- Associated Press - Sunday, November 4, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) - Courtney Davis has no idea what her house looks like because her town of Sea Bright was washed away by Superstorm Sandy.

Yet she was at the Meadowlands on Sunday when the Steelers beat the Giants 24-20.

“We need this,” Davis said. “We could really use this game and having a good time.”

Davis and many other fans tailgating outside MetLife Stadium said they were thankful NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell did not postpone the game or order it moved to Pittsburgh. And Goodell stopped by to do some tailgating himself, then meet on the field and congratulate first responders, calling them “heroes.”


Asked about concerns for playing the game, Goodell said:

“I sure didn’t hear that here. I didn’t hear it out in the parking lot. In fact, exactly the opposite of that … `we want to be able to get away from what we have been dealing with all week for a while’ and a couple of guys said, `This re-energized us. We’re ready to go back.’

“That’s a nice sense.”

The game was never in real danger of being called off, unlike Sunday’s New York City Marathon that was canceled on Friday after growing public pressure.

Given the gas shortage in the state _ New Jersey has implemented a rationing program _ and a depleted mass transit available, the Giants urged fans to carpool to the stadium. In their conversation before the weekend, Goodell was assured by Gov. Chris Christie that the game wouldn’t divert any major resources from relief efforts.

Giants coach Tom Coughlin emphasized how important the game was _ and how upsetting the defeat was.

“That’s as disappointing a loss as we’ve had in a long time,” he said. “Not to be overly reactionary or emotional, to play against a very good football team like that … we wanted emotionally to win the game so badly for obvious reasons, for our neighbors who are struggling, who needed some type of inspiration and we didn’t provide it.”

Davis described a beach town that looked more like the desert, with sand dunes piled 8 feet high and bulldozers trying to level them “just like you see in a blizzard.”

“Debris everywhere,” she added. “We have no idea when we can go back.”

Earlier in the week, seeing Steelers-Giants didn’t enter her thoughts. But as the weekend began, she decided the Meadowlands was the right place to be.

So while the parking lots filled up and smoke rose from barbecues, people who lost power but not resolve found their way to a football game. And to each other.

Story Continues →