The celebration of the Patriots' second Super Bowl title in three years ended tragically late last night when a vehicle drove into a crowd near Northeastern University and seriously injured two revelers, police at the scene said.
Ismael Luis, 19, who lives on nearby Norway Street, said he saw an SUV backing down Symphony Road the wrong way, then lurch forward and hit three people. "From there, he just pressed the gas and he just ran through the three guys. It looked like [one] was breathing, but he was really badly damaged. I hope he's OK."
Police at the scene said the unidentified driver of the SUV was under arrest. Police could not identify the three revelers who were hit, including the two seriously hurt.
The crowd near Northeastern was one of many that spilled into the streets across Boston after the thrilling victory by the Patriots over the Carolina Panthers.
Unruly revelers set bonfires at Faneuil Hall, in Kenmore Square, and at the intersection of Brighton and Harvard avenues in Allston, where firefighters sprayed the crowd with a hose in hopes of dispersing people. Fans climbed traffic light poles and flipped three cars near Northeastern University; and they threw bottles, urinated on storefronts, vandalized a WHDH-TV news truck, and broke the glass window of an H & R Block office in Kenmore Square.
At least one young reveler was transported by ambulance after apparently falling from a building on Hemenway Street.
The injuries and rowdy behavior marred an otherwise magical night for Patriots fans.
Unlike two years ago, when they were underdogs to capture their first NFL championship, the Patriots rode into last night's Super Bowl on a 14-game winning streak, heavily favored to win again. But being expected to beat Carolina's plucky Panthers didn't make last night's win any less sweet for the New England faithful -- especially when victory arrived, once again, on a dramatic, game-winning kick from Adam Vinatieri.
"It started out so slow, the whole game I thought I was going to have a heart attack. But it was unbelievable and thank God we pulled out a win," said Jeff Pamagini, 25, who watched the game in his Boylston Street apartment, then joined the hundreds of fans celebrating on Yawkey Way.
Mayor Thomas M. Menino said last night the city will hold a victory parade from Copley Square to City Hall Plaza at noon tomorrow.
Boston police insisted that the vast majority of fans celebrated lawfully. A detective on the scene at Faneuil Hall described the crowd as "somewhat manageable" and "energetic, happy, and law-abiding" as some tried to put a Patriots jersey on the statue of Sam Adams. While some revelers were seen being taken into custody, a police spokesman said there would be no reports on the number of arrests made last night.
Shannon Kenney of Wayland was in a crowd of revelers that blocked the intersection of Brighton and Harvard avenues in Allston, waving Patriots banners and screaming, "Dynasty!"
"In the end I knew Adam was going to pull it out," said Kenney, 22.
Long before the Patriots and Panthers suited up, football fans -- and law enforcement officials -- in Boston and across New England were busy with their own pre-game preparations.
Patriots partisans staked out seats at some sports bars before noon, and most establishments filled up quickly as the clock ticked toward kickoff. Many fans flocked to liquor stores to take advantage of the new state law permitting Sunday alcohol sales.
Dan Kimball, 23, of Salem, N.H., who watched the game with his sister and his fiancee at Tequila Rain on Lansdowne Street, wore a lucky hat his fiancee had given him on Oct. 4, the day before the Patriots began their winning streak. As the clock wound down, Kimball joined the rest of the crowd in dancing on the tables, and confetti dropped from the ceiling once the Patriots had clinched the victory.
"I was nervous the entire game, especially during the first quarter," Kimball said. "But it's the Pats and you've got to have faith!"
Boston police, mindful of the raucous celebrations that erupted after the Patriots won the 2002 Super Bowl and the Red Sox clinched a championship series berth last fall, had promised to prevent similar behavior last night: In Allston, where young revelers walked on cars and lit bonfires in 2002, officers enforced special parking restrictions, clearing the streets of vehicles to prevent a repeat.
The police employed extra patrols in areas where bars are plentiful, and officers checked establishments for underage drinking, overcrowding, and fans being served too much alcohol.
Many colleges also took special precautions. At the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, students checked identification outside dorms to deter rowdy behavior. At Northeastern University, where a crowd of 3,000 revelers had torched a car after the 2002 Super Bowl, administrators used free pizza and big-screen televisions to draw students to small parties in dormitories. And at the University of New Hampshire, school officials and police warned students that if they gathered on Main Street to watch raucous celebrations, they might be arrested. The heightened security had the desired effect in Durham, N.H.
"They saturated the area with police. There's no chance of anything happening -- it's like a totalitarian state," said Hugh Jenson, a 21-year-old UNH student from Braintree.
But a heavy police presence didn't subdue revelers in Amherst, where several students were taken into custody after they started setting off fireworks between the dormitories. At about 11 p.m., university police issued a dispersal order when the crowd began throwing snowballs and toilet paper rolls. The victory celebrations were hours away when people began gathering at Stadium, a bar in South Boston, at 11 a.m. yesterday. In contrast to the Patriots' last trip to the Super Bowl, when even the most stalwart Pats fans feared their underdog team was overmatched, confidence and a sense of championship entitlement dominated the pregame mood.
"My only concern is that it not be a blowout," said co-owner Dave Greaney, with a slight Irish brogue.
Last night's seesaw battle was anything but a blowout. Two years ago, it slowly dawned on Pats fans that their team might actually beat the favored St. Louis Rams. This time, the butterflies in the stomachs of many New Englanders were of a different variety: Would they actually lose? "I'm concerned. I have a bad vibe," Susan Jesser, 27, said as halftime arrived with the Patriots clinging to a narrow 14-10 lead. Jesser, who watched the game at the Big City Bar in Brighton, said she was more comfortable with the Pats as underdogs. "I'm worried they're cocky."
Not everybody was celebrating last night, of course. At Brother Jimmy's BBQ in Cambridge, chefs in Jimmy's "Carolina Kitchen" cooked hush puppies and Carolina pulled pork sandwiches for a standing-room only crowd that included a smattering of Panthers fans. "This was one of the hardest days of my entire life," said Baron Hanson, a 33-year-old Harvard business school student from Charlotte.
David Abel and Jamie Vaznis of the Globe staff and Globe correspondents Heather Allen, Kevin Joy, Emma Stickgold, Jack Hagel, Martha Bartle, Patrick J. Calnan, Ron DePasquale, Adam Krauss, John McDermott, and Eric Goldscheider contributed to this report.