PITTSBURGH – Patrons at Peters' Pub and other bars near the University of Pittsburgh campus mostly walked out quietly after the Super Bowl game, although some could be heard cursing the Steelers fate that they lost Sunday to the Green Bay Packers.
In the campus' Oakland neighborhood at least, the crowds appeared well behaved and there were no confrontations with the police as fans and students walked back to their dormitories and apartments.
Police were out in full-force in Pittsburgh to prevent the recurrence of rioting and fire setting that broke out after the Pittsburgh Steelers' Super Bowl win over the Arizona Cardinals two years ago.
Sunday night's loss apparently took most of the steam out of the crowd. Police reopened barricaded sections of the campus neighborhood, where they had posted hundreds of officers, about an hour after the game. Police had assigned an additional 400 officers to prevent the mayhem that broke out in 2009, when the crowds set fires, overturned cars, and about 100 arrests were made.
"It's pretty calm," police spokeswoman Diane Richard said after the game Sunday. "Maybe we're taking our loss respectfully. Everybody's acting responsibly and, hopefully, they'll just all go home now."
Police near the Pitt campus were grouped at most major intersections, wearing riot gear. Several fans made small talk with the officers. Some gave them high fives and others posed for pictures. The same scenario was played out along in the city's South Side, a neighborhood with the heaviest concentrations of taverns. Police had tactical vehicles and other equipment.
The Super Bowl loss capped a season in which the Steelers dealt with several injuries and one large distraction that being the four-game suspension served by Ben Rothlisberger to start the season as the result of sexual assault allegations. Many fans were hoping that a victory would complete a redemption story for him but it was not to be.
"Big Ben's road to redemption is gone. It would have been so great to see him win a Super Bowl," said Natalie Bigley, 22, a Pitt student at Peters' Pub.
She sat at a table with two girlfriends, who were also disappointed but not crushed by the game's outcome. This was the first brush with Steelermania for her friend Danielle Prima.
"I'm from New Jersey but I've become a really faithful Steelers' fan and I'm just really sad that they lost," said Prima. "They're a huge part of the culture in this area."
One patron at the college bar was celebrating the victory quietly. Ed Paiewonsky, 22, a Pitt senior from Stroudsburg, Pa., wore an Aaron Rodgers jersey but was careful not to gloat. "I'm ecstatic. I've been a Packers fan for my entire life. I root for the Steelers everywhere unless they play the Packers," he said.
He traded hugs with several Steelers fans, and no one was seen harassing him after the win.
Two officers in riot gear said they were sorry to see the team lose but confessed that the team might have done a better job of controlling the crowd than they could have if things had gotten dicey.