As I looked over this week’s blogs, I noted that my colleagues have pretty much covered the important aspects about this weekend’s game. However, I couldn’t help but think about how the weather might be a factor. Not so much the weather during the game, but the weather over the last week.
The Steelers will face the NY Giants in the shadow of the devastation Hurricane Sandy caused in many parts of New Jersey and New York. The game schedule is uninterrupted, but don’t think the players aren’t dealing with emotional impacts. So one has to wonder, will these emotions be a plus or a minus for either team? Yes, these men play the game for a living and can’t afford to let emotions from outside the game get in the way. But, let’s be real for a minute.
The NY Giants players and staff just went through a horrific experience where, for some, the safety of their family was at stake. For some of those players, they will be able to take that energy and use it in the game and perform at a high level. Motivation, no matter where it comes from, is a key factor for teams to keep their energy high and focused. Conversely though, some players may be dealing with damage to their homes and perhaps their focus may be off. The Giants adjusted practice times this week due to the storm and its impact on travel. This break in routine could throw off the players who perhaps had less time to prepare for the Steelers, a team they play infrequently.
The Steelers’s normal routine is also disrupted. Due to a power outage at the New Jersey hotel where the Steelers were supposed to stay, the Steelers are now traveling on game day. This isn’t a long flight and they stay within the same time zone, but it breaks the routine and perhaps affects the pre-game preparations. The game isn’t until 4:25 pm and the Steelers will be in New Jersey well before game time, but things could feel out of sync. The Steelers just seemed to be getting a rhythm going that lastest for the whole game, so hopefully the change doesn’t impact their ability to keep it going.
So, do the Giants have something to play for that will energize them and give them an edge over the Steelers? Maybe. Do the Steelers have the benefit of have regular practices this week and the normal amount of preparation time? Maybe. I think it will be obvious fairly early in the game if either team is out of sync. Sandy will be a handy scapegoat if either side does not play well.
However, in the end, this is a game and pales in comparison to what has happened to the surrounding area. The jaw-dropping pictures and stories just keep coming and probably will through the weekend. If this game had been postponed, I would have understood. But, I kind of wish they had brought it to Heinz Field. I guess it will be interesting to see how Ben Roethlisberger does in this stadium with its swirling winds. The “dink and dunk” offense may be the best thing for this stadium. I hope the game is a diversion for the Giants fans, but I’m still rooting for the Steelers to win.