The View From 522: Steelers vs. Falcons

Since Gretz is a season-ticket holder, he’s going to take a look at the debauchery and insanity that takes place in the Heinz Field stands after every home game he attends.

– I just don’t understand the people that leave games early, especially when it’s close and/or going into overtime. With the Steelers leading 9-6 early in the fourth quarter there was a steady stream of people headed toward the gates, and still more people leaving at the start of overtime. Don’t get it. Don’t understand it.

There’s a lot of talk now about how HDTV and the Red Zone Channel, among other amenities, have made the viewing experience from home better than actually being at the game. The question for you, dear Loungers (I’m not sure if I’ve asked this question here before, for some reason I think I have, but I’m going to ask it now anyway), is if you prefer to watch the game from the comforts of home or at the stadium?

For me, the answer is simple: no HDTV can come close to matching the in-stadium atmosphere and being able to see everything that happens on the entire field.

Now, onto the madness…

– From my point of view, I thought most (though, not all) of Dennis Dixon’s mistakes were physical ones as opposed to mental ones. For example: He seemed to be throwing to the right guys — open ones — but he was simply missing the mark. A lot of passes low and in the dirt, almost as if he was either: A) Trying to aim it like he was throwing a dart, or B) So paranoid about throwing a pick or making a mistake that he was purposely putting everything near the feet of his receivers. Even the interception that was intended for Heath Miller … if he gets any elevation on that pass, Miller is wide open and probably has a 20-yard gain. He was open. He just made a bad pass. I don’t know what’s worse: Throwing good passes to the wrong guy, or throwing bad passes to the right guy. Either way, I’m pretty sure it’s not good. Still, he finished with respectable numbers, didn’t do anything completely stupid and did hit a couple of big passes. Winner.

I though the 52-yard play to Mike Wallace (which Wallace almost dropped, by the way) was a great pass, and one of the better deep balls a Pittsburgh quarterback has made in some time. Ben’s great and all, but his deep ball stinks most of the time. With Atlanta crowding the line, and, from what I could see, playing Wallace one-on-one, I would have taken another shot or two, just to keep them honest.

Also: I think it’s physically impossible to overthrow Wallace.

– Remember that Dixon vs. Charlie Batch debate? Well, sitting about three rows in front of us was a guy that left no doubt as to which corner he was in. From the opening kickoff until Rashard Mendenhall outran the Atlanta defense in overtime, he would scream “Don’t pass it!” every time the Steelers offense lined up, “WHY ARE YOU PASSING IT?!” every time Dixon dropped back to pass, and “C-BATCH, C-BATCH, C-BATCH” every time Dixon threw an incomplete pass.

– Speaking of Dixon fans… here’s one resourceful fan that decided to take his old Santonio Holmes jersey (though, part of me likes to believe this was an old Kordell Stewart jersey, just because I always have, and always will, love Slash) and turned it into a Dixon jersey. I’m pretty sure this violates some unwritten jersey rule (jersey foul!) somewhere, but here it is…

– I thought the best player on the field on Sunday (for both teams) was Lawrence Timmons. And I don’t think they fully unleashed him, either. He was, quite simply, everywhere. Against the run, in coverage, on special teams … just an absolutely phenomenal game. The type of performance we expected when he was drafted.

One of the most encouraging things I saw from the defense was the fact that there were a number of series, especially in the second half, where the line was made up entirely of backups — Ziggy Hood, Chris Hoke, Nick Eason — and they still managed to get the job done. Ziggy also stood out as having a pretty productive game. Nothing that made me jump up and say, “wow,” but definitely a very solid game as part of the rotation.

Michael Turner was a non-factor, and for all of the hype Matt Ryan received coming into this game, he was terrible. I’m not sure what people were expecting from him, but based on the talk I was pretty sure Tom Brady was going to be playing quarterback for Atlanta. For a young passer, he’s very good, and should get better, but at this point in his career he’s closer to mediocre than elite as a quarterback.

