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Thread: Mike Wallace, Steelers receivers ready to match Packers' unit

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    Default Mike Wallace, Steelers receivers ready to match Packers' unit

    Mike Wallace, Steelers receivers ready to match Packers' unit
    By Gary Mihoces, USA TODAY

    PITTSBURGH In Pittsburgh's last Super Bowl, Santonio Holmes' tip toe catch made him MVP. Now minus Holmes, the Steelers' wide receivers include another Super Bowl MVP in Hines Ward, two rookies who've made plays and a guy who had a household name before he even entered the NFL Mike Wallace.

    That's not the Mike Wallace of "60 Minutes" fame. The Steelers' deep threat successor to Holmes is second-year pro Mike Wallace.

    Wallace, who will make his Super Bowl debut against the Green Bay Packers, has known since the start of this season that the pressure was on him as Holmes' successor.

    In the offseason, with Holmes facing a four-game suspension under the NFL's substance abuse policy, Pittsburgh traded him to the New York Jets.

    "He was a great player here, and it's some big shoes to fill," says Wallace, a third-round draft pick from Mississippi in 2009.

    "But I know what type of player I am myself and I know what type of confidence that I have in myself. I knew I was going to be fine."

    In regular season, Wallace led Pittsburgh with 60 catches for 1,257 yards and 10 touchdowns. In his rookie year as the third receiver behind Holmes and Ward, he had immediate impact: 39 catches, 756 yards and six touchdowns.

    "Last year, we had two great guys in front of me, and I was always the afterthought. I liked that situation, and I like the one I'm in a lot better now," says Wallace.

    His numbers so far in the playoffs have been meager: four catches for 26 yards in wins over the Baltimore Ravens and the Jets.

    But his presence on the field was a factor in key plays in both games by rookie receiver Antonio Brown.

    "It's going to be like that. It's the playoffs. I don't have a problem with it," says Holmes. "I think it's really opening up things for the other guys. So I'm happy."

    Late against Baltimore, Wallace drew double coverage down the left side. Brown grabbed a 58-yard pass down the right side to set up the Steelers' winning touchdown.

    Against the Jets, with Pittsburgh needing a first down to run out the clock, Wallace was on the field when Brown's diving 14-yard catch of a Ben Roethlisberger pass clinched the win.

    "I was in double coverage down the field, so I really wasn't an option," says Wallace.

    He saw Brown breaking open.

    "I had no doubt that he was going to catch the ball," says Wallace. "I just ran and jumped on him. I was happy. We're going to the Super Bowl.

    Brown is a sixth-round draft pick from Central Michigan. After catching 16 passes for 167 yards in the regular season, he's become more of a factor in the playoffs with four catches for 89 yard..

    Rookie Emmanuel Sanders had 28 catches for 376 yards and two touchdowns in the regular season. In the playoffs, the third-round pick from SMU has five catches for 74 yards.

    Ward, a 13-year veteran who's had six seasons of 1,000 yards-plus in receiving, had 59 catches for 755 yards and five TDs this season. The MVP of Super Bowl XL in the 2005 season has five catches for 39 yards and a touchdown this postseason.

    Roethlisberger says he's confident in all of the young receivers.

    "Those guys have done such a great job, speaking of Mike first of really growing from last year to this year," says Roethlisberger.

    "Obviously, everyone talks about how fast he is. (Steelers coach Mike) Tomlin teases him and calls him a one-trick pony. But he has done a great job of being able to do more than just run fast down the field. He is still growing. The sky is the limit."

    Wallace says of his sophomore season, "I think I'm a lot better this time. I think I can read coverages a lot better and run routes a lot better. It's just being more comfortable with what's going on."

    When Pittsburgh last played Green Bay in December 2009, the rookie Wallace caught the winning 19-yard touchdown pass as time expired in a 37-36 Steelers victory. He also had a 60-yard TD reception in that game.

    "I remember us winning the ball game," Wallace. " That was probably the best feeling I ever had besides (Sunday) night when we were going to the Super Bowl."

    Now, we'll see what he can do in Super Bowl XLV against the Packers.
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    Default Re: Mike Wallace, Steelers receivers ready to match Packers' unit

    I think the young guys are gonna do well. The big stage doesn't seem to big for these guys because it seems they are having too much fun to feel the pressure of it all. You gotta love their confidence in themselves.
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