They should have known better.
After all, this is becoming old hat in the Steel City, isn't it? Clearly, they know the drill by now: Earn the No. 2 seed in the AFC, watch the No. 1 seed fall flat, then get the AFC Championship Game in their backyard.
And doesn't that represent a change of heart in the Steelers' locker room? After the win over Baltimore? Sure. Players characteristically were noncommittal about the next opponent. But now that they know it's New York, and that it's at Heinz Field? Different story.
"It's good because you get to do the same routine," Clark said. "Going on the road, and having to pack up? Fly? That's the part of home-field advantage that I don't think people understand. You've got the big locker room, not the small one they put you in when you're on the road. It's just little things like that that mean a lot as far as home games go. We're excited."
They should be.
The Steelers, after all, have played in eight AFC title games over the past 17 years, and all but one has been staged on Pittsburgh's North Shore. To put that in perspective, no other team can match hosting the AFC Championship Game seven times over the entire course of the game's history, dating to 1970. And five AFC franchises -- including, yes, the Jets -- have never even played one title game at home.
"It would have felt like a home game anyway, because (Steelers fans) travel so well," Clark said. "But we'd rather have it here with the black-and-gold seats."
The No. 2 seed trick surfaced in 1996 and 1998, as well, although the Steelers split those two title games played at Three Rivers Stadium. In fact, hosting doesn't always translate into success, especially when you consider that Pittsburgh has lost four of six home title games since 1994.
But, to be clear, playing in Pittsburgh sure beats the alternative, doesn't it?
This is the 11th time the Steelers will host a conference championship game. It's also the 15th in which they will play. Both are league records. But you won't hear this team bragging about that this week.
"We just go about our business and prepare the right way to play a football game," Pouncey said. "We don't do a lot of talking."
Their opponent? Well, they take a different approach.
"We don't pay attention," Pouncey said. "It don't bother us at all. Let them talk."
That might give the road team a little leverage in the war of words.
"You know, they had storylines in the other places," Clark said, referring to the Jets' first two opponents. "We don't. There's just not good storylines between us.
"The only storyline we have is six (Lombardi) trophies. And we're trying to get another one. That's all we're working towards."
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press