The Pittsburgh Steelers could have had plenty of excuses had they lost to the New York Giants on Sunday. Not only were the Giants riding a four-game winning streak, they were playing at home in front of an emotionally-charged fan base which was beginning to come together after one of the worst storms in recent history.
Meanwhile, Pittsburgh had to alter its travel schedule, leaving the Steelers arriving in New Jersey several hours before kickoff.
No matter, however, as the Steelers erased a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter and snuck out of East Rutherford, N.J. with a 24-20 win.
"Coming in the day of the game was tough and we had to deal with that adversity," said Steelers running back Isaac Redman. "But the Giants had to deal with adversity all week. We just had to come in here and be ready to play. This shows we have a lot of heart. When you play for the Steelers, it's all about heart."
Normally, Pittsburgh arrives in its destination city on Saturday afternoon. But because their Jersey City hotel lost power, the Steelers were forced to rearrange their travel plans. Rather than look for another hotel and risk shutting out displaced residents from shelter, the Steelers decided to stay in Pittsburgh on Saturday night and fly into New Jersey on Sunday.
The Steelers charter plane left Pittsburgh around 9 A.M. on Sunday and arrived at Newark Airport about an hour later. The team bused to a hotel, where they ate a pre-game meal, and then headed over to MetLife Stadium. Kickoff was at 4:25 P.M.
The NFL told the New York Times that it could not remember another team arranging same-day travel for a regular season game.
"It felt kind of weird coming the day of," Redman said. "But any obstacle that comes in our way, we just push it aside and come to work."
In light of the unusual circumstances, the Steelers victory was quite impressive. In fact, Pittsburgh's win may have had other teams wondering whether they should fly into visiting cities the day of the game rather than a day before. But a league official told NBC Sports' Pro Football Talk that that would be strongly discouraged because of the risk delay.
The Steelers knew that as difficult as their journey was, it was nothing compared to the plight of scores of New York and New Jersey residents.
"There are so many bigger things going on around here that what we do is not as important as real life," said quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. "My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone else who are going through so much. There were so many emotions going on, I didn't know what to expect from it. But maybe we were able to take their minds off their problems just a little."