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Asked and Answered: Nov. 23

Posted Nov 23, 2017

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

Let’s get to it:

MICHAEL CARNUCCI FROM MYRTLE BEACH, SC:
I do believe Cliff Stout also started between Terry Bradshaw and Ben Roethlisberger.

ANSWER: Here is the difference: You “believe” Cliff Stoudt started games for the Steelers between Terry Bradshaw’s retirement and Ben Roethlisberger’s arrival. I looked it up. Bradshaw retired on July 24, 1984, and at that time Stoudt was already a member of the USFL’s Birmingham Stallions. In four seasons with the Steelers, Stoudt started 16 games, with 15 of those coming in 1983, which was his final season with the team. And he started those 15 games in 1983 because Bradshaw had an elbow injury that eventually would turn out to be what sent him into retirement – in 1984. All of Stoudt’s starts with the Steelers came when Bradshaw was still on the roster.

JAMES LATTAKER FROM PERRY, GA:
In the Nov. 21 installment of Asked and Answered, a question was asked about which quarterbacks started games for the Steelers between Terry Bradshaw and Ben Roethlisberger. As a follow-up to that question, how many of those quarterbacks were first-round picks in the draft?

ANSWER: Just to refresh everyone’s memory, those quarterbacks who started for the Steelers after Terry Bradshaw’s retirement and before Ben Roethlisberger became the starter were: David Woodley, Mark Malone, Scott Campbell, Bubby Brister, Steve Bono, Todd Blackledge, Neil O’Donnell, Mike Tomczak, Jim Miller, Kordell Stewart, Kent Graham, and Tommy Maddox.

Mark Malone was a No. 1 pick by the Steelers in 1980; Todd Blackledge was a No. 1 pick by Kansas City in 1983; and Tommy Maddox was a No. 1 pick by the Denver Broncos in 1992.

MIKE KIRKHAM FROM POCATELLO, ID:
During the Titans game, T.J. Watt blocked a field goal. Why was that not a live ball?

ANSWER: Once the blocked field goal crossed the line of scrimmage, the only way it becomes a live ball is if it’s touched by a player on the team that blocked the kick, which is considered the defensive team in that situation. That’s why Ryan Shazier ran and stood over the ball but didn’t touch it. If the Titans didn’t pay attention, he could have picked it up and advanced it, but if he touched it and lost control, the Titans could have recovered the ball and gotten a fresh set of downs from the spot of the recovery.

CHIFFON VALENTINE FROM LOS ANGELES, CA:
How many and which players have appeared in a Super Bowl with the Steelers? I say seven: Ben Roethlisberger, James Harrison, Marcus Gilbert, Ramon Foster, Antonio Brown, Maurkice Pouncey, and Will Gay. Right?

ANSWER: Wrong. The Steelers’ most recent appearance in a Super Bowl came at the conclusion of the 2010 season. Marcus Gilbert was a second-round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. Maurkice Pouncey, a rookie on the 2010 Steelers, was placed on the injured reserve list with a high ankle sprain a couple of days before Super Bowl XLV, and so I’ll let you decide whether that qualifies him as having “appeared in a Super Bowl with the Steelers” or not, but Gilbert was still at the University of Florida.

STEVE FALL FROM MANTUA, OH:
If a defensive player is penalized for a “hit to the head” on the quarterback or a defenseless receiver, why wouldn't the player who was hit have to enter the concussion protocol right away if it was so severe that it warranted a flag?

ANSWER: The severity of the hit is not supposed to have anything to do with whether a penalty is called. It’s supposed to be about whether the crown of the helmet was used, whether the defender launched himself, etc. Based on the rules, it’s perfectly possible for a mild hit to draw a penalty flag, or for a violent hit to be perfectly legal.

MIKE  LEACH FROM COSHOCTON, OH:
During the 2016 draft, I thought there were better names out there for the defensive line than Javon Hargrave, but that's why I'm not employed by the Steelers. As the year passed, Javon sure proved me wrong. His play was exceptional. I felt he would pick up this year where he left off last season. I don't notice him as much. Is he banged up, or did he loose his starting spot?

