ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. - Excitement was building at home Friday night for the Jaguars' big showdown against the New England Patriots in Foxborough, Massachusetts, on Sunday.
Jacksonville fans came together, rallying Jaguars nation to show support for the home team, in Atlantic Beach.
Fly’s Tie Irish Pub is known for its year-round support for the Jaguars, but it took it up a notch Friday night with a special tribute to the team: a lighted "DUUUVALL" sign on the roof of the pub.
The enthusiasm for the Jaguars is even more apparent on the inside, where there's a "shrine" to Jacksonville's NFL team.
Fly’s Tie Irish Pub owner Ralph Tiernan has been waiting for a season like this for a long time.
"I mean, come on. I’m 50. I don’t think I have many more of these left in me, you know?" Tiernan said. "So this year, this is it."
Inside the Irish pub, Jaguars memorabilia is everywhere -- from a game ball dedicated to the pub to a fake Super Bowl trophy. And fans' enthusiasm matches the surroundings.
"You hear it right now and there's not even a game going on. Just imagine when the game is on and we are winning," Fly’s Tie Irish Pub bartender Bailey Bryson said. "Big game weekends are amazing for us, the fans. Everybody around it's amazing for. The atmosphere is incredible."
Fly's Tie was packed with patrons nearly 48 hours before the AFC Championship game. Among the sea of Jaguars fans Friday night was one brave fan from the other side who found his way inside.
"It's funny because I didn't even really notice at first. I went over there to get a drink and one of the guys came over to talk to me and he was, like, 'You've got to feel pretty funny being in Jacksonville right now," Patriots fan Craig O'Donnell said. "I think everybody is probably angry at me."
But for the fans of the home team, a lot rides on the game this weekend.
"I'm a little confident," Tiernan said, laughing while holding up the fake Super Bowl trophy.
The owner pointed out what they’ll be serving Sunday to call out Tom Brady, who many consider the greatest quarterback at all time: Goat stew and goat cheese dip to go with Cape Cod potato chips.
From Fly Tie's to downtown Jacksonville -- excitement and anticipation was building all over Duval County.
At EverBank Field, a small but enthusiastic group of fans came together for an impromptu pep rally Friday night.
Their message: "We want Brady."
For fans, this weekend's game has been a long time coming.
I just can’t tell you how I feel," Jaguars fan Monica Moore said. "It’s just like having a heart attack. I’ve been saying it since we got the Jaguars that we’re going to the Super Bowl. I say it at the beginning of every year, 'We’re going to the Super Bowl.' And to be this close, I’m very excited."
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Jacksonville fan Jalal Alajoulin was also excited, and anxious, ahead of the AFC title game.
"(It's) very, very exhilarating, thrilling, and hard to believe almost after 10 years of not being in the playoffs," Alajoulin said. "But I sure hope we get this game, and the next game."
Many more rallies and celebrations are planned for this weekend. Management at Fly’s Tie said Sunday will be one of the wildest days they’ve seen in a very long time.
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