Instead of my usual “Top 5″ Wednesday article I thought it would be fun to write about my trip up to Phoenix over the weekend. So hit the “Continue Reading” button if you are interested in a first-hand perspective of the game itself and a few personal anecdotes about the game-day experience as well:
As a life-long Steeler fan that has lived my entire life up to this point in California, Colorado, Arizona, and Hawai’i, my chances to watch the Steelers play have been few and far between. Thus, until this past weekend I had never seen my all-time favorite professional sports franchise play a game in person.
Yet last Saturday I got a call from my Sister who said that her fiancee had scored some cheap yet awesome (10th row!) tickets for the Steelers vs. Cardinals game the following day. It took me all of a millisecond to give her my answer, and I began to get stoked for the trip up to Phoenix.
So early the next morning my brother in law and I made the hour and a half trek up to Phoenix from Tucson to see the mighty Steelers take on the hapless Cardinals. The car ride was filled with our usual conversation and banter about who needed to step up big for the Steelers (Woodley), who needed to get the ball more (Redman, Big Heath), and what it would take to stop the Cardinals (stopping Fitzgerald and the inside passing game as a whole).
When we got up to Phoenix, I saw Steeler fans taking over Glendale. This almost “home” game (the stadium is in Glendale) that day made for a real gnarly environment for my brother in law and I to watch the game. I was even more excited as we headed into the stadium because we were sitting in the thick of “Steeler Country” right in the middle of the visitors’ fans sideline section. Quite a bit of the crowd was sporting black and yellow, and the stadium roared with every positive play the visiting Steelers made!
When Clark picked off that tipped pass on the opening drive of the game, the place went freaking crazy and the theme of me “high-fiving complete and total strangers at what just happened” began. Probably my favorite part of the fanfare and cheering was whenever Heath Miller caught a pass the entire stadium echoed “HEATH!” just like I had heard so many times on t.v.! I yell “HEATH!” every time he makes a catch when I’m at home so getting a chance to do it for real and at a game was really fun! I probably lost my voice because of all the times I shouted the name of my favorite player with so much gusto that day.
Probably the most jaw-droppingly awesome moment of the game was being able to witness Mike Wallace’s 95 yard TD reception. I figured Arians would just play it conservative on 1st and 15 at the Steeler 5, but boy was I wrong. Just watching Wally run under that pass and then streak towards the end of the field we were sitting on with his sub 4.3 speed was nothing short of a thing of beauty. I’ll never forget yelling “WALLY! WALLY! WALLY!” from the moment he caught the ball until he crossed the goal line! To me, that play illustrated why Wallace is one of the Top 5 WR’s in the game right now. If teams don’t respect Mike’s speed, they could be in for a long day if Ben has any sort of time to throw the football.
Things got a tad uncomfortable after Stephens-Howling’s TD catch and run where Farrior was completely and totally burned. At that point in the 3rd Quarter, Arizona had the momentum, and up only 17-14 the Steelers needed to finish the game and exercise the demons from the Jacksonville game. I was lucky enough to be there to witness the Steelers stepping up to finish the Cardinals off.
Watching Ben carve the Cardinals’ Defense and Heath, A.B., and Manny come up with huge catches on the drive that made the score 24-14 was magnificent. That 11 play 80 yard drive which ate up more than 5:30 was just fun to watch as a football fan, and as a Steelers fan in general. Every time they needed a big play, something happened and the ball bounced the Steelers’ way. Ben was especially nifty on his TD thrown to Manny. On that play Ben displayed why he is such a threat on the move and his receivers are so good at making things happen if things don’t go according to plan.
Another thing about the game I found amusing was when my brother in law and I agreed that I should be nitpicking and questioning Woodley every week on this site if he responds as well to negative criticism as he is doing now! I was making the Safety signal with the rest of the crowd when Kolb threw that ball away in the end zone after Woodley provided sufficient (yet unblocked) pressure. 2.0 sacks are a nice way to show your fans that you are back after two solid outings LaMarr. Keep up the good work.
Despite me enjoying every aspect of last Sunday’s experience, there was one moment that really stuck out to me which makes me proud to be a card-carrying member of Steeler Nation. When the game was winding down and the Cardinals fans were leaving, the only red that remained in the stadium came from the empty seats. Yet almost all of us on the visitors sideline and Steeler fans peppered throughout the crowd stayed to the bitter end showing support for our favorite team. Don’t believe me, check the picture beside this paragraph.
To make the moment even better, the Steeler players headed towards the stands after the game, whooped up the win, and really showed support for those that had came to the game. To me, the players showing their appreciation to all of the fans that had come out to support them on the road really was the “icing on the cake” of a great game.
After the game my brother in law and I didn’t want to leave yet so we decided to look for more to do around the stadium before heading home. There is a mall and shopping center in Glendale outside of the football stadium and the Phoenix Coyotes hockey arena so my brother in law and I decided to go to a piano bar and restaurant that he had been to before in that same shopping center. Still stoked about the game, my brother in law and I chipped in a few bucks and we paid the guys on the pianos and a singer to sing “Renegade” to celebrate the Steelers’ dominating victory! I’ll post the video I took up on the Facebook site for N.P.C. for those of you that are interested.
As a life-long Steeler fan that has just attended his first game I must say that the game as a whole and what it represented to me as a football fan was nothing short of fantastic. To me, attending this game and having the luxury of seeing the Steelers win is all that mattered. Sure I could discuss my misgivings about the Steelers lack of a running game until the end of the contest, or Farrior and Foote not doing well (as always) in pass coverage, but for that one fine day and for the rest of my life I could honestly care less. One of the highest things was checked off of my bucket list thanks to my brother in law, and it’s something that I will always be indebted to him for.
The drive back home was one of complete and total happiness for me. I didn’t care that I had to work a 12 hour shift that started at 7:00 A.M. the next day, or the fact that my voice was gone because of all the yelling that my fellow Steeler maniacs and I did all game long. I had probably one of the greatest days of my entire life and nothing could or would bring me down. I hope all of you enjoyed my recap of my day up in Phoenix and hopefully I’ll be attending another Steeler game in the near future.
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