There's no place like home

Steelers fans were at a fever pitch on Saturday during the AFC Divisional Playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens, so it's no wonder the players are happy the AFC Championship game will be at Heinz Field in front of those same fans.

"We have the best fans in America," said cornerback William Gay. "It's going to be fun. I know they are fired up. It's going to be exciting on Sunday."

The Steelers will host the New York Jets in the Championship game on Sunday, with kickoff at 6:30 p.m.

"It's better to play at home. It's huge," said safety Ryan Clark. "I've never seen our crowd the way it was in the third quarter of last game. I think that was big. We kept them down on the end deep in their own territory, and the crowd really helped us, so we're looking for the same thing this week.

"We're excited man. The fans deserve it. We have the best fans in the world. It would have felt like a home game anyway because we travel so well, but we rather have it here with the black and gold seats."

Defensive end Ziggy Hood is only in his second season, so last week was his first post-season experience. And he loved the atmosphere.

"It was amazing," said Hood. "There was never a dull moment. It was great to go out there and see the Terrible Towels swinging. It just gave you extra motivation to go out there and play even harder. I am looking forward to this week. We are going to give the fans everything we've got."

Clark said that in addition to having the fans on your side, there are also some other advantages to playing at home.

"It's good because you get to do the same routine, going on the road you have to pack up, fly," said Clark. "That's the part of home field advantage that people don't understand. You have the big locker room, not the small one they put you in when you're on the road. So it's just little things that mean a lot as far as a home game goes."


The Jets defeated the Steelers 22-17 on Dec. 19 at Heinz Field and did so with 106 yards total rushing, the most any team has put up against the black and gold this season.

"They ran on us," said defensive end Brett Keisel. "We definitely have to do better against them as far as stopping the run. That's our M.O., that's what we do every week. We have to do that."

The Jets used a combination in the backfield, with LaDainian Tomlinson finishing the game with 46 yards while Shonn Green added 40 yards.

"I would try to run it again," said Clark. "They were successful with it. If you look at them they're running the ball to keep other offenses off the field. When you have a blitzing and attacking type of defense, if you can keep your play count down, if you can keep the number of plays you have to play down, you have your guys fresh and they're able to continue playing hard, continue to run to the ball, continue to pursue. I think that's the way they're looking at it, trying to get back to that 'ground and pound' mantra.

"I know Coach (John) Mitchell, his hair is going to be on fire all week because the d-line, that's all he ever talks about is not giving up running yards. I think if we got bombed on all day he'll be okay, but if they rush for 100, it's going to be trouble."


Playing in the AFC Championship game, with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line, is plenty of motivation for any player. But add on to that playing against a team that beat you at home, and there is a little extra drive there.

"Any time someone beats you in anything you are looking for a way to come back and make it right," said Keisel. "Any time you get hit in the mouth like we did last time we played the Jets, you want to wipe that off and come back swinging."


Linebacker James Harrison and safety Troy Polamalu were named to Pro Football Weekly's and the Professional Football Writers of America All-NFL team. In addition Pouncey was named to the All-Rookie team.

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