Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Dec. 13

Let's get to it:

MATT RAYNAK FROM GRANBY, CO:
Seeing how the league seems to want to remove all of the celebrations (especially after touchdowns), is there any reason the penalty for such an act of unforgivable joy isn't enforced on the PAT attempt instead of on the ensuing kickoff? Most of these monster-legged kickers can still boot it out of the end zone even after the penalty yardage is assessed, and with the number of missed PATs so far, why not force the teams to actually suffer when their players commit such a reprehensible display of exuberance?

ANSWER: Even though I have no solid information to support my contention, I believe the NFL is going to pull back on making its game officials the Celebration Police moving forward, quite possibly as early as the 2017 season. To me, the tipping point could end up being the "snow angel" issue. A couple of weeks ago, in separate games across the NFL landscape, there were two players who both chose to celebrate touchdowns by going to the ground and taking advantage of an early December snowfall by making a snow angel. In one game, the act was penalized as an excessive celebration; in the other game, it was not. The next day, NFL officiating czar Dean Blandino admitted that officials are given a measure of discretion in making excessive celebration calls, and that indicated to me that there is no unanimity/consistency even in the thinking behind the enforcement of the rules against these "reprehensible displays of exuberance." As a result, I predict that after a season of declining television ratings, the NFL decides to backtrack on this silliness.

DONNA WALDRON FROM DERRY, PA:
Did kickoff time change for the Baltimore vs. Steelers game on Dec 25? My tickets say 4:30 p.m., but I heard it got changed to 1 p.m.

ANSWER: You heard wrong, and I'm going to make this point just this one final time. Ravens at Steelers cannot change from its previously scheduled/announced 4:30 p.m. kickoff time. CANNOT change.

BRUCE WILSON FROM MEMPHIS, TN:
It was a first-and-15 on the Buffalo 20-yard line. The Bills had the ball. Tyrod Taylor dropped back to throw, and under pressure from the Steelers rush, he threw the ball into the ground. The ball did not get back to the line of scrimmage. Why was this not intentional grounding?

ANSWER: The play you reference was an attempt at a screen pass, and because Steelers defenders were mixed in with the blockers for the screen the play had no chance to succeed. Taylor threw the ball at the feet of the back who was the intended receiver. The ball did not reach the line of scrimmage, but because there was an eligible receiver in the immediate vicinity of where the ball was thrown, there is no penalty for intentional grounding.

DEE CRAWFORD FROM COOKEVILLE, TN:
Just wondering what you think of the Steelers-Bengals game getting flexed out of the Sunday night time slot considering how many fans the Steelers have all over this country and the world. They always bring in ratings. There are even many Steelers fans right here where I live. The NFL may be sorry they decided to air Dallas two Sunday nights in a row after the way the Cowboys played against the Giants, a team we managed to beat last week. I know I am not happy as a Sunday night game would allow me to watch the game live.

ANSWER: From a personal standpoint, from the standpoint of what's better for the Steelers players and coaches, playing at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 18, is more beneficial than playing at 8:30 p.m. that day. It's more beneficial because the weekend after playing the Bengals, the Steelers face the Ravens on Christmas Day in a game likely to determine the AFC North Division champion, and the earlier kickoff will allow the coaches to start that week on a normal time schedule instead of not getting back to Pittsburgh until after midnight. That's one perspective. The other perspective is yours, a fan's. The league's flexing policy is designed to offer the majority of football fans – and NBC – the best possible matchup, but for fans of a specific team it can create a huge disappointment.

NATHAN PALMER FROM CLEVELAND, OH:
I'm sure we can all agree that in general, NFL Network's lists are bogus and only designed to create debate and attract attention, and I'm aware that this only furthers that. However, my question is this: setting aside all biases, which interception can be said to be objectively better – William Gay's pick-six in Super Bowl XLIII or Malcolm Butler's interception for the Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX?

ANSWER: I don't know about "objectively better," but James Harrison returned his interception 100 yards for a touchdown to complete a magnificent play that just reeked of desire. After making his interception, Malcolm Butler simply fell to the ground.

LAZARO BROITMAN FROM SAN JOSE, COSTA RICA:
I read on Friday that we lost sixth-round draft pick Travis Feeney from our practice squad. I loved this pick because Feeney was a very different outside linebacker – a tall, smart, and athletic player, who unfortunately was reported to be not yet ready for a spot on the active roster. What are your thoughts about this loss? Will the Steelers be compensated?

ANSWER: The Steelers have been desperate for production from their outside linebackers since the start of OTAs in May, and I'm convinced that had Travis Feeney showed them that he was on the cusp of becoming a productive outside linebacker they would have done something to get him on the 53-man roster. And no, there is no compensation to a team losing a player from its practice squad.

MICHAEL K. JOHNSON, SR FROM NEWPORT NEWS, VA:
All I want for Christmas is for my team to draft Jabril Peppers as a strong safety and the rest will be history.

ANSWER: I suspect you may be viewing the world through maize-and-blue-colored glasses. In 27 college games, Jabril Peppers had one interception, three sacks, and 11 passes defensed. That's hardly the level of production to make a college player highly attractive to an NFL team as a strong safety. I believe Peppers is going to turn out to be something of a man-without-a-position in the NFL, because he's OK as a defensive back, and he's not skilled enough to be a receiver or running back.

KEVIN HEARD FROM CHESAPEAKE, VA:
I'm a huge admirer of this series and can hardly wait for the next edition of Asked and Answered each week. Are you as knowledgeable as it appears, or are you forced to research a lot of your answers?

ANSWERS: One of the first things I learned as a journalist was that it's not important to know all the answers, but it is important to know where to go to find all the answers.


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