Week XIX: Have Faith in the Steelers

January 15th, 2005

Week XIX: Have Faith in the Steelers

This past Sunday, I witnessed a football game that was so emotionally exhausting that days later, I could barely recount the tale. I am still in a state of shock, barely able to believe what I witnessed with my own eyes. When NY Jets kicker Doug Brien had a chance to put the Jets ahead, I couldn’t bear to watch. In that one moment, the amount of terrific disappointment was too much to bear. As I turned to face the crowd of fans behind me I watched their faces. Suddenly frowns turned into cheers and hope was restored. Miracles were delivered. Prayers were answered. What was worse was that we had to endure that see-saw of emotion TWICE. Yes, Brien got yet another chance to steal a victory for the Jets, and he missed that one too. On to overtime.

In front of me sat a long-haired man, dressed in a robe, holding a sign stating, “Have faith in the Steelers.” Inside Heinz Field everyone was praying. Outside the stadium, in homes and bars all over the country, Steelers fans were sending hexes to make Brien miss. I’m not sure what great power intervened, but maybe the collective will of fans everywhere altered the course of history, giving Jeff Reed the opportunity to kick the winning field goal in overtime. What an emotional rollercoaster. What a great day to be a Steelers fan.

Earlier that morning, when fans were stuck in gridlock waiting to park, nobody knew what kind of game was coming. And It seemed like any other day, very cold, sunny, and full of Steeler spirit. There was no place I would have rather been that day.

I made my usual rounds in the parking lots, but didn’t get to see all everyone I wanted to. Visiting with friends I’d met over the course of the season, I sampled their grub and brew to keep warm but kept moving. I never know when this 16-1 ride is going to come to an end so I just keep trucking, taking as many photographs as possible.

I had a different motive this week because a camerawoman from WQED-TV followed me around for a few hours. Documenting me documenting fans. Security detail was increased to control the crowd, which as you all know, can be very rowdy in the face of a television camera. Alone, I seldom see such craziness. I usually get asked, “Are you going to put me on the front page of the paper?” And when I respond that I do not work for any newspaper, we usually return to pleasant conversation. It was fun though. The Footage from this week will be aired on WQED-TV’s program OnQ Magazine, probably on Monday January 24 at 7:30PM.

Back to the game. It was very hard to keep our spirits up during the last few minutes of the forth quarter, but we did raise our voice for the defense when they needed it. And the defense kept us alive. Without their stand, it could have been a shorter kick, or even a touchdown. Thanks Big Nasty D. We owe you one.

The Steelers now face the New England Patriots again. And after the narrow win over the Jets, the Steelers are again the underdog. So while the offense shakes off last week, remember how the battle with the Patriots ended. We can and we must win. Have faith that we will find a way. We found a way to win sixteen times this season.

I’d also like to see the The Bus head to Jacksonville. It’s warm and sunny there.

Final Outcome: Steelers beat NY Jets 20-17
Steelers advance to AFC Championship game.

***Special Note: The New York Times published an article on January 17, 2005 titled “Lord Knows, Steelers and Fans Were Praying for Brien to Miss” by Lee Jenkins. Below is the Photograph they included on the print version.

PITTSBURGH – JANUARY 15: Fans show their support as the New York Jets were defeated in overtime against the Pittsburgh Steelers in an AFC divisional game at Heinz Field on January 15, 2005 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Steelers defeated the Jets 20-17 in overtime. ( Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
(Kevin Sweeney is on the left)

Week XIX: Have Faith in the Steelers

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