View Full Version : Advantage or not, Steelers glad to be home

01-19-2011, 07:23 AM
Advantage or not, Steelers glad to be home
By: Mike Bires
Beaver County Times

Tuesday January 18, 2011 11:49 PM

PITTSBURGH — Home-field advantage in the NFL isn’t always a winning edge, especially in the playoffs. But because Heinz Field was rocking like never before last week, the Steelers are delighted to be hosting the AFC Championship Game.

“I’ve never seen our crowd the way it was in the third quarter of last game,” safety Ryan Clark said of the noise, energy and emotion created by the fans in Saturday’s 31-24 playoff won over the Ravens. “That was big.”

“It was amazing,” added defensive end Ziggy Hood. “It was great to go out there and see all the Terrible Towels swinging. It just gave you extra motivation to go out there and play even harder. I’m looking forward to this week.”

On Sunday, the Steelers (13-4) will be home again when they play the New York Jets (13-5). The odds makers list the Steelers as 3.5-point favorites probably because they’re playing at home.

But so far in the playoffs, home-field advantage hasn’t meant much. In the eight games played, the home team lost five of them.

And it’s the Jets who have been the ultimate road warriors.

Last year with a rookie quarterback, the Jets won a wild-card game and a divisional playoff game on the road before losing in Indianapolis in the AFC Championship Game. This year, the Jets again are winning on the road. Two weeks ago they won a wild-card game in Indianapolis. This past Sunday, they earned a return trip to Pittsburgh by stunning the Patriots in Foxboro.

Still, the Steelers are glad to be playing for the right to go to the Super Bowl at home rather than in New England.

“We enjoy the support of our crowd, but in terms of what goes on inside the white lines, the team that makes the critical plays at the critical moments is going to win,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “Home or away is a factor, but it’s not the ultimate or deciding factor. The Jets have proven that emphatically over the last several weeks.

“(But) we appreciate being at home. If given the choice we’d rather play at Heinz Field in front of our fans. They are a home-field-advantage-worthy kind of a crowd whether we are or not. So we’re going to give them what they have coming to them.”
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Since the NFL/AFL merger in 1970, the Steelers have the NFL’s best regular-season home record with a 72.0 winning percentage.

Since Heinz Field opened in 2001, the Steelers have won 75.0 percent of their home game.

However, the Steelers were 5-3 at home this year and 7-1 on the road. One of the Steelers’ home losses was a 22-17 decision to the Jets on Dec. 19.

And since the 1994 season, the Steelers are only 2-4 in AFC championship games either at Three Rivers Stadium or Heinz Field.

In fact, the Steelers have hosted 10 AFC championships over the years, and they’re only 5-5 in those games.

“It’s better to play at home,” Clark insisted. “It’s good because you get to do the same routine. Going on the road and having to pack up and fly. That’s the part of home-field advantage that people don’t understand. You have the big locker room, not the small one they put you in when you’re on the road. So it’s just little things like that, things like that mean a lot as far as a home game goes.

“We’re excited man,” Clark added. “Our fans deserve it. We have the best fans in the world. (So) we’d rather have it here with the black-and-gold seats.”

In their last two Super Bowl seasons, the Steelers won it all by going two different routes in the playoffs.

In 2005 as a wild-card, they had to win three straight postseason games on the road to the Super Bowl. They did. But in 2008, they had a first-round bye and then hosted a divisional round game and the AFC Championship Game. They won both of those games.

That’s the road they hope to take again.

“It was amazing. It was unbelievable,” center Maurkice Pouncey said of the atmosphere Saturday night as the Steelers beat the Ravens. “Our fans are awesome. To go out there with that energy just for us is crazy.”

“That had to be a legendary game … an instant classic as far as I’m concerned,” Tomlin said. “We anticipate it being a similar environment this weekend, and we’re going to need that support from our fans.”

01-19-2011, 07:32 AM
If I'm not mistaken. The Crowd could have huge impact on Sunday's game. I mean The Steelers said it themselves, The energy of The Crowd is amazing. It gets the team motivated. :tt04: