Daily Archives: July 4, 2012

A Look at Santonio Holmes’ Key Contributions Down the Stretch of the Steelers Super Bowl XLIII Campaign


Near the end of the 2009 season, my brother offered me a fantasy football trade of Santonio Holmes for DeSean Jackson. Up to that point, Holmes only had one touchdown, but I had a hunch and accepted the trade for the Steelers receiver. After the deal was consummated, my brother smugly said, “I can’t believe you made that trade. Jackson is good!” Well, as I said, I went with my gut instincts, because during his short career in Pittsburgh, Holmes had a knack for scoring a lot of important touchdowns late in the season. In fact, the second touchdown reception of Holmes’ career was a game-winner in overtime against Cincinnati that knocked the Bengals out of the playoffs in the last week of the 2006 regular season.

My hunch for accepting the trade for Holmes paid off as he caught four touchdown passes down the stretch, and even though the Steelers missed the real playoffs, he helped keep my fantasy playoff hopes alive.

Of course, just a season earlier, Holmes wasn’t catching touchdown passes to knock other teams out of the playoffs or to help some sap make the fantasy football playoffs. No, the clutch plays that Holmes came up with late in the 2008 season may have been the most critical in the team’s march to winning Super Bowl XLIII.

In October of 2008, the thought of Holmes being a major contributing factor to a Super Bowl title seemed pretty far-fetched when Coach Mike Tomlin deactivated him before the Steelers, 21-14, loss to the Giants after the third year receiver was stopped by Pittsburgh police for marijuana possession earlier in the week.

This was pretty alarming because the young receiver had already had a couple of brushes with the law very early in his career.

Up to that point in the season, Holmes only had one touchdown, but after his return to the lineup a week later in Washington, he started to become more of a key contributor to the offense, finishing the regular season with five tds. And starting in week 15, in a game against the Ravens with the AFC North on the line, Holmes’ contributions became downright vital.

With the Steelers trailing, 10-6, with less than a minute remaining in the game, it was 3rd and goal from the four yard line. Ben Roethlisberger scrambled to his left and then back to his right where he hit Holmes with a pass right at the goal line. Holmes caught the pass just inside the end zone before being knocked back into the field of play. After a review, the officials had determined that Holmes crossed the plane while in possession of the football, and it was a touchdown and a division clincher for the Steelers. Other than that play, Holmes didn’t really do much statistically during that game, but he sure came through with a clutch grab at just the right time.

Fast forward to the Division playoff game against the San Diego Chargers at Heinz Field. The Chargers had taken a 7-0 lead on their first possession of the game, and you could feel the tension building among the Steeler faithful in attendance. However, midway through the first quarter, Holmes came through big-time with a 67-yard punt return in-which he darted up the middle and then took off down the far sideline, hurdled a Chargers’ defender and out-ran everyone else for the game-tying touchdown. The Steelers went on to control things the rest of the way in a 35-24 victory. Again, Holmes didn’t put up impressive numbers in the game, but momentum is huge in playoff football, and who knows how things may have turned out without Santonio’s incredible return.

A week later in the AFC Championship game against the Ravens, Holmes made another awesome play when he caught a pass from a scrambling Roethlisberger near mid-field and raced all the way across to the other side of the field and down the far sideline for a spectacular 65-yard catch and run that looked very similar to the punt return of a week earlier. It was the only offensive touchdown that the Steelers would score in their 23-14 victory, but Holmes came within a whisker of scoring two more. Unlike the previous two games I mentioned, Holmes really should have had a much bigger game statistically than the 70 yards in receptions that he wound up with. Early in the first quarter, Holmes appeared to have a 24-yard touchdown catch, only to have it overturned on replay. And late in the first half, Big Ben threw behind Santonio on a play in-which he had his man beaten to the inside and surely would have scored. After that incomplete pass, Holmes held up two fingers as if to indicate two more touchdowns that he should have had. Indeed, and with two more scores, Troy’s famous pick-six would have been just another play.

