BOSTON — New England football fans erupted Sunday in a joyous frenzy over the Patriots 31-14 victory over the Miami Dolphins for their first American Football Conference title and first chance in the Super Bowl.
Boston police sealed off a block-square area around Northeastern University as students "got over-anxious celebrating the victory of the Patriots," said a communications officer of the campus police who declined to identify herself.
She said the crowd dispersed, and no arrests or injuries were reported.
"I've never seen people this excited over the Patriots in a long time," bartender Bill Jones, 25, of Natick said over shrieks of a capacity crowd jammed to watch the televised game in the Beacon Hill saloon, The Bull and Finch saloon, the model for television's "Cheers" series. "They deserve it. The fans have been through hell."
"The Patriots pushed them all over the place," said Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis, who interrupted his preparations for Tuesday night's state-of-the-state address to the Legislature to watch the game in his Brookline home with his family. "They're a team that we can all be proud of."
Dukakis press aide James Dorsey said Dukakis and his wife, Kitty, planned to arrange to attend the Super Bowl Jan. 26 against the Chicago Bears.
"The Patriots are going to tame those Bears," said Boston Mayor Raymond L. Flynn, who watched the game with other state and city officials at City Hall.
Frank Costello, his spokesman, said Flynn and Chicago Mayor Harold Washington met in New York Thursday and discussed a wager if the Patriots made it to the Super Bowl.
Flynn won a couple of corn beef sandwiches from Mayor Ed Koch of New York when the Patriots beat the Jets, 26-14, on Dec. 28 for the wild card spot; a crate of oranges from Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley when the Pats beat the Raiders, 27-20, on Jan. 5; and a crate of pink grapefruit from Miami Mayor Xavier Suarez for beating the Dolphins.
"There is a general agreement in principal tonight that it will be lobster versus steak," Costello said.
"I'm so happy," said Demetrios Panagopoulos, 52, owner of The Red Snapper Restaurant, a half mile down the road from Sullivan Stadium in Foxboro where the Patriots play their home games. "We've waited 26 years for them to win."
The Patriots, who began their road to the National Football League finale as a wild card entrant in the playoffs, beat the Dolphins in the Orange Bowl after 18 straight losses.
Throughout New England, football fans crowded bars or gathered with friends at homes to watch the nationally televised game.
Panagopoulos said hundreds of fans piled into his restaurant and bar, where they watched the game on three 10-foot TV screens.
"I think they were destined to win," said Richie Trainor, owner of the Ye Olde Brick Grill in Braintree. "They have been playing hard the whole second half of the year and they have been creating their breaks, and the breaks are paying off for them."
Both Trainor and Panagopoulos predicted victory over the Chicago Bears, who beat the Patriots early in the regular season.
"The way they are playing now, they are playing from the heart," said Panagopoulos, who opened his restaurant 15 years ago when the Patriots moved from Boston to Foxboro. "They are not just playing for money anymore."