left after halftime, and that helped a lot,” said Lieutenant Michael McCarthy, a spokesman for the police department.
The city is planning a victory parade for Tuesday at 11 a.m.
At the Fours Restaurant & Sports Bar on Canal Street, there were hugs all around after the game. No one could believe it.
“This isn’t real,” said David Koppel, 27. “This didn’t happen. After Deflategate and all the adversity, for the Super Bowl to end up like this, I couldn’t be happier.”
Jason Besecker, 26, visiting Boston from Philadelphia, admitted he hated the Patriots. He was an Eagles fan, and he wanted the Falcons to win. He said he knew that if he made a snide remark, his friends at the bar would have punched him.
But he had to hand it to the Patriots. “That was easily the best win,” he said of the Patriots’ Super Bowl wins.
Earlier, at the Cask ’n Flagon, where a line of about 50 people stretched around the corner more than an hour before kickoff, pitchers of beer flowed and friends clinked glasses in celebratory toasts. Exuberant fans clad in Patriots gear sang along with familiar tunes. Jerseys and red-white-and-blue knit hats were everywhere, and at least one man had applied eye black to his cheeks.
As the game began, every neck in the bar was craned to see the screens, and eyes were filled with hope and anxiety. Every caught pass and interception provoked a loud response, or a hail of high-fives.
Alex Eliades remained confident after the Falcons scored their first touchdown. After their second, as the clock ticked down to halftime with the Patriots still scoreless, he started to worry.
After Atlanta’s third touchdown, Eliades, 23, of Brookline, began to feel sick. “They look disheartened,” he said of the Patriots seen on screen, “and everybody here looks the same.”
As the Super Bowl entered halftime, fans inside the Cask ’n Flagon looked distraught, but they still clung to hope.
Rich Sullivan, 23, never lost faith that Tom Brady would save the day.
“The greatest quarterback of all time is capable of making the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history,” he said. “If anybody can do it, he can.”
At Blazing Paddles, there was a modest exodus of fans as the third quarter ended with the Patriots still trailing badly.
Pats fan Robert Fox, wearing a Tom Brady jersey, expressed the view of many.
“It’s physically painful to watch,” said Fox, 21, of Pelham, N.H. “I’m afraid it’s going to hurt Brady’s legacy.”
Still, Fox also held out hope that Brady would turn the game around, and it wasn’t long before the crowd erupted with jubilation as the Patriots began their comeback.
“We got hope. We got this!” said Israel Pabon, 25, as he exchanged high-fives with everyone he could reach. “We got Brady — we’re good!”
After the Patriots finally won, hundreds of fans gathered on Boston Common, screaming with euphoria in the frigid night.
“I’m just so excited,” said Aidan Benavides, 18, a student at the Boston Conservatory from New Jersey. “In such a time of darkness, this is so light, so good.”
Emma Fields, 18, a physics student at Suffolk University, added, “New England is the best.”David Abel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @davabel. Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeremycfox. Cristela Guerra can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @CristelaGuerra.