By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. -- They came early, filling the hotels along First Street by Friday, jamming into Sneakers sports bar Saturday afternoon for Pitt-Michigan State, wandering aimlessly in the sand, lugging cases of beer into the Comfort Inn, screeching all the way.
In this beach town 20 miles from Alltel Stadium, Steelers fans await the arrival of the first road game of the season. It was on the road, after all, that the Steelers themselves made history last season when they became the first NFL team to win three games as the visitors and went on to complete the grand slam with a victory in the Super Bowl.
It's white jersey time again for the Steelers when they play the Jacksonville Jaguars at 8:30 p.m. today, the first time they've worn them in a real game since Super Bowl XL. That was their fourth consecutive victory away from Heinz Field. Of the Steelers' eight-game winning streak that delivered their fifth NFL championship, six came away from home.
They play the Jaguars tonight on the road, where they are 17-2 in the past two seasons, including the postseason.
"We've thrived in that environment, taking on not only a team but the fans and the noise and the atmosphere," guard and co-captain Alan Faneca said. "I don't know if it makes guys focus more but it makes us better in that environment."