The View From Section 147 at TampaBurgh

I have had the joy of seeing the Steelers play live in six different opposing stadiums, including multiple games in several cities, such as Atlanta, Cleveland, Jacksonville and Tampa. Each time I show up with a nation of of 15-25,000 from the Black and Gold brigade, and never have I seen the Steelers lose an away game. The only difference on Sunday in sunny, scorching Tampa was that there may have been 30-35,000 Steelers fans in attendance at Raymond James Stadium.

It was hard to find Buc fans tailgating

Actually, very few Bucs fans were tailgating before the game, but plenty of Pittsburgh fans were decked out in a variety of Steelers’ garb. An often-repeated but erroneous cliche is that Steelers fans travel from Pittsburgh to their team’s road games. In contrast, most of the Steelers fans I talked to on Sunday were actually from Florida or the Southeast. Many, like myself, have Western Pa. roots. Others just hopped on the welcoming Steelers Nation bandwagon at a young age and never looked back. After the game, some folks on the Buccaneers’ call-in show were complaining that the stadium was 70-80 percent Steelers fans, but that was an exaggeration. It wasn’t that lopsided until after halftime. Our seats were lower-level end zone near the center of the field. Excellent views for a trio of Steelers touchdowns, including Mike Wallace’s second score.

Steelers' KO unit celebrates with fans

Of course, these seats were nowhere near as good as my last trip to Raymond James Stadium when I sat upper deck on the 49-yard line. And as wonderful as last Sunday’s 38-13 dismantling of Tampa was, it was also no match for attending the most exciting Super Bowl ever played.

Steelers take the field in Super Bowl XLIII

There were a few Bucs fans talking trash to Steelers fans, especially after Charlie Batch threw an interception early in the game. However, they were quickly silenced and most gave up before their team did. Could you imagine the riot that would ensue if 30,000 opposing fans tried to take over a Steelers’ game in Heinz Field? That would never happen, because those people cannot get tickets to a Pittsburgh home game. However, judging by the passionless Bucs fans who actually watch the team live (all of their home games are blacked out in West and Central Florida), the only way a riot would take place in Tampa Bay would be if Matlock reruns were dropped from syndication. Bucs fans do not care or even know their current team, since the most popular jerseys I saw Sunday were those of Derrick Brooks and Mike Alstott, both of whom are retired. Another reason why Bucs fans were generally kind to the visitors were the absurd number of beautiful “Stiller Women” in the crowd, many of whom it seems are big fans of SteelersLounge.com.

The weather and Charlie Batch were not the only things hot in Tampa on Sunday

There were plenty of big plays from the likes of Rashard Mendenhall, who rushed for 143 yards and the ever-dependable Hines Ward who recorded his 79th career TD catch.

Celebrating with Hines

Mendenhall breaks free

Charles in charge

However, no Steeler accounted for more key plays on Sunday than cerebral, fourth-string quarterback Charlie Batch, a genuinely likable veteran who was serenaded with chants of “Charlie, Charlie” throughout the game’s final 20 minutes and as he left the field following his 3-TD passing performance. He acknowledged us chanting his name in the end zone on several occasions.

Brett Keisel gives hand kisses and nods appreciation to Steeler fans as he exited the field.

After the game, though, no player seemed to bask in the glory of the throngs of Steelers fans cheering their warriors as they exited the field than veteran defensive end Brett Keisel, who simultaneously recorded his first career interception and touchdown on a 79-yard return in the fourth quarter. For those in attendance, it was similar to exiting Heinz field after an early-season win, with fans chanting “Here we go Steelers,” and “We got a feeling, Pittsburgh’s going to the Super Bowl.” Again, hardly a Bucs fan could be found in sight.

All in all, a joyous and wonderful experience well worth the cost. If you have never had the pleasure of seeing a Steelers’ road game in person, I strongly suggest you go this year. After all, you will make a lot of new friends and will not feel like a visitor in any opposing stadium.

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  • eddie

    i don’t know that you could really say diesel recorded his first INT and TD “simultaneously.” there was about 79 yards between the two events, and though the big fella can run (contrary to what tasker would have you believe), even usain bolt needs more than a few seconds to travel 70+ yards.

    nice write up. oustide of the ‘burgh, i’ve only had a chance to see stillers in SF, oakland, philly, oh, and detroit (super bowl XL). been to many games both at heinz and three rivers. every where i went, tons o’ stillers fans, though usually not in bikini’s.

    • Ted

      Lol, great point, Eddie, you got me semantically. No one can “simultaneously” intercept a pass and return it 79 yards. My choice of words was even worse considering this was not Ike Taylor, who runs a 4.3 but never actually intercepts passes, but instead a veteran 3-4 DL in Keisel, who was faster than Andy Russell on that long return but not many others. A great play nonetheless.

      In my defense, though, I may have had too many Iron City beers yesterday. You are definitely a tougher man than me if you saw Pittsburgh in Oakland! Those criminals threw a Steeler fan down the rafters. You have some guts.

  • Cubbyj

    I’m stationed in Virginia Beach and travel up to DC to watch the STEELERS and they go nuts up there with all the STEELER fans. Last game they handed out white towels for the Redskins fans… Didn’t work. LOL

    • Ted

      That is exactly what they did in Tampa. Handed out white towels to everyone entering to try to counter the Terrible Towels. Unfortunately for the home folks, most fans of either teams just used them as sweat rags, sort of like how the Steelers used the Bucs all game.