Proper etiquette dictates that when you and your gal are invited to attend a Steelers/Ravens tussle at M&T Bank Stadium -- and the invitation means that you'll be viewing the event from Suite 369 -- it's never wise for you to be wearing your Steeler #67 Duval Love jersey while she wears her Steeler #28 Chris Hope jersey.
It's not because you'll be hanged in effigy once inside the luxury box -- it's because you might get lynched on the way to that luxury box.
That's because, sometimes, unenlightened people see only the big, bold 67 or the 28 while refusing to acknowledge the yellow lettering across the back.
And HOPE ...
Alas, this is what happens when your FUAMATU-MA'AFALA 45 jersey is at the dry cleaners.
Or when you never got around to buying one.
Anyway, it was mighty neighborly of J-Bliz (no one really calls him that) to allow a pro-Steeler element into his purple nook of the noisiest (read: "noisiest" ... not "loudest") stadium in the NFL (a large % of that noise is artificial).
It might've seemed symbolic, in some sense, to be there in Suite 369 when the Steelers were losing, 3-9, and then 6-9 (it's fun, sometimes, to put the losing score first) -- except we weren't there in 369 when the score turned from 3-9 to 6-9 ... and, subsequently, we didn't get a very good look at the controversial Santonio Holmes reception on the goal line.
We were 10-12 miles away.
On the interstate.
Returning to the Honeycomb Hideout, which is our usual viewing outpost for all football matters black-n'-gold.
We had to ditch the scene after that zany punt return late in the 3rd (+14 on the muff by Santonio, +18 on the ricochet of said muff by Keyaron Fox) was negated by that zany bobble/muff/volley/juggle by Big Ben on the first play of the 4th.
Ol' #7 looked merely pedestrian in person before the DVR showed a different Big Ben operating with precision during the 2-minute drill.
It figures ...
In between cuttin' out early and arriving at Ground Control, we opted not to bother with satellite radio ... because doing so would've involved us with one of two elements:
1) Either Ravens broadcaster Gerry Sandusky providing his trademark (and super-lame) "the hay is in the barn!" when the outcome seems irreversibly pro-Raven or 2) Steelers play-by-play guy Bill Hillgrove sneak-attacking with another "failure to I.D." -- which is exactly what happened with the call of the Steeler D clinching the W ("Intercepted! The Steelers have it, they're gonna run it out and this one is going, going, gone!")
True ... Bill-Hill usually gets around to eventually I.D.ing the player (today: William Gay with the INT in the end zone of the desperation heave by Flacco) but, what's wrong with turning eventually into immediately?
The Charger win was an awesome example:
"Intercepted! Running with the football a Steeler defender!"
Toonch ... hand Bill your binoculars.
Then, hand him a roster ...
Hay and Gay notwithstanding, it was a treat to re-visit the building where the Steelers were winners during their first 5 visits, but had lost 5 in a row here since (twice on Stover FGs in OT).
Ahh, the memories ... such as the inaugural game in '98 ... a 20-13 Steeler victory in the '98 season opener ... a game tarnished by a poor center snap in punt formation from Ravens long-snapper Harper LeBel which set up the Steelers with a 1st-n'-goal inside the 10.
They say y'never forget a poor center snap from somebody named Harper LeBel, particularly when it occurs in the first-ever (regular-season) game inside a football stadium which was once named for a now-defunct company (PSI.net).
Those commercials with Chris Noth ... didn't move the needle, apparently.
Of course, Harper LeBel's errant snap is a defense mechanism some of us use to block out certain unpleasant memories ... such as when you're mindin' your own beeswax and that loudmouth asks ya where ya got your gray t-shirt w/ the traditional stencil-style Steelers logo ... but, he isn't really waitin' for an answer 'cuz he says, "Do they sell those in men's sizes?" -- and then you immediately fire back with, "Sure ... you can probably get one in a size that'll fit your boyfriend there" as you nod in the direction of the guy who appears to be either his son or a date he selected from the NAMBLA personals).
All the analysts and experts were surprised by the immediacy of the comeback, not to mention impressed by the fact that the Costanza/Jerk Store Application delivered w/o any references to that guy's inability to satisfy a woman with such a tiny dick.
We've come a long way in Steeler-Raven relations in 10 years -- but, that doesn't explain that guy who was walking ahead of us while wearing a Steelers jersey with DANISH 43 on the back.
It wasn't worth stoppin' him to ask if he was from Denmark ... or if he a DANISH 43 jersey was a replacement for when the Feds busted in and confiscated those counterfeit ROTHLISBURGER 7 jerseys which have proliferated the black market.
Besides, we were on our way to see the Unitas Statue ... the sculpture of Johnny U. with the oversized package which nobody talks about.
It's no way to treat an icon, but it's always good for a laugh.
"At the end of the day," our Unitas Statues of America are a better place when it's the Steelers, not the Ravens, clinching the AFC North and a first-round playoff bye.
It's impressive (since B'More had spent the past 2 mos. goin' 7-1, winning those seven by an average score of 32-11), but it's also amusing because the Steelers aren't 'sposed to be 11-3 heading into the Titan tussle which lies ahead -- not with an OL which went from LT - Smith / LG - Faneca / C - Mahan / RG - Simmons / RT - Colon to LT - Starks / LG - Kemoeatu / C - Hartwig / RG - Stapleton / RT - Colon.
And, don't forget the loss of long-snapper Chris Warren.
Also ... Darnell StapleWho?
There's simply NO WAY a team should be this good after losing the perennial All-Pro (Faneca) to free agency and then vets such as Smith and Simmons to injury early in the season.
Apparently, Coach Tomlin wasn't blowin' smoke up our skirt after the first win over the Ravens -- after Simmons tore his Achilles and Mendenhall fractured his shoulder blade -- when he said, "It is only devastating if you allow it to be."