And, then there was Super Bowl XLIII. All-in-all, Holmes caught nine passes for 131 yards, but none were bigger than his two key receptions on the team’s championship-clinching drive. With barely over a minute left, the Steelers were at Arizona’s 46-yard line when Big Ben found Holmes near the 35. The defender slipped on the play, and Holmes made it all the way to the six-yard line. Two plays later, history was made when Holmes pulled in maybe the most impressive touchdown catch in Super Bowl history.

David Tyree gets much kudos for his helmet catch in Super Bowl XLII, and rightfully so, but what Holmes did on this play by stretching out for the ball, keeping both feet in the end zone and then safely securing the football without bobbling it as he was knocked to the ground was remarkable. If he screws up any part of that play, it’s an incomplete pass.

For his efforts, Holmes was named Super Bowl XLIII MVP, but if the NFL had a postseason MVP, Santonio surely would have won it that year. I don’t think the Steelers win Super Bowl XLIII without Holmes’ key plays down the stretch.

Unfortunately, Holmes’ never did lasso the character issues from his first few seasons, and after some questionable Tweets to a fan and a failed drug test, he was shipped off to the Jets for a 5th round draft choice following the 2009 season.

Even with the Jets, Holmes continued his clutch postseason play with a fourth quarter touchdown in the Divisional playoff match-up against the Patriots and a 45 yard touchdown catch a week later in a loss to the Steelers in the 2010 AFC Championship game.

Along with his crucial late-season contributions, Holmes’ character issues have also followed him to New York, and last season, he was called out by teammates for not being much of a team player.

I don’t know if Holmes will ever truly grow up and become a solid citizen, but there are few receivers that I fear more come playoff time. Holmes has scored a touchdown in five of his six career postseason games.

No, Holmes probably isn’t a great teammate, and if he doesn’t turn his life around very soon, he could turn into one of those really sad stories that we all read about years from now.

But the fact that the Steelers probably owe their sixth Lombardi trophy to Santonio Holmes just goes to show you that clutch performers come in all shapes and sizes.

You can say a lot of things about Santonio Holmes, but you can’t say the 2008 postseason was too big for him.

Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

Jersey of Steelers WR/KR Antonio Brown Placed in Pro Football Hall of Fame

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In Week 17 of the 2011 season, Steelers WR/KR Antonio Brown capped off his historic season with a 23-yard kick return, which placed him over the 1,000 yard mark for the year.

He had eclipsed the 1,000 yards receiving mark a week earlier against St. Louis. That kick return, though, made him the first player in NFL history to achieve 1,000 yard marks in both receiving and return categories.

Because of that, his jersey has been placed on display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

Brown also broke the franchise record for all-purpose yards with 2,211. Barry Foster’s 2,034 had stood since 1992. Brown was named the team’s MVP, the first second-year player to earn that honor since Rod Woodson did it in 1989.

Any one of those honors are impressive, even more so when you add in the fact he was a sixth-round draft pick in 2010, and was the final piece of a layered transaction that sent former Steelers WR and Super Bowl XLIII MVP Santonio Holmes to the Jets (the Steelers dealt Holmes for a fifth-round pick, which the Steelers traded to Arizona for CB Bryant McFadden and the sixth-round pick they used to select Brown).

Former Steelers C Demontti Dawson will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August, and any Steelers fans making the trip to Canton can see Brown’s jersey, along with Dawson’s bust, and the busts of the other 25 Steelers’ Hall of Fame members.

Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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Former Pittsburgh Steelers Offensive Tackle Max Starks is Healthly, Could Again Add Stability to Offensive Line

For Pittsburgh Steelers fans, these past few weeks have been crawling along at a snails pace as the team prepares for training camp. While there has been some tidbits dropped on the Mike Wallace situation and there have been a couple of small transactions, no sweeping news has truly become known.Although, if fans can read between some lines and look closely at social media outlets such as twitter, they may expect to see a roster move shortly. At the end of last week on twitter, veteran offensive tackle (and Ben Roethlisberger favorite) Max Starks (@maxstarks78) announced he was working on pass protection and felt he was near 100 percent. Something that should ring as music to the ears of Steelers fans across Steeler Nation.

