View From 522: Jets vs. Steelers

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.

It was a little weird walking over to Heinz Field on Sunday because we knew, win or lose, there wouldn’t be another home game until next season. Hard to believe how fast this season has come and gone. It seems like it was just last week that we went to the first preseason game, or watched Rashard Mendenhall bust off a 50-yard run in overtime to secure a Week 1 win against Atlanta. That said, we also knew that with a win there would be another epic celebration on the field, as well as two more weeks of fun waiting for the game Brian Billick once referred to as “Festivus Maximus.” That was all the incentive I needed to layer up on the clothes and spend nine hours in sub-zero wind chills.

Here’s a quick look at the aftermath on the bedroom floor. No, that’s not a weeks worth of dirty laundry, that’s what I relied on to stay warm: two pair of flannel pajama bottoms, jeans, two under armor cold gear shirts, a sweatshirt, a long sleeve t-shirt, an Antwaan Randle El jersey, a winter coat, two pair of socks, gloves, hat and a scarf.

For the most part it was a success, but by the end of the third quarter my feet started to feel like rocks. Was it worth it? In a word: Hell yes (okay, two words). If for only to see Rashard Mendenhall’s new twist to the victory formation (no matter how many times I watch it I keep asking myself: “did he really just do that?”), or watch as half of the Steelers ran around the field as time expired like hyperactive six-year olds with their arms extended.

On to the highlights…

– During pregame warmups the scoreboard camera found a picture of Myron Cope hanging from the stands and the stadium went crazy. Seeing as how Sunday would have been his 82nd birthday, the Steelers made sure to honor Myron during the game and played this video of him talking about the Terrible Towel.

– I honestly thought the crowd was louder during the Baltimore game the previous week, but Sunday certainly had its deafening moments. When William Gay picked up that loose ball and returned it for a touchdown I was pretty sure the stadium was going to come down.

This was the third AFC Championship game I’ve attended, with the first two being the 2004 game against the Patriots and the 2008 game against the Ravens. If you asked me to rank them the ’08 game would still be No. 1, while the ’04 game comes in a distant third. As hectic as the second half on Sunday was, it still doesn’t touch the Ravens game. That game was tight and close from start to finish, one of the most brutally physical football games I’ve ever watched, and Baltimore actually had the football with five minutes to play with a chance to win the game. As JJ pointed out during the latest Steelers Lounge Podcast, the Jets at no point had the football in the second half in a situation where they could take the lead.

Still, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t intense in the fourth quarter. After seeing another safety directly in front of us late in the game there was more than a little deja vu going on. Then New York made it 24-19 with three minutes to play and shit was about to hit the fan. My brother kept telling me the Steelers were in complete control, but for as calm as he tried to play it, I looked over at him before the third-and-six completion to Antonio Brown and you could tell he was just as nervous as anybody else.

– One of my favorite highlights of the night: Right before Shaun Suisham’s field goal made it 10-0, Heath Miller was blocking Jets linebacker David Harris and Miller completely destroyed him. He pushed him at least eight yards backwards and never quit or let up. It was like watching one of those national geographic specials where the Lion hunts down and mauls a small animal. The whole time this was going on the crowd was doing the “HEEEEEATH” chant as if he caught a pass.

– Another favorite highlight: Santonio Holmes catching a first down pass with his team down 24-3, then watching him extend his arm, drop the ball, and stand there for at least 10 seconds. Look. At. The. Scoreboard. Seriously, he’s an excellent player and a large part of Steelers history, but after hearing him throw his coaching staff under the bus following the game, and after watching him pull stunts like that when his team is down three touchdowns in a Conference Championship game, I don’t miss this guy. At all.

– Can’t say there were many problems in the stands in terms of fights or drunken chaos, at least not from where I was sitting. I do know they cut beer sales off earlier than normal, so that may have played a small role. Also in play: it was too damn cold to drink. Ton of Jets fans, and, again, didn’t see many issues (then again, I wasn’t sitting near that Fireman Ed douchebag). We did talk to a guy before kickoff that caught a bus at 3 a.m. and rode into town for the game. He commented on how he was in New England the previous week and that their fans were jerks, and that he had been treated very well so far in Pittsburgh. So that’s nice. That was also two hours before the festivities started, so I’m not sure how the rest of his night played out.

– My camera’s memory card ran out of space so I didn’t get many pictures or video of the post-game celebration, but I will say this: I have no idea what Mike Tomlin screamed with the trophy in his hands, but I do approve of the fact he treated it like a WWE event. And speaking of the trophy, what the hell did the NFL do to that thing? The new design is a rather large fail.

– Martina McBride sang the National Anthem, while actor/comedian Billy Gardell was on hand to start the weekly Terrible Towel waive. Also in attendance (and performing his song Black and Yellow): Pittsburgh’s own Wiz Khalifa. OK, I can’t lie, I had never heard of this guy until about three weeks ago even though he’s a local guy and apparently some sort of big deal. Whatever. My musical interests are still firmly planted in the Flaming Lips and The Ramones and I have no real interest in changing that.