ANSWER: The first thing to consider is that as a nose tackle, Javon Hargrave typically is not on the field whenever the Steelers go into their sub-packages on defense, which is more than 50 percent of the time. It has been estimated the Steelers are in their base 3-4 alignment about 33 percent of the time. Also, Hargrave finished his rookie season with 27 tackles and two sacks, and through 10 games in 2017 he has 24 tackles and two sacks. You may not be noticing Hargrave, but I am.

BRIAN HORENSKY FROM KENOSHA, WI:
Regarding the 1972 Divisional Playoff vs. the undefeated Miami Dolphins: I always wondered why that game was played in Pittsburgh. Record obviously wasn't the criteria for home field advantage.

ANSWER: First of all, that game was the 1972 AFC Championship Game, because the 1972 AFC Divisional Round Game was against Oakland in what has come to be known as the Immaculate Reception game. There was no Wild Card Round back then. The NFL began awarding home field advantage in the playoffs based on teams’ regular season records starting in 1975, but before that, the sites were based on a predetermined rotation by division, the same way Major League Baseball used to award home-field advantage in the World Series. In 1972, it was the AFC Central Division’s turn to play the host, which is why the undefeated Dolphins played for the AFC Championship at Three Rivers Stadium.

BILL WILLIS FROM LETHBRIDGE, ALBERTA, CANADA:
I told a friend there used to be a player for the Steelers with my name, and he said I was crazy. Am I crazy, or am I right?

ANSWER: Since you’re only half-right, that must make you half crazy. The player’s name was Keith Willis, a defensive end from Northeastern, who still is sixth on the team’s all-time sacks list with 59, not Bill Willis. There is, however, a Bill Willis enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. At 6-foot-2, 213 pounds, Willis was a two-way lineman who played his college football at Ohio State under Paul Brown. When Brown founded the Cleveland Browns of the All-America Football Conference in 1946, Willis joined his former college coach. He played for the Browns from 1946-53, and was a starter when that franchise joined the NFL for the 1950 season. Willis was inducted into the Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 1977.

GARY WHITAKER FROM LEETSDALE HEIGHTS, PA:
Kam Chancellor will be a free agent next year.  Even though the trading deadline has passed, can teams enter into binding agreements now for trades once the window reopens in the future?

ANSWER: Incorrect. Kam Chancellor will not be a free agent next year, because he is signed with Seattle through the 2020 NFL season. And teams cannot enter into a binding agreement for a trade once the window reopens in the future.

JAMES GROSS FROM ROSWELL, GA:
When the Steelers were penalized for delay of game while attempting a 2-point conversion and the ball then was moved back to the 7-yard line, could they at that point change their mind and decide to kick for one point instead?

ANSWER: Yes. The penalty would be assessed from the 15-yard line, and then the PAT would be attempted. Just so you know, that same option is available for the offense. As an example, with the ball at the 15-yard line for a PAT attempt, the defense jumps offside. The team that just scored the touchdown can elect to take a half-the-distance penalty from the 2-yard line and then go for a 2-point conversion.

BRETT ALEXANDER FROM EBENSBURG, PA:
My crystal ball tells me we are headed for a Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia Super Bowl. I'm just wondering how we have fared in historical matchups vs. the Eagles.

ANSWER: The Steelers and Eagles have faced each other 78 times, with Philadelphia owning a 48-27-3 advantage in the series. There was one postseason meeting – in 1947 when both teams finished 8-4 in the Eastern Division, there was a one-game playoff for the right to advance to the NFL Championship Game. The Eagles won, 21-0, and they advanced to the NFL Championship Game, where they lose to the Chicago Cardinals, 28-21.

One final note: If your crystal ball is correct, and it’s Steelers vs. Eagles in the Super Bowl, it would mark the fourth neutral site meeting between the teams in series history. In 1936, they played in Johnstown, Pa.; in then in 1938, they played the first game of the home-and-home series in Buffalo, and the second of the home-and-home series in Charleston, WV.




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