Last season, Starks was instrumental in stabilizing the offensive line once he returned to the team. In fact, one can argue that without him, the Steelers would not have made it to the playoffs in 2011. Unfortunately, his season (like the Steelers) came to a pa…

Source: Yardbarker: Pittsburgh Steelers

Playoff turnover trend may not hold this year

In recent years, playoff teams have been bounced from the next year’s postseason field at a rate of 50 percent.  Last year, precisely six of the 12 playoff teams from 2010 (three per conference) didn’t make it back in 2011. This year could be the year in which the trend doesn’t hold. MDS joined PFT…

Source: ProFootballTalk » Pittsburgh Steelers

Former Steelers OL Trevis Turner Suspended Four Games


A league source confirmed with Scout.com writer Aaron Wilson former Steelers OL Trevis Turner has been suspended for the first four games of the 2012 season for an undisclosed reason.

Turner was an undrafted free agent in 2011, and was on the team’s practice squad last season. He was released in May, possibly in wake of an upcoming suspension.

Turner didn’t figure to be a favorite to make the 53-man roster, but he did have practice squad eligibility, and could have been someone the team monitored the progress of through this season.

Not that it’d be impossible for his career to resume. Whomever takes him, though, gets the benefit of taking on a guy who hasn’t played in the NFL but will miss one quarter of the season. While he may not have figured into the Steelers’ future plans as of this off-season, you can’t coach size, and Turner has plenty of that.

Turner was a Division II All America selection out of Abeline Christian in 2011.

Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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Frazier, Cowher, Mangini visiting troops in Persian Gulf

Vikings coach Leslie Frazier is spending some of his limited relaxation time doing anything but relaxing. Frazier is the only active head coach to participate in this year’s USO tour to the Persian Gulf.  He has been joined by former Steelers head coach Bill Cowher, former Jets and Browns head coach Eric Mangini, and Jets…

Source: ProFootballTalk » Pittsburgh Steelers

Mike Adams making up for lost time this offseason

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The Steelers have given rookie tackle Mike Adams a clear path to the starting left tackle job, but he’s still going to have to prove he can handle the role this summer. Adams had to navigate his first stumbling blocks this spring thanks to the NFL’s rule barring players from joining their drafted teams until…

Source: ProFootballTalk » Pittsburgh Steelers

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Former Steelers Undrafted Tackle Trevis Turner Suspended Four Games

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It was a little bit of a shock this past off-season when the Steelers waived tackle Trevis Turner from the roster in mid May, but now we might know the reason why. Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports via Twitter that Turner, now a free agent, has been suspended for the first four games of the 2012 season for an unspecified reason.

Turner was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Steelers last off-season out of Abilene Christian and he spent his rookie season on the Steelers practice squad. Turner was signed back to the expanded off-season roster following the Read more […]

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Troy Polamalu is Highest Ranked Pittsburgh Steeler, but Isn’t Steel City’s MVP

Troy Polamalu is the best player on the Pittsburgh Steelers, according to the players in the NFL, and is the 19th best player in the league. Polamalu, who was ranked sixth on last year’s NFL’s top 100 list, is the second highest ranked safety on the top 100, only behind Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed.
In his ninth year, the former University of Southern California Trojan recorded 91 tackles, two interceptions, one sack, and one fumble recovery.
The 2010 Defensive Player of the Year joined fellow Steelers James Harrison (#29), Ben Roethlisberger (#30), Mike Wallace (#47), Maurkice Pouncey (#49), and LaMarr Woodley (#63) on the top 100.
I know the list has Polamalu 11 spots above Roethlisberger, but the reality is that Big Ben is the most valuable player in Pittsburgh. If Polamalu wasn’t a part of the Steelers, the defense wouldn’t be as dominant, but they would still thrive off Harrison, Woodley, and even other defensive backs like Ryan Clark.
The Steelers without Roethlisberger wou…

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Antonio Brown sends jersey to Hall of Fame

Plenty of football still needs to be played before we know whether Steelers receiver Antonio Brown will have a shot at making it to the Hall of Fame.  But he’ll at least have a jersey there. According to Hugh Bernreuter of MLive.com, the black-with-white-numbers shirt Brown wore on January 1 against the Browns now resides…

Source: ProFootballTalk » Pittsburgh Steelers

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