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SteelrsRck 10-26-2005 09:44 AM

Road Games vs Home Games
Heinz Field has become losing ground for Steelers
Wednesday, October 26, 2005

By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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Ah, home, bittersweet, home.

Since the Steelers left Three Rivers Stadium for Heinz Field in 2001, they've flourished there except in two instances: The AFC championship game and the Year 2005.

They've won a club-record 10 consecutive games on the road, but they've lost three of their past four at Heinz Field. Even coach Bill Cowher admitted they need to show the same intensity for home games as they do on the road.

"When you go on the road, you know that your energy has to be higher because you're going to have to fight the elements and match the energy level of the home team," Cowher said yesterday. "We've had that bull's-eye on our chests for a while now. The other thing is, you have to have greater focus. Maybe we have not played that way at home."

The Steelers ran their record to 3-0 on the road this season with a victory Sunday in Cincinnati, and now return to try to reconquer their DDGrassMaster turf Monday night at Heinz Field against the Baltimore Ravens.

Before the AFC championship game Jan. 23, the Steelers were 27-8-1 in Heinz Field in the playoffs and postseason. But the New England Patriots beat them in Heinz Field for the second time in four seasons in the AFC title game and it hasn't been the same place since. The Steelers won their opener at home, trouncing Tennessee, 34-7, but have since lost their past two, to the Patriots and the Jacksonville Jaguars, one by three points and one in overtime.

The Steelers are testing the maxim that to become a playoff team you must win at home and play .500 on the road. Although he defends his team's home record overall, Cowher believes, psychologically, the Steelers might count on too much when they play at home.

"Maybe we show up and think we can get the energy from the fans and we have that edge," Cowher said. "But we need to go in there playing with that edge. This isn't about going on the road; it's about playing at home. We lost our last two football games at home and that's disappointing."

Ravens coach Brian Billick irked Cowher when he said, after beating the Steelers in Heinz Field in 2001, that his team had never lost in Pittsburgh (they were 3-0). Since then, Billick's Ravens haven't won here. Starting with a playoff game after the '01 season, Baltimore is 0-4 at Heinz Field.

"This has got to be a place that people don't like to come in here and play," Cowher said. "We have to make it be that way and not just assume that will take place just by showing up."

No Bill Cowher team has lost a Monday night home game. The Steelers are 10-0 under Cowher at home on Monday night and 19-5 at home in the 36-year history of "Monday Night Football."

"I don't care whether it's Monday night, Sunday afternoon, Sunday night or whatever it may be," Cowher said. "We need to come out with that same type of focus and energy and apply it. We can't just assume that just because we're playing at home that it will just be there."

The Steelers went 8-0 at home last season and squeaked past the New York Jets, 20-17, in overtime in the playoffs to run their winning streak at Heinz Field to 11 in a row. But then came the Patriots and another AFC championship game loss at home. It was their fourth AFC title game loss at home since the 1994 season, prompting many to wonder if the Steelers might not be better off playing an AFC championship game on the road.

Given his choice, Cowher prefers home games and he won't change any of the routine leading up to them.

"There's nothing to change," he said. "We lost two tough games. We were 8-0 a year ago. Let's not overreact to it. Those were two tough games that we lost at home."

The Steelers have a recent history of playing better on the road than at home in certain seasons under Cowher.

In 2002, they were virtually even, winning five games at home and five on the road, with a tie at home the only difference. In '01, they won seven at home and six on the road. In 2000, they won five on the road and just four at home. In 1999, they played like a playoff team on the road at 4-4 but slumped to 2-6 at home.

Cowher still believes that a team has to win at home to make a run for the playoffs.

"That's the way it is in the National Football League right now and those are the games you have to win. That's going to be the difference when it's all said and done."

Koopa 10-26-2005 11:35 AM

Re: Road Games vs Home Games
well one lose at home wasn't the teams fault it was that waste of life tommy maddox that lost it. if big ben was in there it would've been a totally different game. and i guarantee you we would've came out on top

Iron City Hangover 10-26-2005 11:58 AM

Re: Road Games vs Home Games

Originally Posted by KingKoopa
well one lose at home wasn't the teams fault it was that waste of life tommy maddox that lost it. if big ben was in there it would've been a totally different game. and i guarantee you we would've came out on top

All that matters is getting to January and letting the D take over. Having a "great" record at home only motivates visiting teams more to be "that team" that caused the blemish on your record.

BlitzburghRockCity 10-26-2005 01:42 PM

Re: Road Games vs Home Games
As long as we make the playoffs, I dont care home or away !!! We just gotta do it !!!! Period !!

JerseySTEEL 10-26-2005 02:31 PM

Re: Road Games vs Home Games
In my eyes it doesnt matter how our record at home is, look at last year we went undefeated at home then in the champ game we lose at home. So its better to have a reason to try and win at home then to expect to win since u have done all season.

OX1947 10-26-2005 03:09 PM

Re: Road Games vs Home Games
We are a slight knee bruise and a latteral mistake from being 6-0. Seriously. If Ben had been in the JAX game, we would have rolled all over that team and had Randel El not made his mistake, we would have probably scored a TD on that drive, we had so much momentem and made the score 17-7 and 94-1-1 when up by 10 or more, I would have to think we would have pulled it out.

Hell, we made two mistake, the idiot not falling on the ball in the JAX game and the latteral. Two mistakes cost us two games. Its not like we got ran over like the PAts seem to do every other week.

Iron City Hangover 10-26-2005 03:19 PM

Re: Road Games vs Home Games
It's not what you did yesterday but what you do today and tomorrow that determines your fate. See you in January.

SteelR1 10-26-2005 07:10 PM

Re: Road Games vs Home Games

Playoff bound is the most important thing!!!!

soniczilla 10-26-2005 09:09 PM

Re: Road Games vs Home Games
Yea, I don't understand why such a big deal is being made out of losing at home. Both games were EXTREMELY close and the Jaguars loss... well, we all know why that happened!

BlitzburghRockCity 10-26-2005 09:18 PM

Re: Road Games vs Home Games
The Steelers have always been reliable and usually win at home, only this year has it been alittle different so all the media is in an uproar... if you cant win on the road, u cant win in the we're ok.

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