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Asked and Answered: Dec. 14

Posted Dec 14, 2017

Another installment of Bob Labriola answering your questions about the Steelers and the NFL.

Let’s get to it:

NICK PHILLIPS FROM ATLANTA, GA:
How many quarterbacks in NFL history have had 500-yard passing games? And have any of them, other than Ben Roethlisberger, done it more than once?

ANSWER: There are eight active quarterbacks who have passed for 500 yards in a game: Philip Rivers, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady, Matthew Stafford, Eli Manning, Matt Schaub, and Matt Ryan. Brees has done it twice, but Roethlisberger is the only quarterback who has done it three times. Others who have passed for 500 yards in a game include Norm Van Brocklin, Warren Moon, Boomer Esiason, Dan Marino, Phil Simms, Vince Ferragamo, Y.A. Tittle, Elvis Grbac, and Tony Romo.

PAUL MARINACCIO FROM FRANKLIN LAKES, NJ:
Do you know why, on the last two plays from scrimmage for the Steelers in the game against the Ravens, they chose to pass and take the risk of a sack, interception, or stopping the clock with an incompletion, instead of running the clock down so Baltimore would have no chance of making a winning field goal.

ANSWER: First of all, that’s a decision that is made by the head coach, not the offensive coordinator, and by that I mean a decision on whether to call plays to run out the clock, or to make an opponent use its timeouts, or to continue to attack. In that situation, a couple of running plays likely would have led to Chris Boswell attempting a 46-yard field goal for the walk-off win, and it was cold and windy at that time of night. The idea was to try to use the pass either to score a touchdown – which have meant the Ravens then would’ve needed a touchdown – or to get Boswell a shorter field goal attempt for the win. The thinking behind going for the touchdown there was that the defense wasn’t having a lot of success stopping the Ravens offense at the time, and that Justin Tucker has a lot of range as a field goal kicker. It didn’t work, but that was the thinking behind the decision.

NARAYAN IYER FROM SOUTH GRAFTON, MA:
Can you please explain what "possession downs" mean?

ANSWER: A possession down is a down upon which continued possession of the football is at stake. Third downs, in a situation where if the offense doesn’t convert it would punt. Fourth downs, in all situations. Those are possession downs, and they’re referred to as such for both the offense and the defense.

KENNY AINSWORTH FROM CAMINO, CA:
I never bought into Ryan Shazier as a safety, but would it be far-fetched to move T.J. Watt to his spot and put James Harrison at outside linebacker?

ANSWER: Yes, it would. Why do fans believe you can take a guy, such as T.J. Watt, and move him to a position he never has played in his life and do it in the middle of a season and have it work seamlessly?

PABLO MELENDEZ FROM CHICAGO, IL:
My question is in regards to Antonio Brown. What are his statistics in the playoffs? And doesn't MVP mean how valuable a player is to his team? If so, Brown should win hands down.

ANSWER: In nine career playoff games, Antonio Brown has 44 catches for 705 yards (16.0 average) and two touchdowns. As for the second part of your question, part of the issue is that MVP means different things to different people. To some, it means most valuable, but to others it means the best player. And then what it all comes down to is what does MVP mean to the people who have the right to vote for this award and then which player do they believe best fits their definition. I never wrote that Brown isn’t deserving, or worthy. I wrote that I didn’t think he’d get the votes.

DANIEL SUNSERI FROM PITTSBURGH, PA:
Can you tell if the ratings for the Sunday and Monday might games with the Steelers were higher than the average?

ANSWER: Let’s start with Steelers at Bengals on Monday, Dec. 4. According to deadline.com, “A bruising and often brutal battle between rivals the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals last night on the Disney-owned cable station delivered a 7.8 result in metered market ratings. With the Steelers winning 23-20, the rating is a jump up of 30 percent in the early numbers both from last week’s low MNF and the equivalent game of Dec. 5, 2016.”

