Grab your tickets and binoculars, point the pickup toward the North Shore, and if you throw a can or two of Iron City in the cooler with the kielbasa, Steelers coach Bill Cowher won’t mind.
The Steelers return to Heinz Field on Sunday to play the Tennessee Titans in the first home game since the regular-season opener Sept. 7. Tired of having his players trying to call signals over the noisy crowd in Nashville the past two seasons, Cowher wants to hear a lot of noise Sunday in support of his team.
“Hopefully, we will allow the noise to be a more of a benefit than it was an obstacle the last few years,” said Cowher, whose team has played the past three games against the Titans on the road.
“I’d like to think noise will be a factor and I encourage everyone to make noise a factor. Hopefully, we can feed off that energy.”
Game time is 1 p.m., but Cowher doesn’t think the early start will affect the fans’ tailgating festivities or when they will start getting ready for the game.
“That’s the one thing good about Pittsburgh,” Cowher said. “People will adjust their schedules accordingly.”
Cowher said football fans can tip the competitive balance in favor of the home team more than in any other sport by making it difficult for the offense to hear the snap count. Defensive players get an edge because offensive linemen must watch the ball and the defender at the same time.
“To me, that’s why we have home-field advantage,” Cowher said. “To me, you take all the other sports and I’m not sure what kind of competitive advantage any other sport has by playing at home. You have to practice with it because you have to do things differently that you don’t (normally) do.
“It’s without a doubt a competitive advantage for the offense against the defense when you’re playing at home.
“That’s what you are fighting for at playoff time. That’s why you encourage your fans to come out and be the 12th man, to be the factor. That’s what entertainment is all about.
“That’s what, I think, makes this city very special because fans understand that they can have an effect on the game. They recognize they can identify with their team and they can be loud. As players, we feed off of that.”
The Steelers have compiled an outstanding 15-4-1 record since Heinz Field opened in 2001.
“In our game, there’s an energy that is felt,” Cowher said. “It can take you to another level. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. To me, that’s what makes our sport different than any of the others.”