"We're really sad right now," said Molly Mackenzie of Boston, who was watching the game at a bar near Fenway Park with two friends. "It was a good game, really close."
Hundreds of police officers in riot gear gathered in the streets, focusing on the areas near college campuses and sports bars, where previous celebrations had turned wild. Many were brought in from other departments to help out.
But after the Giants won 21-17, fans quietly filed back to cars and public transit stations, past the officers lining the streets.
Things were rowdier across the state at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, where police in riot gear and on horseback used flash grenades to disperse hundreds of students who gathered in the main residential part of the campus.
Marissa Faldasz, a junior whose dorm room looks out on the part of campus where students gathered, said they were chanting "U.S.A., U.S.A.," and throwing beer cans and toilet paper rolls.
"As soon as the game ended, a bunch of students came running from all across the campus," she said.
Alarms sounded and the students left after about a half-hour, then gathered again before leaving for good. Faldasz said she saw students get in fistfights and one fighting with police, but she did not see any ambulances. She said there was a similar incident after Osama bin Laden was killed last year.
A University of Massachusetts-Amherst spokesman could not immediately provide details and police declined to comment.
Back in Boston, at Game On, a bar near Fenway, the atmosphere was tense until people started chanting, "Let's Go Pats, Let's Go Pats," with about five minutes and 30 seconds left to go and the Patriots up by 2. Then the Giants scored a touchdown, knocking the wind out of their sails. The bar stayed full until the final seconds, when Tom Brady's desperation pass into the end zone fell just beyond Rob Gronkowski's grasp.
"It was very disappointing," said Karen Snyder of Boston, who was celebrating her birthday Sunday. "Defensively, we should have done better. We weren't ready for when the Giants changed up their offense."
Earlier in the night, the crowd got quiet when the Patriots trailed in the first half, then erupted into dancing, fist-pumping and shouting when they took the lead with a touchdown right before halftime.
"You know Brady," said Frank Monti, a fan from New York City. "He's good for fourth-quarter wins. I'm not worried."
At McGreevy's 3rd Base Saloon in the city's Back Bay neighborhood, where six large TVs and a framed oval portrait of Coach Bill Belichick hung over the bar, manager Art Santora said he had met with the police and the liquor commission to talk about safety measures. No one was being allowed to line up outside to get into the packed bar - once it was full that was it.
"You can tell that there are no fair weather fans in Boston," Anderson said.
Victor Janczar arrived in plenty of time from Chicopee, in western Massachusetts, because he and his girlfriend wanted to be with other Patriots fans. They're such serious fans that they purposely flew JetBlue on a trip back from California so they could watch the Patriots play San Diego in Week 2 of the NFL season on the seat-back televisions. They predicted a close game Sunday but thought the Patriots would pull it out, 27-24.
"It'll really depend on how well the Patriots' defense can cover New York's receivers," Janczar said before the game.
Not all that well, as it turned out.
"The good news is that the defense can't get any worse," said Keith Versteegden of Red Deer, Alberta, a student in Boston, who declared the game "depressing" afterward.
Said Chris Sondej, a student in Boston University's College of Management, said: "It was heartbreaking when (Wes) Welker dropped that pass in the third quarter."
He also noted the game could have implications for the legacy of the team's quarterback and coach.
"Brady doesn't have that many years left in him," he said. "We'll see what comes of the Brady-Belichick team after this."