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The Steelers may own the road, but what happened to the home field advantage?

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After Steelers fans took over their game in the desert last week, home-field advantage was overtaken by a sea of blue at Heinz Field

Buffalo Bills v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

It was possibly the Steelers biggest game of the 2019 season. With a chance to all but lock up a playoff position and move up into the fifth seed, the Pittsburgh Steelers hosted the Buffalo Bills at Heinz Field in a game which was flexed to Sunday Night Football because of its importance.

To show how much this game meant to Steelers’ Nation, the team chose to wore their color rush uniforms for a second time in 2019. The Steelers did the same thing in Week 15 of last season as they were victorious over the New England Patriots. With a 5–0 record in these uniforms, players even called for fans to dress all in black for a full stadium “black out.”

Unfortunately, there was just too much red and blue to have the full affect.

I have been attending multiple Steelers’ games per season since 2013 and I’ve been a season ticket holder since 2015. Last night, I attended the Steelers game with BTSC’s Bryan Anthony Davis. As I took in Heinz Field in all of its glory, I said to Bryan during the game, “I’ve never seen this many opposing fans in the stadium.”

I don’t know what fans at home experienced over the television as I did not have a desire to dive into the replay when I returned home at 5 AM. When I was in my seats in section 122, there were some Bills fans around me. I would say it was more than normal, but not a ratio that made me feel I was not in the majority. But looking over the stadium, there were a lot more opposing colors than I had ever seen.

My brother was sitting in section 525. After the game, he gave me the report: They were vastly outnumbered.

There were several other indications which showed how much the Buffalo Bills fans made the 3.5 hour drive down to Pittsburgh in hopes their team could clinch only their second playoff berth since 1999. First, the numerous chants of “Let’s go Buffalo!” both before, during, and after the game were much more animated and extensive than any “Here we go Steelers, here we go!” It was possible that perhaps the number of fans from Buffalo were just louder than the typical visiting team. Bills fans were excited, and deservedly so. But in the key moments of the fourth quarter when the Steelers offense was attempting to tie the game, the amount of noise in the stadium was obvious.

When the game was over, many Bills fans made their way down to the visitor side lines, across the end zone, and around the tunnel where the visiting team returns to their locker room. It was a site unlike I’ve never seen at Heinz Field. I know Steelers’ fans have taken over other stadiums quite often, but to see another team do so to such an extent at Heinz Field was eye-opening.

I’m not exactly sure how so many Bills fans got their hands on tickets to see their team clinch a playoff spot. Perhaps they grabbed them early in the off-season when many Steeler fans felt this was one of several games that may not be very competitive. But with the plethora of injuries the Steelers have faced in 2019 along with the Bills over performing their projected results, the game ended up being quite the opposite.

Perhaps Steelers’ fans saw the rising value of tickets as an opportunity to get some extra cash this holiday season. Or perhaps it was just yet another prime time game in Pittsburgh in which fans felt there was too much going on in December to balance the cold, late night versus their busy schedules. I admit, I wavered for some time to see if I could make the trip to Heinz Field for yet another night game this time of year. Ultimately, I decided to go. Perhaps this was not the case for many fans.

Regardless, the Steelers were put in a surprising environment at Heinz Field. But it wasn’t the number of blue and red jerseys in the stands which led to five turnovers or only 15 rushing attempts in the game. Ultimately, it was the players on the field which came up short. As disappointing as it was to see a Heinz Field crowd not in its typical representation, the Steelers’ squandered opportunities on the field is where the real disappointment lies.

Congratulations to the Buffalo Bills and their fans. You traveled well. You had a lot of energy. And you punched your post season ticket. Perhaps you can find your first playoff win since 1995. It’s been a long streak of postseason defeats which dates back over 20 years. A streak which began by falling in the divisional round of the 1995 postseason to…

The Pittsburgh Steelers.

I just couldn’t help myself.