– During the post-game celebration Hines Ward actually climbed into the stands, while a number of players went around the lower level high-fiving fans. Pretty cool thing to see.

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  • Boss Steeler Chick

    Mike Tomlin was asked something about how they got there [winning the AFC Championship] and what he said was, “We have the greatest fans in the world. Steeler Nation, this is for you!” Hoists trophy. My fan club went nuts.

  • Canadian Steeler

    I hate letting the guy get under my skin and giving him the time of day, but man, Marshall Faulk may be infecting the entire NFL Network crew. Warren Sapp was just on with Torry Holt, arguing if Ben was an underrated quarterback.

    Sapp argued statistics, which is fine, but when Holt brought up Ben’s two rings having to count for something, Sapp replied something along the lines of (paraphrasing) “Marshall always points out that he was 9/22 in that first game, so is it really two rings he earned?”

    Again, I hate to let it get to me, but come on. Ben was fantastic in those playoffs. That game against Denver is probably in his top 3 playoff games. He absolutely massacred the Colts defense to start off that 2nd round game. The argument that a player needs to play well, or have a big statistical day in order to “deserve” a ring is absolutely ludicrous. In no way shape or form am I condemning Troy, but he’s yet to have a big Superbowl, and it’s not as if people are saying the same thing about him.

    I really like Eisen and Mariucci, and even Deion’s entertaining, but it’s a shame that Faulk’s apparent hatred for our team is gonna make me watch FOX or ESPN pre-Superbowl shows, which are IMO inferior.

    • Canadian Steeler

      To be more specific, here’s the video, at about 2:20. Marshall calls it 1 1/2 rings.

      Sorry if the rant detracts from your article Adam, great job as always. I got to attend my first Steelers game this year, so since then I look forward to these articles as I can relate a bit more.

    • RoB D

      Bradshaw got the same treatment for years (during and after his career) NOw the majority of people seem to be unable to look past his 4 freaking rings for some

      Ben won’t ever get the accolades of even someone like Rivers. It’s a fantasy football driven world now and you need big stats to compete. Being on a great team hurts Ben. If he was passing for 350 yds every week with a bad team, he’d be right there in the conversation. For now. you can call him Mr.Clutch. That’s my lame nickname for him. It drives everyone around me crazy but you know what? That’s who he is.

      He should get cut a ton of slack (and CREDIT) for being a 2nd year player and winning a Super Bowl. People forget the 3 games leading up to the 05 Bowl. Cincy, Indy, Denver all on the road. He was terrific. Less terrific in the SB but he made several gigantic plays in that one. Just like he always does in big games.

      I wouldn’t worry about Faulk. When you keep showing up in Super Bowls..they start to think maybe you aren’t a half bad

  • Anonymous

    If you have to dress up in that many layers you should probably go with the Staley jersey over the Randle El.

  • SteelerBill

    Coupla items here….does anyone have a video of Hines in the crowd? I’d love to see it…..

    Also, Adam I was curious as to whether the game last week was louder – because it was pretty damn loud throughout…although on TV this game sounded pretty loud.

    Marshall Faulk also said last week prior to the Jets/Pats game that if the Steelers played the Jets that the Jets would ‘pound the Steelers’ by running the football and not allowing LeBeau to run his ‘fancy defense’.

    Jim Wexell pointed out over at that the anti-Steeler bias was pretty evident on CBS with with Boomer and Shannon Sharpe…..

    • ryan

      The difference is that Boomer is from NY and he has a daily radio show there. He’s also been on the “Sanchez has turned a corner” bandwagon for a couple weeks. I’m fine with that brand of homerism because we do the same thing. And last week, Sharpe said “My head tells me Pittsburgh but my heart tells me Baltimore,” so it’s not like he refuses to admit that the Steelers aren’t the 2008 Lions.

      Faulk, on the other hand, appears to have a bug up his ass about the Steelers for god knows why. Whatever. The guy’s an assclown. That’s on him.

  • countertorque

    “Another favorite highlight: Santonio Holmes catching a first down pass with his team down 24-3, then watching him extend his arm, drop the ball, and stand there for at least 10 seconds. Look. At. The. Scoreboard.”

    Yeah, my thoughts exactly. Congrats on getting a first down, Santonio. That must feel good.

  • David

    Faulk is a poon. Irvin is an idiot. Sapp, well, is a sap.

    But all this comes from winning, and a great franchise.

    Collinsworth says Cincy would have won it all if not for Palmer’s knee.
    SEA cries, yes, still cries bloody murder about XL.
    It was claimed Santonio’s foot wasn’t down on the TD.
    Allen wasn’t held on the PR vs. the Raisins.
    No RTP on Silverback when Sanchez slid.

    Take it all with a grain of salt, if that. Don’t feed the trolls. We can all think of just as many gripes that didn’t go in our favor. But guess what, good teams overcome these and win.