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Titans’ fans let out collective groan; still proud of team

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Posted: Monday January 31, 2000 12:13 AM

  Deaver Corzine Titans fans in both Nashville and Atlanta went all out to show their support for their team. AP

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Fans moaned "No!" in unison Sunday as they watched the Tennessee Titans fall one yard short of a Super Bowl victory.

About 2,300 stunned fans at the Wildhorse Saloon watched the clock run out with the St. Louis Rams the winners at 23-16.

Despite the loss, fans mirrored their cohorts at the Georgia Dome in a standing ovation, surrounded by confetti thrown only minutes before when it seemed the Titans might win.

"It was a real letdown," said Debbie Pettigrew of Nashville, who painted her face blue with a white "T" for Titan for the game. "Another 10 seconds and we probably could have done it."

Sunday was the first time she had ever painted her face for a game, Pettigrew said.

"It will be the last time," she said after the loss.

Cannons shot confetti each times the Titans scored and the dance floor was packed with fans in Titans jerseys. Others wore bright red wigs, mimicking the so-called "Flame Pit" in Adelphia Coliseum.

"We got so high and we got so low," said Sheila Crisp.

A parade to welcome home the Titans will take place in Nashville on Tuesday, ending at Adelphia Coliseum.

With or without Super Bowl tickets, many Titans fans ventured across the Smokies to be in Atlanta for the game. Those at the Wildhorse Saloon said watching the game there amid a throng of jersey-clad fans was as close as they could get.

Some lined up in freezing temperatures at 8:30 a.m. -- two and a half hours before the doors opened -- to watch the game on a movie screen at the club best known for its country music dance show on television.

After the Super Bowl, police kept traffic off Second Avenue to prevent a repeat of the week before, when honking cars cruised past boisterous sidewalk celebrants in a spontaneous street party to celebrate the Titans AFC Championship victory.

Some cars still honked, and some fans still screamed, but others simply drifted back to their cars or stopped for dinner at nearby restaurants in a much-less jubilant mood than the week before.

Elsewhere, police were out in force patrolling for drunk drivers.

The loss seals a bet between radio stations in the rival cities. The Grand Ole Opry has promised to host a St. Louis blues musician on its stage after the Rams' victory. If Nashville won, Opry musician Bill Anderson would have performed on St. Louis' WIL-FM.

The team with a new name in a new city quickly made Nashville into Titans Town this season, building up a fan base at home as they stacked up wins.

After playing in three different stadiums in three cities for the three years, the team had yet to win over Nashvillians when they moved into Adelphia Coliseum in the fall.

Interlopers from Houston who still called themselves the Oilers until last spring, the Titans had gotten used to playing to so-so crowds in temporary quarters -- first in Memphis, then at Vanderbilt Stadium.

But spurred on by a string of often improbable victories by a team that refused to quit, Nashvillians known for their love affair with college football suddenly fell for the new home team.

Sunday seemed like it might turn into another surprise victory until the final seconds.

Still, fans refused be entirely disappointed.

"It's been a great run," said Trace Starr of Nashville. "I'm still proud."

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