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Fans Give Steelers Home-Field Advantage in Redskins' Stadium

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The Washington Post's Jason Reid discusses the Redskins' 23-6 loss to the Steelers on Monday night.Audio by Jason Reid/The Washington Post

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By Dan Steinberg
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 5, 2008

During the second quarter of Monday night's loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington Redskins center Casey Rabach told Jason Campbell they would have to use a silent snap count. Rabach estimated that the offense went on to use the silent snap count a half-dozen times over the course of the night. Why was it necessary?

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"I couldn't [bleeping] hear him," Rabach said.

Excessive noise by opposing fans might not be unusual during a road game, but one Redskins player after another said he couldn't remember a similar moment at FedEx Field.

"Never," guard Randy Thomas said when asked about using a silent count at the team's home. "First for me."

Monday night, though, was not a typical home game. Steelers fans filled buses that streamed into the stadium's parking lots, set up giant banners and flags, waved their trademark Terrible Towels and left some Redskins players disoriented.

"I'm like, 'Are those yellow towels for us or for them?' " wide receiver Santana Moss said yesterday. "I really scratched my head about it, because I've never seen it done, especially at FedEx, to have someone come into our home and almost have more fans than we did."

"It was something we discussed on the sidelines," Thomas said. "Like, 'Damn, are we giving away free towels tonight or something?' . . . For a [visiting] team like that to be able to get a hold of tickets, I mean, how can you do that?"

Fans and ticket brokers offered several explanations. Thousands of western Pennsylvania transplants live in the D.C. area, and they had not had a chance to see their team play a regular season game in this market since 1988. This was also a manageable road trip for a fan base that is legendary for leaving home to support its team. "The best traveling fans in the country, by far," said Jeff Greenberg, the owner of Gaithersburg-based broker ASCTicket.com.

Many Redskins season ticket holders have said they resell high-demand game tickets to help pay for the rest of their packages, which include mandatory preseason games. Others say they are most likely to avoid weekday night dates, when traffic can be abysmal both before and after the games.

More than 7,000 tickets were purchased on StubHub for the Redskins-Steelers game, the highest number for any NFL game this season, according to Sean Pate, a spokesman for the online ticket vendor. He said 9 percent of those buying tickets were from Pennsylvania. As of yesterday, around 3,000 tickets were available on StubHub for Washington's next home game, against the Dallas Cowboys on Nov. 16.

Pate said the Redskins are among six NFL teams that have a contractual agreement that promotes StubHub as the official site for fans to resell their tickets. The remaining 26 teams have a similar arrangement with Ticketmaster.

Redskins Coach Jim Zorn was asked at his news conference yesterday about the number of Steelers fans at Monday's game and said the Redskins also had a fervent fan base and noted that many of their fans had attended the team's game in Detroit against the Lions on Oct. 26.


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