"It hurts," said Bruce Samuels, who watched the game at Gallagher's, a sports bar in central Phoenix. "I'll probably go home and call some people, pour myself a stiff drink."
During the game's last couple minutes, when the Cardinals were leading, fans cheerfully clapped to chants of "Let's go Cardinals." But when it became clear the Steelers would win, many somberly held their faces while watching the TV. They could only stay silent as a small group of Pittsburgh fans swung yellow towels around, then make a hasty exit.
Shelley Malone said the Steelers' out-of-nowhere touchdown on James Harrison's 100-yard interception return at the end of the second quarter sealed the team's fate. "That's where I felt like we couldn't come back from that," Malone said.
For Harold Sims, a Cardinals fan of more than 20 years, the team is still of champion-caliber. "Nothing but good came out of this game," he said. "We shocked the world, even though we lost. We (were) ahead with less than a minute in the game. But you know what? Next year."
Meanwhile, thousands of Steelers fans jumped up and down, danced atop chairs and tossed napkins in the air like confetti at Harold's Corral, a Cave Creek restaurant and bar that bills itself as a gathering spot for Pittsburgh fans.
"They had a great showing," Deschner said. "I just think that they're too young to be in the show. I think they are going to come back next year and be a player."
Bryant said Arizona made great strides as a franchise but still needs to keep trying to build confidence in its modest fan base.
"The best thing the Arizona Cardinals have is the people from Pittsburgh in their organization now," Bryant said.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press