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Rams, Titans fans jam CNN Center for classic

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Posted: Sunday January 30, 2000 11:50 PM

  CNN Atrium Rams and Titans fans turn the atrium of the CNN Center in Atlanta into a giant Super Bowl party. Brian Crane/

ATLANTA (AP) -- Alisha Clark heard the roar, but she didn't know how to feel.

The deafening noise came from the atrium at CNN Center in downtown Atlanta, where a throng of fans celebrated Isaac Bruce's 73-yard touchdown reception -- the play that put the St. Louis Rams ahead to stay in Sunday's Super Bowl.

Clark, a St. Louis resident who watched the game in a Rams cap and jacket, was in the bathroom.

"I can't believe it - the first time I went to the bathroom, and the biggest play of the game!' she said.

Fans of both teams filed out of the Georgia Dome shaking their heads after the Rams beat the Tennessee Titans 23-16. Some were devastated and others elated, but most agreed that what they had watched was one of the NFL's greatest games.

"We started off taunting each other, but by the end of the game we were shaking hands," said Randy Hartley, a Titans fan from Brentwood, Tenn. "Everybody knew what they saw -- the best Super Bowl ever."

Rams fans chanted 'Bruce! Bruce! Bruce!' after the St. Louis receiver's touchdown catch. But they held their breath as Titans quarterback Steve McNair's last-second pass to Kevin Dyson came up 1 yard short of tying the game.

"It was absolutely awesome," said Lou Osman, who came to Atlanta without tickets and watched the game with his wife, Marianne, at CNN Center. "That last play took about five years off my life."

Suspenseful as it was, the game seemed almost secondary to some fans who decked themselves out in face paint, team jerseys and fake hair.

Barry Molteni of Lebanon, Tenn., wore a 2-foot, metallic blue wig and matching lei into CNN Center. His back pockets carried two team-colored pompoms and a flask.

Molteni wore a replica jersey of his hero, Titans place kicker Al Del Greco.

"But the hair didn't come till the playoffs," he said.

The weekend ice storm, anything but typical for a city whose nickname is "Hotlanta," forced scalpers to sell seats, which often go for several thousand dollars before Super Bowls, for as low as $300.

"It could be the weather. A lot of people didn't show up," said Rams fan James Shell of St. Louis, who was wearing a placard around his neck that said: "Need One Ticket For The Game."

A group of protesters tried to take advantage of the massive crowds to spread their disapproval of Georgia's state flag, which bears a representation of the Confederate battle flag.

Demonstrators threatened a boycott of Georgia, similar to the NAACP's tourism boycott of South Carolina, which flies the battle flag over its Statehouse.

Other than the protesters, people without obvious allegiance to the Rams or Titans were hard to find near the Dome.

But not impossible. Phil Farrell of Cumming walked around Philips Arena wearing a New York Jets jersey.

He bought tickets to the Super Bowl last year hoping the Jets would make it. They didn't, but Farrell cited this year's improbable Titans-Rams matchup as hope for his team next season.

His helmet said: "Jets 2001."

'They'll be here next year,' he said.

Related information
Day at a Glance: Five reasons why (team name) will win
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