In spite of the fact that they are all but eliminated from contention for the top seed in the AFC, and the fact that the unique nature of 2020 greatly impacts the effect of a ‘home game’ when many teams, now including the Pittsburgh Steelers, are not permitted to host fans, the team is still pushing on trying to secure the AFC North title, and with it, the opportunity to host at least one game.
“It is big for me. I enjoy the comforts of home”, head coach Mike Tomlin said on Tuesday during his pre-game press conference. “Even though we don’t get the pleasure of performing in front of Steeler nation and gaining the advantage of the 12th man, logistically and things of that nature, being at home has its advantages just in terms of how you travel and how you move throughout your week. No question, being in your home venue in the comforts of things that are familiar to you are something that we value”.
While the absence of a crowd certainly takes something away from the feeling, and arguably the benefit, of a home game, there are still many other perks that come from playing in your own stadium. For one thing, you don’t have to travel, which I’m sure we can all agree is preferable. Traveling isn’t necessarily an enjoyable experience.
What’s more, you know the stadium, you know the grass, you know the locker room. It’s your home. It’s where you spend a lot of time. You’re always more comfortable in your own home than you are in somebody else’s home.
For weeks now, the Steelers have had the opportunity to lock up the AFC North crown with just one single victory, but they have been unable to do that, now riding a three-game losing streak heading into Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts, which may well be their final home game until the start of the 2021 season if they can’t squeak out another win over the next two weeks.
Pittsburgh hasn’t even been in the postseason since the 2017 season. That year, they finished the regular season with a 13-3 record, winning the AFC North and receiving a first-round bye, though as the two seed, if they qualified at the same level, they no longer would have that week off.
They hosted the Jacksonville Jaguars during the Divisional Round, and of course you know how that went. They did win one home playoff game the year before in 2016 when they hosted the Miami Dolphins in the Wildcard Round. Their last home playoff win before that was in 2010, the year they competed in the Super Bowl. They only had one other home playoff game in between, the Wildcard Round loss to the Baltimore Ravens in 2014.