– Hated the decision to kick a 55-yard field goal at the end of the first half.

– Here’s an up-close encounter with Pittsburgh’s least favorite mascot, Steely McBeam, before the game as he was doing his thing (what that thing is, however, I’m not sure). My brother and I were discussing whether or not he’d pose for a picture and allow me to hold his Steel Beam. I assure you, that’s not a euphemism.

– What’s the most bizarre thing you saw all day, you ask? Well, at halftime, as I was making my way from the pisser to the exit of the bathroom, fighting through a drunken mob, I encountered two women that decided the line to the ladies room was just too damn long, and it would be faster — and easier — to use the men’s room.

What was truly bizarre was the fact nobody else seemed to find any of this the least bit odd, almost as if people were saying, “hey, come on in, welcome to the men’s room … make yourself at home.

I mean, when the men’s room gets overcrowded it’s not uncommon (and this used to be a regular occurrence at Three Rivers Stadium) to see sinks horrifyingly turned into bastardized urinals. (Hey, nobody ever accused football fans of being civilized people. And, no, I’ve never taken part in this … though, I do know somebody that once did, which is another story for another day … and it’s a good one). I imagine this would be a bit tougher for the ladies … and probably a little more awkward.

But enough of that…

– The offensive line play seemed better than I expected (though, I went in expecting nothing from that haphazardly thrown together group), and not completely terrible after Max Starks had to leave the game with his ankle injury. JJ is the offensive line expert around these parts, so I’ll defer to his judgment on what to do, but my initial feeling is this: Let’s just go with Jonathan Scott or Tony Hills at left tackle while keeping everybody else in their current positions. I’d rather have one guy filling in at a new spot (no matter how bad that one guy is) than having three or four people move around into different spots (one possibility that was mentioned post-game was flipping False Start Flozell over to the left side, kicking Trai Essex out to right tackle, and playing Doug Legursky at right guard … that’s a bit too much shuffling for my liking).

– If you’re going to trade up and draft a punter in the fourth-round — as the Steelers did with Daniel Sepulveda in 2007 — you better be getting one hell of a punter. On Sunday, Sepulveda was one hell of a punter. The Steelers were getting crushed in field position for most of the game, but Sepulveda proved to be a huge asset by averaging over 50 yards per punt, with plenty of hang time. How big was that punt late in the fourth quarter when he pushed Atlanta back inside its own 25-yard line with just under two minutes to play? Huge. The very next play was Troy Polamalu’s interception.

– I thought that one Atlanta defender was going to catch Mendenhall before he made it to the end zone, and while it still probably would have resulted in a win, a field goal in overtime just wouldn’t have been as exciting as a 50-yard touchdown run (though, I certainly wouldn’t have complained about the field goal, either).

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  • SteelerBill

    Nice work as always Adam….lots of debate now about topic #1…..but with the internet and everything available on TV now it’s tough not to want to be in the comfort of your own home…

    Also the female in the bathroom thing was pretty common at Soldier Field…..

    One other note, you should submit that picture of the Dixon fan to UniWatch

  • RoB D

    Women in men’s bathroom…I’ve always admired the courage of these women. As my young niece said once “Men are not as nice as girls. EVER!!” OK, she was 6 at the time but its my favourite family quote.

    HDTV is wonderful but being with the crowd is the whole reason to go to a game live. I have only been to 2 Steelers games in my life and both were at the old stadium. But I have been to many Michigan games in my younger days and numerous NHL games. Nothing like it. I don’t get people leaving early either..what’s the point? To beat traffic? The lamest excuse ever to miss the end of a close game.

    Dixon just plain scares me. I’ll leave it at that. Anything can happen. He had some nice stats and a few great moments but really, he was just trying not to make a mistake, I think. Thats OK but won’t win many games in the NFL. We just have to hope he has at least one more win in the offing. Very likable kid and talented. Its like watching your kid learn to ride his two wheeler. A delicate balance.

