Giants shouldn't expect the Steelers to lay down the way the Heat did

Al Bello

Defending NBA champion Miami Heat said before their game against the Knicks in New Your Friday the game should have been postponed. The Heat played like they shouldn't be there. The Giants shouldn't expect the Steelers to lay down in a similar fashion.

Giants head coach Tom Coughlin commended the Steelers for doing the "noble" thing by requesting the league allow them to travel to the New York metro area the day of the game - not allowed by league rules - in order to save space and resources for those affected by the destruction of Superstorm Sandy.

The Giants will no doubt be emotionally charged and inspired by the fans who put a whole new meaning on "braving the elements" to make it to MetLife Stadium Sunday. But don't expect the Steelers to bow in wake of that emotion, or their outstanding opponents.

That may not have been true of the Miami Heat, who appeared listless - if not intimidated - at Madison Square Garden Friday, as the Knicks kicked the red out of their logo in a 33-17 first quarter performance.

Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony was lights-out early, perhaps riding the momentum of a fired up crowd, taking a break from the painful reality of what laid outside the walls of the Garden, whipping the Heat 104-84.

The Steelers will have to face perhaps the most difficult crowd they'll play in front of all season - 60,000 fans representing eight million victims. But the Steelers won't bow to the emotional pressure. It's a veteran team in which several starters have played in multiple Super Bowls. The bone-crushing pressure of such an event can prepare them even for the unity of a people in some awful way affected by a natural disaster.

It almost doesn't seem to be about a game anymore. There was some talk about moving the venue - much like what happened to New Orleans in wake of Hurricane Katrina (incidentally, they played the game at The Meadowlands, counting it as a home game for the Saints).

New Orleans, playing as the home team as representatives of a region ravaged by disaster, played their first game in the Superdome after Katrina in Week 3 of the 2006 season. They crushed NFC South rival Atlanta 23-3 en route to a berth in the NFC Championship game.

If the Giants have that kind of energy, the Steelers have an even more difficult task in front of them. This may not be about the same thing for the Steelers (although players like left guard Willie Colon, a New York area product, could have his family and friends cheering for him in the stands), but it still means plenty.

If it's not about providing a time of togetherness for the people who cheer for them week in and week out, they can find motivation in the amount of Steelers fans living in that area. Plenty of them will be among the masses finding their way to MetLife Sunday. They may not be cheering for the home team that day, but their struggles are no less courageous.

This is still a franchise connected globally; not The Decision created Heat. This is a long-standing franchise, not a fly-by-night product of today's easy-route athlete.

The Steelers will stand tall, just like the residents of the Tri-State area. If the Giants beat them, then ok, they'll prepare for the Chiefs the following week.

That's what champions do.


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