After crushing the Texans on the road, one of the biggest games of the year lie in wait. The AFC Championship rematch vs. New England. This would be a long one. I've always liked the idea of a 4:15 pm start on the East Coast - it's a good way to get the crowd extra juiced up. More time to drink translates into a more hostile environment. Not that the Steeler fans need extra motivation against the Patriots. Of course, this was a big one - nationally televised and highly anticipated. We were 2-0. The Pats were 1-1 and desparate to avoid a 1-2 start.
I picked up the crowd at the Angel around 11am. They all had a few drinks and we rolled up. The limo was packed for this one. We got to the lot and one of the occupants (the older brother of Jason Wilson) asked me if I had a ticket for the game. I replied no and he asked me if I wanted his extra. Incredulously, I responded, "Sure, how much?" He told me he couldn't accept money and thanked me for hauling them up. I was in heaven - the guy was very generous to give me a free single for the AFC Championship rematch. He told me he going to go take a piss and he'd give me the ticket when he got back to the limo. When he came back he mentioned that a guy in line offered him $300.00 for a single. But, he said he had to decline as it was already promised to "our driver." I thanked him repeatedly and we all went our separate ways. I hooked up with the regulars (Bob, Missy, Scottie & Schneid) and a few others. One girl and her husband were from Columbus and recognized me from the old Wheeling Jesuit days. I forget their names but they were cool - Hey, it's not like I was ever enrolled at that pseudo-university.
It was a tight game. Lots of field position - a definite chess match between Cowher and Belicheck. I stood in the pit for almost the entire game. A gust of wind knocked over a swath of half-empty beers as the weather grew increasingly brisk. One highlight - after Rodney Harrison broke his leg, they wheeled him out on a golf cart right in front of me. They brought the ambulance inside Heinz Field next to the main entrance, loaded him up, and zipped the fuckhead to a nearby hospital. Poor guy (not financially) - out for the season.
As Vinatieri lined up for the winning field goal, Scottie made repeated kicking motions while repeating the word "Shankatieri." Vinatieri split the uprights and the crowd went dead silent followed by a quiet walk back to the limo. Eventually, everyone made it back to the car. It was a super long ride home. There was a really bad 10 car wreck on 79 so they had to reroute everyone through the Carnegie exit. We probably sat in traffic for an extra hour. I took a little heat for going 79, but it's not like the accident was my fault. Long day, long night and a tough loss.