NBC television had its minute of silence before Super Bowl XX today. The citizens of Boston, after a very brief explosion, had an entire evening of silence after their Patriots had been mauled by the Bears.

There was no Tea Party here.

It's difficult to imagine a city going from being completely rowdy to so completely noiseless in such a short period of time as Boston, and probably all of New England, did in the wake of the most lopsided game in Super Bowl history.

Earlier, fans had jammed Jason's Bar and Restaurant, a principal palace of Boston's Yuppiedom in a town said to possess more of that excitable but easily bored breed per capita than any town anywhere.

"You'd think they could have gotten more than a single first down," said one disgusted young woman wearing the requisite "Berry the Bears" sweat shirt. "It's embarrassing; they look like clowns."

She turned to her companion, suggested that they test the buffet and leave before the start of the second half.

"To tell you the truth, I never figured we had much of a chance," said glum Harry Nathan, whose eyes remained riveted on the giant TV even as the situation moved from bad to worse. "I just hoped we wouldn't get blown out of the water, which, for sure, we are."

"The Conservatory" is a chic club in the Copley Square area that bills itself as "Boston's hottest nightclub."

When the final seconds of the Patriots' 46-10 defeat had ticked away, The Conservatory was completely empty, just four hours after more than 200 people had crammed the posh club in anticipation of one of Boston's biggest party nights ever.

But by halftime, when the Bears took a 23-3 lead, up to one-third of the customers had seen enough up on the big color screen.

"They started to drink more and more," bartender Brian Burkinshaw said. "I mean, they really went to the hard stuff."

Burkinshaw and fellow bartender Kevin Martin figured they'd lost at least "a couple of thousand dollars" because the party ended so early.

"If they'd won, the city would be so packed and the parties would be so intense, and all night long," Martin said, perhaps envisioning a packed cash register.

"You mean like it is right now in Chicago," Burkinshaw said sadly.

"It's a sad, sad day," Martin said. "Have I seen the city get this quiet? Maybe last year when the Celtics lost to the Lakers."

The day started off well enough here, partly because of the Celtics' exhilarating NBA victory over the Philadelphia 76ers earlier this afternoon.

It was there, in the din of Boston Garden, where Bostonians began chanting, "We want the Bears," when a fan took a giant teddy bear, dressed in headband and Jim McMahon-style sunglasses, and hung him over the rafters for all to see.

The city was at a high then. A man standing in front of the Garden was offering what he called grilled "bear meat." Parties were breaking out all over the region.

But the only thing the New Englanders would have to celebrate would be Walter Payton's fumble and Tony Franklin's subsequent field goal.

When the agony was finally over, Bostonians walked silently home in, appropriately enough, fog and steady rain. Most didn't even have umbrellas.

The mood was to brood.

Some of this city's livelier late-night eating and drinking spots that were hoping for hours of more madness were so quiet one could hear silverware hit carpet.

Copley Square Hotel restaurant: silent.

J.C. Hillary's on Boylston: somber.

The Bull & Finch Pub, better known as the Cheers bar: not a peep.

"It's so quiet out here, I can't even get a passenger," Peter Mahona, driving an Avenue taxi, said about 10 p.m. "I just went to the gas station, and the guys there were almost crying.

"Look over there (at an empty Westin Hotel restaurant). This is like Christmas Day, it's so quiet, except nobody's happy. The disappointment is too much right now.

"When the Patriots beat Miami two weeks ago, everybody wanted to shake my hand and give me big tips. Now, nobody wants to even talk, forget a tip."