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Steelers players talk about the Heinz Field crowd during their win over the Lions

The Steelers hadn’t played in front of a crowd of that size since 2019, and players appreciated the excitement and enthusiasm.

NFL: Detroit Lions at Pittsburgh Steelers Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers, as well as almost every NFL team, is having to get used to fans in seats again after the 2020 season. During the team’s 26-20 win over the Detroit Lions Saturday night in Week 2 of the NFL Preseason there were 45,374 fans in attendance at Heinz Field.

The largest crowd at the venue for a football game since the 2019 season, and the players both recognized, and acknowledged, the fans who were in attendance.

“I’m super excited about it, the fans have been crazy.” Joe Haden said of the environment at Heinz Field. “Ever since when we started off with the warm-ups just having them out here the energy, their passion, you could tell how excited they are to be out here and we’re just excited to have them out here.”

Haden wasn’t alone in his appreciation just to have Steelers Nation back in those gold seats at the big ketchup bottle.

“It’s been almost a year since the injury, and the only thing that put me at ease was the fans.” Zach Banner said of his first in-game experience as a starter at Heinz Field. “I don’t say that to burst their bubble, I say that to let them know how much they truly mean to us and myself. Coming out of the tunnel, hearing them roar, and had the two great series because of it.”

How loud were the fans Saturday night? Loud enough for players to forget it was a preseason game.

“It was exciting because they did the noise meter on the jumbotron, and the crowd got pretty loud.” Diontae Johnson noted. “It was exciting to feel that energy and have them back makes the game feel real.”

For the rookies, it was a completely different experience for the young guys.

“It was cool man, excitement everywhere.” First round pick Najee Harris recalled. “I don’t know what I was going to do though, because they told me to just stand on the wall, and I said okay. They called our names, and the dude was like, “hey, stand on the wall” and I was like “what are we doing,” and I see him jumping around. They were calling our starting offense. He said “Najee [Harris]”, and then I said, “what am I doing?” He shook my hand and said, “it’s good to see you too,” and then they called my name and then I ran out there. It was cool.”

The experience was such that even the veterans were talking to the young players about what a regular season environment will resemble.

“They were just saying “I can tell how lit the season’s going to be because this is a preseason game and the fans are crazy, it’s super loud out here.”” Joe Haden said. “I’m like this isn’t nothing just wait until the season comes, so they love it already.”

The Steelers won’t be back to Heinz Field until their Week 2 game vs. the Las Vegas Raiders, but you can safely say the players can’t wait to play in front of a packed house for their home opener.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the 2021 regular season.