Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
The Baltimore Ravens estimated that around 30,000 fans would come down to M&T Bank Stadium in addition to coming downtown to City Hall and line the parade route for their Super Bowl victory celebration.
They were wrong. Very wrong.
An estimated 200,000 delirious fans showed up in the city, including well over 70,000 alone at the stadium, packing virtually every seat in the entire stadium, as well as much of the playing field not cordoned off for the players and dignitaries in front of the stage.
The turnout blew away owner Steve Bisciotti, head coach John Harbaugh and the players, who seemed to be no different than the fans as they wee videotaping it all with their cell phones and video cameras.
The area around City Hall was jam-packed, and the Ravens were bussed down there for what seemed like only a few minutes before boarding military vehicles and floats for a short parade through the streets to M&T Bank Stadium, where the growing throng of fans forced the Fire Marshal to declare the place at full capacity and order the gates closed to any more fans.
That didn't stop many fans, who did whatever they could to be a part of the scene, as they were seen climbing up and over the gates and into the stadium.
All along the parade route, the police had set up barriers to protect the players and fans for their own safety, but when Ray Lewis' vehicle came by, which was last in the long line of players, the fans said, "to heck with it," and overflowed the barriers to surround him and escort him the rest of the way to the stadium.
Once inside, the introductions were made, including Ray Lewis final entrance and "Dirty Squirrel" dance, the speeches short and the fans cheering and chanting the unofficial 'War Chant' of The White Stripes' 'Seven Nation Army' over and over.
No one expected this turnout, proving the love affair between the city, its fans and the team is as strong as any in the NFL, for which the entire Ravens organization should be proud for bringing the Lombardi Trophy home to Bltimore for the second time in the Ravens 17 year history.
Great job, Baltimore!