The Steelers were pulling for the New York Jets to beat the Patriots and send the AFC Championship Game to Pittsburgh, but does that fall into the category of watch what you wish for?
Pittsburgh was 7-1 on the road during the regular season and just 5-3 at home, although the Steelers did add another victory to that pile when they beat Baltimore 31-24 in their opening playoff game.
Now come the road warrior Jets, 4-1 in the last two postseasons on the road, and the Steelers aren't quite invincible in AFC title games at home.
They are 1-2 in championship games at Heinz Field, and 1-3 in their past four title games at home going back to the 1997 season when John Elway and Denver beat them. Despite their unprecedented history of winning six Super Bowls (in seven trips), they are just 5-5 in AFC championship games at home, going back to their first one against Miami after the 1972 season, a loss.
Home, though, is where they prefer to be on Sunday.
"When you're at home you appreciate the fact you're at home, sleeping in your own bed if that's an option, driving to the stadium, being home 20 minutes after you walk out of the stadium," coach Mike Tomlin said. "Those are things that I enjoy about being at home.
"We enjoy the support of our crowd, but in terms of what goes on inside the white lines the team that makes the critical plays at the critical moments is going to win. Home or away is a factor. It's not the ultimate or deciding factor. I think the Jets have proven that emphatically over the last several weeks."
The Jets are trying to become the second sixth seed to win a Super Bowl after the Steelers did it in the 2005 season. The New York Giants took the same route as a wild-card team two years later, winning three on the road and then the Super Bowl.
However, the past five AFC Championship Games were won by the home team, including the 2008 Steelers.
"We appreciate being at home," Tomlin said. "If given the choice, we'd rather play at Heinz Field in front of our fans. They're a home-field advantage-worthy kind of a crowd, whether we are or not, so we're going to give them what they've got coming to them."
Copyright (C) 2011 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.