And this from profootballtalk.com: “As to Week 13 of the 2017 regular season, multiple key TV numbers jumped dramatically in comparison to Week 13 of the 2016 regular season. According to SportsBusiness Journal, the ratings for NBC’s Sunday Night Football (Eagles-Seahawks) showed a 14-percent increase over last year’s Week 13 prime-time game, which pitted the Panthers against Seattle. It was the third straight week that Sunday Night Football has seen a year-to-year ratings bump. The Monday night numbers improved even more significantly, with Steelers-Bengals driving a 30-percent increase over last year’s Colts-Jets game.”

Now, for the Sunday night game between the Steelers and Ravens. This is from bizjournals.com:

“The dramatic Ravens-Steelers clash drew an 11.6 overnight rating, NBC's lowest Week 14 figure for "Sunday Night Football" since 2008. The game was down 30 percent from the Dallas Cowboys-New York Giants "Sunday Night Football" game in Week 14 last year. Despite the drop off, the rivalry game was still a win among all networks on Sunday night, according to Nielsen data compiled by SportsBusiness Daily, a sister publication of the BBJ. Pittsburgh led all markets with a 44.4 local rating. Baltimore was second with a 30.8 local rating, meaning 30.8 percent of all households in the Baltimore area with a television were tuned into the game. Nationally, the game peaked early at a 12.0 rating from 9:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.”

CJ WRIGHT FROM MONACA, PA:
Knowing that under two minutes remaining, if there is an injury to a player, that team is charged a timeout. What happens if under two minutes a team doesn't have any timeouts and there is an injury stoppage?

ANSWER: In the situation you describe, there is a 10-second runoff on the game clock.

CHRIS GHOLSTON FROM DALLAS, TX:
It appears as though Martavis Bryant is not separating from defenders and that he does not have the same burst that he did prior to being suspended for the 2016 season. Is he 100 percent healthy? If so, perhaps I am “mis-remembering.”

ANSWER: Martavis Bryant has not appeared on any injury reports that I can recall, but allow me to present another possibility: because he was so adept at getting behind the coverage, maybe opponents have made adjustments in the way they cover him and with whom they cover him to prevent that from happening as often and as easily as it did in the past.

MIKE BALDASSARI FROM SALT LAKE CITY, UT:
I've never heard a discussion on the jersey numbers on the players’ helmets. They don't have numbers on the front of their helmets in camp, or the preseason, but once the season starts, the numbers appear on the front and back of their helmets. Is this kind of like "earning their stripes" as in players having to make the team, or is it something as simple as an equipment deal.

ANSWER: It’s about earning a spot on the team.

SEAN THAL FROM KAYSVILLE, UT
If the Steelers lose to the Patriots, and then both teams win their remaining regular season games, which team would be the No. 1 seed in the AFC Playoffs?

ANSWER: Under the scenario you describe, both teams would finish the regular season at 13-3. The first tiebreaker is head-to-head, and so New England would be the No. 1 seed.

BRYCE KYBURZ FROM AUSTIN, TX:
I looked at the Steelers schedule and since 2010 we have played the Browns on the final game of the season every season except 2014. We have defeated them every time as well, assuming we win this year. Is there an agreement between the two franchises to try to play each other for the finale and if so, why would the Browns agree to such a deal?

ANSWER: The NFL tries to schedule games between teams in the same division during the last couple of weeks of the regular season, with the idea there is a better chance for those end-of-season games to be meaningful. Franchises don’t make agreements regarding regular season games. The NFL takes charge of that.

RILEY ROBERTS FROM LELAND, NC:
With the abundance of quality defensive linemen coupled with all the injuries to linebackers, why not go to a 4-3 defense?

ANSWER: Excellent idea. They could make the switch today, and have it all ready for the Patriots on Sunday. I can assure you that changing an entire defensive scheme, with philosophies and responsibilities for 11 starters, not to mention substitutes, is not as easy as changing your shoes.




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