SAN DIEGO, JAN. 31 -- It looked like a scene from an old western. Georgetown University law student David Johnson found his Super Bowl seats and suddenly he was surrounded. Everywhere he looked, orange.
For an interminable quarter, as the Washington Redskins fell behind 10-0, he took the abuse, the boos, the threats of eviction and worse. One Bronco fan even turned her video camera on him, "to show my friends what losers look like," she said.
But then the tide turned. The Redskins piled on the points -- storming back to win 42-10 -- and Johnson and friend Brian Mulligan were a better kind of alone, the only standing, cheering folks in their section.
"I knew it from the moment we pulled into the parking lot and I heard the Rolling Stones on the radio," Johnson said. "Whenever the Redskins are going to win, I hear the Stones."
Heavily outnumbered, drowning in a sea of orange sweatshirts, Redskins fans won total vindication today. If they were often the only shouting fans in their section, it didn't matter.
"When we kick their behinds, it's so quiet over here, you'd think they were sleeping," said Russell Williams, a Redskins fan in an all-Bronco corner of Jack Murphy Stadium.
Williams' bravado came at half time, after the Redskins had taken a 35-10 lead. An hour earlier, when Washington was behind by 10, the mood was distinctly different.
A San Diego County sheriff's deputy said he might have to arrest the Redskins. The charge: "Not showing up."
From the circus of a pregame show -- two camels, 600 military officers, 10 Bob Hope look-alikes and 30,000 balloons -- to the wild postgame parties, Super Bowl XXII was a celebration of excess, a sporting event in which the game played a leading but by no means dominant role.
Six folks from Alexandria pulled into the parking lot of Jack Murphy Stadium hours before the game, their rental van brimming with Redskin pompons, stickers and banners such as "No Way Elway."
Mique Luckett did the decorating, just as she had turned hotel rooms in Las Vegas and Anaheim into Redskins shrines.
"I've seen a lot more Denver people here than Washington people, but we've got the spirit," said her husband, Tom Luckett.
Redskin fans may have been out- numbered, but they were hardly outshouted. Led by the Hogettes, seven stogie-chomping gents in lovely dresses, hog snouts, Army boots, burgundy and yellow wigs and several days of facial stubble, a crowd of the faithful gathered to get their vocal chords in gear before the game.
As the final seconds ticked away, three bare-chested Redskin warriors from Virginia could do nothing but shriek and whoop.
"This is great, this is great," Tim Rader shouted. Then he turned to row upon row of glum faces and orange shirts. "Is this great?" he asked.
Rader, wearing Redskins boxer shorts, quit his job and spent every dollar he had to get to the game. "My bank account is 47 cents," he said. "But who needs a job when you win the Super Bowl?"
Despite the thousands of Denverites who took advantage of geography and drove to San Diego, Washingtonians were not to be out-crazied.
Allan Fair, a retired D.C. police officer from Olney, stood ready to explain the 17 Factor to any and all comers. With a cardboard sign as visual aid, he delivered a lecture that was stunning, if not totally persuasive.
"Okay," he said, "the quarterback is number 17, we won the last game on the 17th, our last Super Bowl win was the 17th, and the clincher -- my mom's birthday, the 17th. So it's obvious. Redskins, 37-20, winning by 17."
Internal Revenue Service lawyer Allen Goldstein of Bethesda brought five hog noses to the game, "in case one wears out."
Redskins fans had no monopoly on stunts. Perhaps the biggest crowd lure around the stadium was a dancing condom, a model wearing black pumps and a giant symbol of safe sex. Thousands of raucously amused fans crowded around her as they passed along the walkway into the stadium. Many collected free samples of her company's product.
It was a seedy scene, a far cry from the fancy corporate parties held in oversized tents.
Dixieland and rock bands blared as businesses plied their top customers and managers with poached salmon, fine wine and the feeling of being the ultimate insider.
The more festive scene by far was in the $5 parking lot, where improvised tailgate parties turned into a Can You Top This? of Redskin devotion.
Six women who call themselves the Turbanettes wowed the crowd with their custom-made burgundy and gold turbans and Doug Williams sweatsuits.
"We came on a mission," said Lela Reeves. "We're here for our Dougie and our Redskins."
Deep in the end zone stands, in one of the few solid pockets of Redskins fans, boxing champion Sugar Ray Leonard sat welled up with pride in his friend Doug Williams.
"He keeps coming back and doing it," Leonard said. "Doug is the talent man."
As the game wound down and a rout was certain, Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke said in his stadium box that it was a "madhouse, a thrilling madhouse." The revelry later carried over into the lobby and grounds of the Hyatt hotel here, where jubilant Washington fans partied late into the night.
Early arrivals to the victory party at the hotel were tossing around boxes of Wheaties that featured a picture of the Redskins team.
Entertainer Bob Hope, who was honored at a halftime show, was less delighted by the game's outcome. On an elevator leaving the stadium, a woman asked Hope why he had bet on the Broncos. Hope replied, "We're just stupid." But he added, "I'll get it back in basketball."
Before the kickoff, the scalping bazaar that had kept the National Football League headquarters hotel lobby humming all night transferred to Friars Road, the only approach to the stadium. Fans in search of good deals lined the side of the road, holding plaintive signs.
Less than 40 hours after they decided to grab a last-minute flight from Washington, Matt Trott, 18, and his father, a D.C. firefighter, arrived at the stadium in search of tickets. They were prepared to pay $200 each, not a cent more. The young man was so confident he would get in that he had painted burgundy and gold stripes across his face, neatly matching his hand-painted shirt, which said, "I need 2 tickets." "We're praying to get in," Trott said.
Cash did the talking. Prices kept falling all morning, and by shortly before game time, decent seats could be had for $250. But unlike previous games, when prices bottomed out at close to face value by kickoff, hundreds of frustrated fans remained outside the gates through the first half.
"Three hundred dollars was the best deal," said George Mason University student Jim Lindsay. "I was hoping for $150. Long way to come for nothing. Long way."
Mayor Marion Barry, sitting well up in the stands on the 40-yard line, wore his trademark burgundy Redskins cowboy hat, a gold turtleneck and a burgundy jacket. He said D.C. police are already planning a Redskins victory parade for Wednesday.
There won't be any parade for Redskins fans in Denver, but Donna Eaton, a transplanted Washingtonian, won't need one.
Waving a "Love Them Hogs" sign, she was so caught up in the Redskins' surging comeback that she had to wipe away tears at several points.
"I can't stand this," she shouted. "The greatest thing in the world would be to be able to go back to Denver and be able to finally tell them who's the best. I would talk about this every day for a year."
Staff writer Tom Sherwood contributed to this report.