And the only thing I like more than watching the games is taking photographs of ourselves watching the games. Here are a few of my favorites, in chronological order, with game recaps.
1. Super Bowl XL
February 5, 2006
Seahawks 10, Steelers 21
We took this picture moments after the Steelers won their first Superbowl of my adult life. The Steelers won not due to the heroic play of Ben Roethlisberger (he was mediocre at best that night), but because of the thrilling touchdown pass from Antwaan Randle El to Hines Ward. Click that link and you'll see what Ben did best on that night--throw a wonderful block on a charging pass-rusher.
2. Rocco Bowl I
September 21, 2008
Eagles 15, Steelers 6
3. September 21, 2008
Cowboys 13, Steelers 20
Week 14 of the 2008 season was one of the most thrilling Steelers victories I have ever seen. The game was played on a frigid night in Pittsburgh, and ended with Deshea Townsend's unbelievable interception and run-back to save the game from what seemed certain ignominious loss. Most of my family was at the game that night, but I was at home rooting along with my son, who was wearing eye black made of mascara.
4. December 21, 2008
Steelers 14, Titans 31
This game, the "towel-stomping game," was pretty much the most anti-climactic match of the 2008 season. The Steelers played poorly and Ben fumbled the ball four times, but the loss solidified the playoff picture and set us on the path to the Super Bowl.
5. 2008 AFC Championship Game
January 18, 2008
Ravens 14, Steelers 23
6. Super Bowl XLIII
February 1, 2009
Cardinals 23, Steelers 27
The arrival of my son in September of 2008 was the most fortunate thing to happen to the Steelers since Carson Palmer met Kimo Von Oelhoffen. It's remarkable enough that the Steelers won the Super Bowl in the very first year of his existence, but my son was actually in a local commercial that aired during halftime of the game. Only moments after James Harrison's miraculous (it's okay to use that word miraculous, isn't it? I mean, if I have ever seen a miracle in my life, it was surely this) run-back to end the first half, my son appeared on the television wearing a Steelers onesie. Too much.
Moments after the victory, I snapped this picture. My brother, Jason, who lives in Milwaukee, photshopped himself and Julie into it and sent it back:
7. October 11, 2009
Steelers 28, Lions 20
The 2009-2010 season began with boundless promise. The Steelers won a big Thursday-night game over the Titans to kick off the season. This victory over the Lions was part of a 6-2 start that seemed to portend another Super Bowl run. However, the lackluster win (the Lions kept it close until the final moments) should have told us something was not quite right with the team.
8. October 18, 2009
Browns 14, Steelers 27
The Steelers beat the Browns the following week, but you can tell from the body language of these guys that it wasn't terribly exciting.
9. November 15, 2009
Bengals 18, Steelers 12
We traveled all the way to Pittsburgh last year to see the team unravel. They lost miserably to the Bengals, lost Polomalu in the process, and began a slow decline that witnessed losses to Oakland at home and Kansas City on the road. Ugh.
Both of these were taken before the suckery began, while we were still having fun.
The season ended without the Steelers getting a whiff of the playoffs. And then the whole nasty business with Ben Roethlisberger happened, and over the long off-season I kind of stopped looking forward to seeing the Steelers again. When your quarterback has to miss four games because he's a worse guy than the meat-head dudes at your high school that you couldn't stand to be around, it's hard to pull for the team.
But then my brother got me tickets for game number 10....
10. September 19, 2010
Steelers 19, Titans 11
...and I felt it again. The Steelers pulled off a huge win in Nashville this Sunday, shutting down the Titans offense and limiting Chris Johnson to something like 34 yards. And Troy Polamalu was back for only the second time since the Cincinnati game pictured above, and he made a spectacular interception in the end zone, as he always seems to do.
My brother, sister-in-law, and I were the only Steelers fans in our area of the stands, and we stood up and waved the Terrible Towel and shouted along, and I couldn't deny it. It felt pretty great.