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Asked and Answered: Nov. 30

Posted Nov 30, 2017

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

Let’s get to it:

H.C. PETLEY FROM CORTEZ, CO:
The Steelers have had a number of reliable kickers win games for them over the decades. Which one has the longest field in the regular season? In the playoffs? In the Super Bowl?

ANSWER: The record for the longest field goal in franchise history is 55 yards and is held jointly by Kris Brown and Gary Anderson. Brown’s kick came on Oct. 14, 2001 in Kansas City, and Anderson’s kick came on Nov. 25, 1984 vs. San Diego. The longest field goal in Steelers’ playoff history is 50 yards and also is held jointly, this time by Anderson and Norm Johnson. Anderson’s kick came on Dec. 31, 1989 in Houston, and Johnson’s kick came on Dec. 29, 1996 vs. Indianapolis. The Steelers’ record for the longest field goal in a Super Bowl is 46 yards by Norm Johnson. That kick came in the Super Bowl XXX loss to Dallas on Jan. 28, 1996.

RALPH LYTLE FROM NAPLES, FL:
When is the projected date for JuJu Smith-Schuster to return to the active roster and play?

ANSWER: A point of clarification: JuJu Smith-Schuster was inactive for the game against Green Bay last weekend, but he was still on the active roster. Here is what Mike Tomlin said Tuesday about the status of the Steelers’ injured players:

Joe Haden will be out again this week. I don’t have any clarity on his situation or when he’ll return. Really, as we get close I’ll ask more definitive questions about where he is. I’m not close enough yet. He’s out this week. Two guys who missed the game last week who definitely have a chance this week are Vance McDonald and JuJu Smith-Schuster. Both guys missed the last game, both guys have an opportunity to play this week. As always, their practice participation and the quality of that participation will be our guide. We have a couple of guys who have ongoing issues or in-game issues – Ryan Shazier and Mike Mitchell, with their ankle injuries. But both guys should be fine. They may be limited at the early portions of the week but should be ready for play.”

JACOB SKARLIS FROM ALBANY, NY:
Say the Steelers didn’t play the Patriots on Dec. 17 and didn’t have a regular season game against them. If both teams finished with the same record atop the AFC, what would the tiebreakers be to decide the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds?

ANSWER: Here are the tiebreakers for that situation, and as you can see, head-to-head is first. But in the situation you describe, just skip down to No. 2:

1. Head-to-head, if applicable.
2. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.
3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games, minimum of four.
4. Strength of victory.
5. Strength of schedule.
6. Best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed.
7. Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed.
8. Best net points in conference games.
9. Best net points in all games.
10. Best net touchdowns in all games.
11. Coin toss.

VAL MCMORRIS FROM TYLER, TX:
Is it possible to get home field advantage without a first round bye?

ANSWER: When you mention home-field advantage, I’m assuming you mean through the entire AFC Playoffs. If that’s in fact when you do mean, then the answer is no. If you mean hosting a single playoff game, the answer is yes, because each team that wins its division championship gets to host its first playoff game of the postseason.

TONY EVANS FROM SUWANEE, GA:
The Steelers have never had a true threat in the return game. Do you foresee them addressing this need in the draft?

ANSWER: The way things are in the NFL, a returner – either for punts or kickoffs – has to be able to make the roster at an offensive or defensive position as well. Using a draft pick on a pure return specialist wouldn’t seem to me to be a high priority, especially with the way the NFL is instituting rules that are making kickoff returns obsolete.

DAVID POFF FROM TOCCOA, GA:
Assuming the Steelers win the AFC North Division and beat New England on Dec. 17, and the two would meet again for the AFC Championship, would this give Pittsburgh home-field advantage for the AFC Championship Game?

ANSWER: Most likely, but the Steelers would have to do those things and also finish the regular season with an overall won-loss record that was either better or the same as New England’s to host the Patriots in any potential playoff game.

DAVID NELMES FROM MONMOUTHSHIRE, WALES:
I recently bought a Steelers hat from NFL Online Europe as there are two Raiders fans and a Redskins fan who sit near me at my local soccer matches (if their hats are anything to go by). I thought I'm not having this. Anyway, do the Steelers get a cut of my purchase?

ANSWER: All 32 NFL franchise share equally in all proceeds from the sale of merchandise when those sales are generated through the NFL. So, the Steelers got a cut in the sale of the Steelers hat you bought, but also in the sales of those Raiders hats and Redskins hat, too. Revenue generated by merchandise sold by the individual teams are not shared.

GEORGE FARR FROM KULPMONT, PA:
When the Steelers go to their four wide receivers set, you have Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Martavis Bryant. Who is their fourth wide receivers usually in this set?

ANSWER: It depends upon the particular play that was called and what package the coaches believe will be most effective when it comes to executing that particular play. And that’s really the case at the wide receiver position all the time. Wide receivers are not deployed in any set way based on depth chart position, but instead they go into the game as part of personnel packages set by the coaches to execute plays in particular situations.

GUS MCRAY FROM SAN DIEGO, CA:
I see a few players wearing what seem to be pouches of sort behind their backs during the game. Would you please explain why?

ANSWER: Those are to keep their hands warm in November, December, and January. Being from San Diego, I imagine you don’t have much need for that. I’m jealous.

JIM BRYAN FROM JACKSON, TN:
With Cameron Sutton healthy, why is he not getting more playing time as a cornerback and kick returner? I’ve watched him at the University of Tennessee, and he is definitely a playmaker.

ANSWER: You do realize this is the NFL and not the SEC, right? Vanderbilt isn’t on the Steelers’ schedule. Cam Sutton hasn’t played any professional football except for a handful of snaps in a preseason game and that likely was against a bunch of guys who got cut. More playing time? I’m surprised he was even active last weekend, based on all the practice time he’s missed. Patience.

HUNTER SHARPE FROM CULLMAN, AL:
What is your screening process for the questions you answer? Is it just the first ones you see, or do you read all of them and only pick the ones worth mentioning?

ANSWER: If I only used the ones worth mentioning, some installments of Asked and Answered wouldn’t be very long. I read them all. It’s part of my penance.




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