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Thread: Wallace proving to be more than a 'one-trick pony'

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    Default Wallace proving to be more than a 'one-trick pony'

    Wallace proving to be more than a 'one-trick pony'
    November 25, 2010
    Herald Standard

    PITTSBURGH - Four weeks ago, Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians was asked whether he might give his famous "one-trick pony," Mike Wallace, a few extra deep passes to help Wallace celebrate his homecoming game in New Orleans.

    "He needs to start taking some shorter ones to the house," said Arians.

    Wallace didn't get around to doing that until the Steelers beat the Oakland Raiders a few days ago.

    On the first play of the fourth quarter Sunday, Wallace somehow found himself running with a linebacker in coverage just past the line of scrimmage. So Ben Roethlisberger threw him a little 3-yard pass that Wallace turned into a 52-yard touchdown.

    How's that for being a one-trick pony?

    Mike Tomlin has called Wallace the nickname ever since he saw him run under his first deep pass with the Steelers. But after the catch-and-run against Oakland, Tomlin was asked if he might begin calling Wallace by another nickname.

    "Not yet," said Tomlin. "He's going to have to show me more than that play he showed me on Sunday."

    A reporter relayed to Tomlin that Wallace had suggested after the game he be called "Bag of Tricks."

    "He's got a lot of suggestions," Tomlin said. "I suggest that he prepare for the Buffalo Bills."

    No love. Not even for one of the hottest wide receivers in the game.

    In the last three games, Wallace has caught 16 passes for 362 yards (22.6 average) and 4 touchdowns. By comparison, the NFL's receiving rage of the moment, Santonio Holmes of the New York Jets, has 17 catches for 316 yards (18.6) and 3 touchdowns during the same span.

    Of course, Holmes has made game-winning plays in each of those three games. Last week, his 6-yard touchdown catch with 10 seconds left beat the Houston Texans. The previous week his 37-yard touchdown catch with 16 seconds left in overtime beat the Cleveland Browns. And in the game prior to that, Holmes's 52-yard catch in overtime set up the field goal that beat the Detroit Lions.

    Wallace has made all four of his touchdown catches in the fourth quarter, but he hasn't done it at crunch time like the guy he replaced in the Steelers' lineup this season.

    Wallace, of course, knows about Holmes's recent heroics.

    "That's my guy. I love Tone, so I'm always watching him," Wallace said. "We're always texting and calling each other, so we stay in touch all the time. I'm happy for him."

    And the Steelers are happy for Wallace. They dealt Holmes and promoted Wallace from the No. 3 WR spot to the starting split end position that Holmes had held for 3-plus seasons.

    Wallace has responded by catching 6 touchdown passes of 40 yards or more and by becoming the first Steelers receiver since Hines Ward in 2005 to put together three consecutive 100-yard games. If Wallace does either of the above on Sunday in Buffalo, he'll have a team record.

    In fact, Wallace only needs 5 more touchdown catches in the final 6 games to set a team record with 13 touchdown catches in a season.

    Is the second-year player even aware he's approaching these records?

    "Not really," he said. "I don't pay attention to that. I just play football. Those things will come when you're doing well, so I just try to do well."

    With 33 catches at a league-leading average of 23.0 per catch, Wallace clearly is doing well. So, why does Tomlin insist on the derisive nickname? Is it simply a motivational ploy?

    "Mike's still young. To be doing all the great things he's doing at a young age is amazing," said Hines Ward. "But you guys don't see all the stuff we could get better on: the route running, the getting in and out of cuts. The more he develops, the better he's going to make everybody because it's going to be very hard to defend him when he's running underneath stuff like that."

    "He's just been calling me that so long that he's going to continue," said Wallace. "But that's cool as tea. Hey, I'm with it. I like that. It just presents a challenge for me every week to go out and prove him wrong. If that's what he has to do to make me a better player, that's what it is. I don't have a problem with him saying it. I hope to change it. Eventually he will, because I'm going to continue to strive and do different things with my game."
    "You only have one life, and you will not get out alive. Make the most of your time and have no regrets." - Me.

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    Default Re: Wallace proving to be more than a 'one-trick pony'

    Steelers' Wallace torching opponents
    Friday, November 26, 2010
    By Bill Brink, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    The game has slowed down for one of the NFL's fastest receivers.

    Mike Wallace, capable of speeding by most defensive backs, has stepped into the opening Santonio Holmes' departure created and filled it well. His 23 yards per catch are second in the NFL, and the only player above him, San Diego's Richard Grossman has caught only one pass (for 25 yards).

    Wallace's 33 receptions tie him with Hines Ward for the team lead, but he has scored eight touchdowns, four more than Ward, and his 759 receiving yards already surpassed his total from last season.

    "I'm just seeing things a lot more clearly now," he said. "Last year, I was just flying around trying to be in the right spot at the right time."

    [IMGR][/IMGR]Last week against the Oakland Raiders, Wallace caught three passes, converting them into 116 yards and a touchdown. He has 405 yards and four touchdowns in his past four games and became the first Steelers receiver to catch touchdown passes in three consecutive games in the past five years. The touchdown against the Raiders -- a 52-yarder -- came on a short pass, a departure from his usual long receptions.

    If he has 100 yards receiving Sunday against the Buffalo Bills, he will break the team record for consecutive 100-yard games. He currently is tied with Ward at three.

    "I don't really pay attention to that," he said. "I just play football. Those things occur when you're doing well. If those things come, then that's what it is."

    Wallace's improvement resulted partly from increased opportunity. Holmes' departure opened a spot across the field from Ward, and Wallace grabbed it. With that experience, Wallace said, the game has slowed down for him.

    "Now I'm learning the timing of everything, so I have time to do certain things with my routes," he said. "I'm learning the whole offense now. It makes things a lot easier."

    He has not learned enough to shelve coach Mike Tomlin's moniker for him: "one-trick pony," Tomlin calls him, referring to his deep routes. Wallace likes it, though.

    "I think it's just, he always wants to keep me on my toes and doesn't want me to get satisfied," Wallace said. "I want him to be on me. I want coach to be stubborn like that."

    Wallace credited Ward with helping him tune his skills and uncover new abilities such as perfecting his route-running as well as helping with life in general.

    "It's never been about one thing," Wallace said. "Not just with football, just about everything. About your business, about everything. I love having him around."

    As much as improved route-running can help Wallace and the offense, his speed creates problems for both those covering him and the rest of the defense. Wallace keeps defenses from positioning too many defenders near the line of scrimmage to stop the run lest he face single coverage.

    "We have to have an awareness of him at all times, especially with how well he's playing and his ability to stretch the field," Bills linebacker Paul Posluszny said. "Our corners are going to have to do a great job of matching up on him, and, whether we have seven or eight guys in the box, we're going to have to make sure that we're able to control the line of scrimmage and control the run game."

    By forcing the defense to keep an eye on him, Wallace creates holes for the rest of the offense.

    "The more and more he continues to do that, he's going to open up things for me underneath," Ward said.

    "It takes a little bit of the double coverage off some of the other guys."

    Wallace said the next step in his progression is to emulate Ward in a different way -- by throwing crushing blocks against defenders.

    "Trying to lay some people out like Ward. Trying to kill some folks," he said. "No fines, though."

    He wants to improve his performance without the ball, from blocking to his routes when he is not the first or second read to competing every play, regardless of the call.

    "You got to be in control," he said.

    "You can't just run fast all the time."
    "You only have one life, and you will not get out alive. Make the most of your time and have no regrets." - Me.

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