"These Steelers fans are unbelievable."
That was said by ESPN analyst Jon Gruden during the network's broadcast of the Steelers-Chargers game on Monday night. It came right after CB Antwon Blake made a house call on a 70-yard pick-six that sent at least half the stadium into an absolute frenzy.
That's not an exaggeration, either. It was a sea of gold Terrible Towels that dominated the landscape inside Qualcomm Stadium. The same thing happened when Mike Vick connected on a 72-yard bomb to Markus Wheaton, and the "HEEEATH" calls may have shook the very foundation of the stadium.
It didn't compare, though, to the reaction when Le'Veon Bell scored the game-winning touchdown, and then again when it was announced that the call stood. Although, the echoes of Steelers Nation rejoicing around the world after the walk-off win may have added to the noise level. There's no doubt that the support and passion of Steelers fans around the world was felt in San Diego Monday night.
Things started with a bang for fans at the Steelers party at Bub's Dive Bar on Sunday night, the popular bar for Steelers fans in the San Diego area.
Steelers Nation Unite, the team's official loyalty program, brought Hall of Famer and Steelers legend Dermontti Dawson for a special meet-and-greet with the more than 400 Steelers fans who showed up to get ready for game day. Dawson came away impressed.
"It's phenomenal the amount of Steelers fans that are here," said Dawson. "I was here before 7 o'clock and it's now after 9, there were people lined up outside the door waiting to get in then, and there are still people lined up now waiting to get in. It's phenomenal the following the Steelers have here in San Diego and the amount of fans that are here tonight."
The excitement from Sunday carried right on into Monday, as swarms of Steelers fans tailgated before kickoff.
"It's amazing. Look around. There are Steelers fans everywhere," said Mike Bishop of Portland OR, commenting on the nearly 600 people gathered at a tailgate hosted by Bub's. "When you've got the best team ever in the NFL, you've got to love it. There are two types of fans – Steelers fans and jealous fans."
Pennsylvania-native and current San Diegan Trista Maccini echoed those feelings. For many of the thousands of Steelers fans in attendance, it's a special event when the Steelers make a trip out West.
"It's pretty euphoric," she said when talking about the feelings that seeing so many fans gave her.
Before the game, Bishop, who has been to games in San Francisco and Seattle, in addition to Pittsburgh, was excited for what was to come inside the stadium. He was pretty spot on with his crowd prediction, too, for his first game in San Diego.
"I don't see much yellow. I see a lot of black and gold," he said before the game. "This is my first time here. I'm going to guess it's going to be 50/50 – at least on noise."
He wasn't the only fan thinking Steelers Nation was primed for another takeover, either, as conversations all around the stadium and on social media expressed admiration for this fan base.
Shoutouts from Steelers players on social media followed the game. The impact of the fans was so powerful, that Head Coach Mike Tomlin complimented Steelers fans before talking about the game in his postgame press conference.
"First I would like to thank Steelers Nation. How about the support that we had in the building tonight? We get that type of support just about all of the time when we're on the road, but it doesn't get old," said Tomlin. "We really appreciate it. I'd be remiss if I didn't tip the cap to Steelers Nation first and foremost."
It was a special night, capped off with a thrilling victory and the perfect sight of Steelers Nation waving their towels and crowding behind the Steelers bench area until the last player headed into the locker room.
Another job well done for Steelers Nation.
Steelers Nation Unite is the team's officially loyalty program, which recognizes fans as official members of Steelers Nation. Signing up is totally free and members get opportunities to interact directly with the team and get rewarded all year long from wherever they follow the Steelers.
Just visit www.SteelersNationUnite.com to join for free now.
Photos of Steelers Nation Unite members and events from the team's trip to San Diego to play the Chargers.