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Steelers roll to Super Bowl

Fans go wild as Pittsburgh beats Denver

Fans go wild as Pittsburgh beats Denver

January 23, 2006|By KAREN HANNA

HAGERSTOWN

karenh@herald-mail.com

Amid the shouting, towel waving and hoopla of the Pittsburgh Steelers playoff game, two customers on bar stools soberly carved out time for Football 102.

For any nonfootball fans in the partisan crowd Sunday at Ground Round, Gloria Coyle shared one lesson she's already learned about the sport: "You might wind up getting into football, too. Hope you don't wait till you're 55, like I did. Now I can see what I've been missing."

Coyle studied notes on a napkin as her husband, Jim, a native of Pittsburgh, and other die-hard Steelers fans hugged, high-fived and cheered their team to a 34-17 victory over the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship game. The televisions in the restaurant's bar all were tuned to the game.

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"Oh, we're going to win, and we're going to the Super Bowl," Tasha Birgans, 30, of Hagerstown, said shortly after the opening kickoff.

Birgans, who grew up in Upshur County, W.Va., even cheered as Pittsburgh signaled a fair catch on a Denver punt, and she exchanged high-fives with other fans on first-down conversions and defensive stands.

A lifelong Steelers fan, Birgans exuded confidence.

"We haven't beat Denver, we never beat Denver, we will today," she said.

Coyle said she still is learning the game. Handwritten notes on one side of her napkin reminded her how many yards are needed for a first down (10), while a diagram on the flip side showed the 50-yard division between the opposing teams. Since learning about ice hockey from her husband, Coyle said she figured it was time to tackle football. Sunday was her second formal lesson.

"I need to be involved in this sport. It's fun. I feel more emotionally involved with my husband, especially this time of year," Coyle said.

While she said she has enjoyed learning about football during the Steelers' Super Bowl-bound hot streak, Coyle said she does not look forward to enduring the sorrows of defeat.

"You know, I don't think I want to cry with my husband, but I think that's part of the package deal, isn't it?" Coyle said.

Pittsburgh's offense ensured most in the crowd would not have to repeat the nail biting that accompanied the team's win over Indianapolis last weekend.

For the only Denver blue-clad fan in a sea of black and gold, even a quick Pittsburgh touchdown to start the second quarter was no reason to give up hope.

"We can come back. I know we can come back. There's a lot of time left," said Mark Sites, 21, of Hagerstown.

With the Pittsburgh score, Sites' navy hat became a target for a friend's Terrible Towel.

David Ritchey, 19, of Hagerstown, and other fans said they're ready for the Super Bowl.

As the Steelers outplayed the Broncos in the second quarter, Jim Coyle, who lives with his wife in Maugansville, watched the game quietly. He said he's already made plans for the Super Bowl ? he's headed home to Pittsburgh.

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