    Let’s all give Lebeau a standing ovation. That’s why he should go in again as a coach to the HOF. Masterful.

    Timmons was incredible.. along with just about everyone else on D.

    I want Hills/Scott at LT and everyone else to stay where they are. As the wise ones of O-line play always say continuity is the most important factor along that position. I like Flozell steamrolling people in the run game from his RT spot (I tried to isolate him yesterday and he looks, to me anyway, like he is improving a lot and getting comfortable at that spot) The O-line didn’t suck! Cool.

    Great writeup..I love these “man on the scene’ things…

  • Steve

    Great job – Im in Club 234 and see people leaving all the time – drives me nuts – If its better at home stay home and get the tickets to someone who wants to fully support the team -Win or lose

  • John S.

    On your question, no doubt, it’s hard to beat the atmosphere of being in the stadium, especially on a big defensive series or a fourth quarter comeback drive. That being said, there’s a lot of headaches involved in going to a game, and depending on your seats, I think you often get a better overall visual picture at home.

    For the last 4-5 years, we’ve been on a solid, one game at the stadium a year pace. That seems about right. Granted, we don’t live in Pittsburgh, but even if we did, I can’t imagine doing it more than once or twice a year.

    Unless we’re talking about playoffs…

    PS — Also hate when people leave early, winning or losing. Can’t even imagine leaving early in a game as close as yesterday.

  • Laura

    Well, I’ve only been to maybe four or five pro football games- all of them preseason games and maybe a dozen college fb games. I’d have to say that I prefer being at home, mostly because

    a: I hate big crowds

    b: it is really hard to get tickets

    c: when you can get tickets, it’s for the nosebleed section (and i don’t do well with heights)…

    But … I do think the atmosphere at the games is like nothing else. I will/MUST at some point go to a Steelers game at Heinz Field and will experience complete Steelers nirvana. :)

  • Ktulu22

    Good article.

    Going to the game is always fun, particularly when it is a big game. That said, it is a bit of a headache. The tickets, parking, beer is expensive, filing in and out of the stadium, standing in line at the bathroom, post game traffic, having someone sober enough to drive, etc etc. I go to a game every other season or so, and it’s always a great time, but that’s about enough for me.

    The crowd definitely seemed louder than usual on Sunday for a 1:00 game, by the way. Crowd was definitely a factor.

  • Ktulu22

    Good article.

    Going to the game is always fun, particularly when it is a big game. That said, it is a bit of a headache. The tickets, parking, beer is expensive, filing in and out of the stadium, standing in line at the bathroom, post game traffic, having someone sober enough to drive, etc etc. I go to a game every other season or so, and it’s always a great time, but that’s about enough for me.

    The crowd definitely seemed louder than usual on Sunday for a 1:00 game, by the way. Crowd was definitely a factor.

  • Ktulu22

    Good article.

    Going to the game is always fun, particularly when it is a big game. That said, it is a bit of a headache. The tickets, parking, beer is expensive, filing in and out of the stadium, standing in line at the bathroom, post game traffic, having someone sober enough to drive, etc etc. I go to a game every other season or so, and it’s always a great time, but that’s about enough for me.

    The crowd definitely seemed louder than usual on Sunday for a 1:00 game, by the way. Crowd was definitely a factor.

  • tlg8tr

    I was in 526 and had an interesting question for all of you. I took my 8 year old daughter to her first game sunday and it was an unforgettable experience for both of us. Being as busy as I am, and as I’m sure most of you are, I find it hard to spend as much time with my kids as I’d like. She’s been begging me to take her for a while now so I finally caved, especially since I only paid face value for the tickets. Anyway, the question is, is she too young to go, and a follow up would be, does having a child in the stands make other fans uncomfortable? Just a side note, I’m 36 and a high school teacher.