The buzz was palpable. It was a perfect September afternoon as Steelers Nation flocked to the North Shore of Pittsburgh for their first look at the Steelers at Heinz Field in 2015. The first real look, anyways, as the preseason hadn't provided many opportunities to see, arguably, the league's top passing duo in Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown, and get a look at the defense under new coordinator Keith Butler.
Judging by the reaction from fans in the stadium and around Steelers Nation, it's safe to say the home opener was a major success on all fronts, as fans came away excited after seeing the offense fly up and down the field and the defense's impressive performance.
It was a day made better for hundreds of fans by Steelers Nation Unite, too – including those who traveled from as far away as Mexico, San Diego and Denmark for the game.
First, there was Patricia Wright and her daughter, Sarah, who were special guests after winning the Steelers Nation Unite 2015 Home Opener Sweepstakes. The pair enjoyed a night out in Pittsburgh on Saturday and then stood on the field as the team came running out for introductions, before proceeding to their seats to watch the victory.
"This is so cool. It's an experience with the Steelers that I would never imagine," said Wright during pregame. "Who would've thought we could see all this?"
There was also Thorbjorn Jensen and his wife, Cecilie, who were attending the game as part of their honeymoon. The fact that they came from Denmark and got to be on Heinz Field to watch warmups and experience the buzz of the game made it even more special.
"I love the Steelers. I've been a fan for the last 10 years. Super Bowl XL made me a fan," said Jensen. "I never thought I would be here. We don't have stadiums like this in Denmark so it's amazing to be in this place."
Photos of fans and Steelers Nation Unite members receiving on-field experiences at the team's 2015 regular-season home opener against the San Francisco 49ers.
Steelers Nation was also represented at the game by 22 fans from Mexico, many of whom were attending their first NFL game and are big Steelers fans.
"Our hope is to bring 33 fans to a game next year, 44 fans the year after that and keep it going," said Federico Lopez- Conde, a member of Steelers Nation Unite who organized the trip.
After traveling over 2,000 miles to get to the game, the group was featured on the scoreboard at Heinz Field during pregame and received this type of recognition for being so dedicated to their team.
That group of fans were not the only ones who came a long way for the game, either. Chris Conjurski and his sons, Gavin, Chandler and Preston, drove across the country from San Diego over the past week. By RSVP'ing to the game, Steelers Nation Unite was able to make their first trip to the Steel City even more memorable.
"It made these boys and our trip. We were just happy to come see the Steelers and then Steelers Nation Unite helped us out. It's the experience of a lifetime and we'll never forget it," said Conjurski.
The recognition and rewards aren't solely in the stadium, either. For following along and connecting on social media during games, members can get rewarded with prizes, including Terrible Towels and gift cards for the Steelers Pro Shop – World Headquarters at shop.steelers.com.
Steelers Nation Unite provides recognition for all Steelers fans around the world as a way of saying 'Thank You' to Steelers Nation for their unending loyalty and dedication.
To join for free and get recognized as an official member of Steelers Nation, visit www.SteelersNationUnite.com now and start connecting with the Steelers and Steelers fans everywhere.