BOSTON (AP) — Patriots fans packed bars and house parties in Boston and across New England on Sunday to watch their team take on the New York Giants in the Super Bowl.
At Game On, a bar near Fenway Park, the crowd got quiet when the Patriots trailed early in the first half, then erupted into dancing, fist-pumping and shouting when they took the lead with a touchdown right before halftime.
"You know Brady," said Frank Monti, a fan from New York City, referring to quarterback Tom. "He's good for fourth-quarter wins. I'm not worried."
Alix Vanval, who flew from Montreal to Boston just to watch the game with fellow Patriots fans, agreed.
"I'm confident because of Brady," she said.
As revelers watched the game in bars, hundreds of officers in riot gear gathered in the streets, focusing on the areas near college campuses and sports bars, where previous celebrations have turned wild.
At McGreevy's 3rd Base Saloon in the city's Back Bay neighborhood, where six large TVs and a framed oval portrait of Coach Bill Belichick hung over the bar, manager Art Santora said he had met with the police and the liquor commission to talk about safety measures. No one was being allowed to line up outside to get into the packed bar — once it was full that was it.
Victor Janczar arrived in plenty of time from Chicopee, in western Massachusetts, because he and his girlfriend wanted to be with other Patriots fans. They're such serious fans that they purposely flew JetBlue on a trip back from California so they could watch the Patriots play San Diego in Week 2 of the NFL season on the seat-back televisions. They predicted a close game Sunday but thought the Patriots would pull it out, 27-24.
"It'll really depend on how well the Patriots' defense can cover New York's receivers," Janczar said.
While most of those in the bar were Patriots fans, a few Giants fans did sneak into enemy territory.
"Everybody in Boston is being a sweetheart," said John Stickles, who came from New Haven, Conn., to watch the game wearing a No. 80 Victor Cruz jersey.
Dave Anderson, who was visiting from Denver and declared himself a Patriots fan for the weekend, joined a standing room crowd at McGreevys. Across the street, the top of the Prudential Center was lit up in the Patriots colors of red, white and blue.
"You can tell that there are no fair weather fans in Boston," Anderson said.
City officials said they would step up patrols and video monitoring near Kenmore Square and North Station, areas where fans often congregate. Access to those areas was being restricted after the third quarter to discourage large crowds near bars and restaurants.
Police Commissioner Edward Davis warned the city's large population of college students that surveillance cameras would record any criminal behavior and that those images would be used to lodge criminal complaints.
"Be very careful. Don't do the things that will get you into trouble," Davis said during a news conference earlier in the week at City Hall.
Officials have good reason to be cautious — raucous celebrations after past wins by the region's teams have led to tragedies.
In February 2004, 21-year-old James Grabowski was killed during a Patriots Super Bowl victory celebration when a drunken driver plowed into a crowd of revelers who had gathered in the streets.
In October of that year, a 21-year-old Emerson College student celebrating the Boston Red Sox American League Championship Series victory over the New York Yankees was killed when she was struck in the eye by a pepper pellet fired by Boston police during crowd-control efforts. An independent commission found that Victoria Snelgrove's death was an avoidable tragedy caused by poor police planning and "serious errors in judgment." Several police officers were suspended, demoted or reprimanded.
In June 2008, a Celtics fan stopped breathing and later died after police took him into custody during street celebrations shortly after Boston clinched the 2008 NBA championship. David Woodman, 22, died at a hospital 11 days after police arrested him on a public drinking charge. Witnesses said Woodman, an Emmanuel College student, was slammed to the ground by police. His parents said the rough treatment caused cardiac arrhythmia and brain damage.
An independent analysis concluded that the death was not caused by police but by a pre-existing heart condition that police had no way of knowing about. The city agreed to a $3 million settlement with Woodman's parents.
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