Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Dec. 24

Let's get to it:

A.J. BRAMMER FROM MADISON, IN: This question isn't really in your area of expertise per se, but with Christmas this week I figured I would ask. I have among my Grandpa's Steelers gear, a record titled "The Pittsburgh Steelers Sing the Holiday Classics" (or something of that nature). Do you have any details on that, specifically if it is actually the Steelers singing? Hope you have a very happy holiday season. This is the first season I've really followed Asked and Answered. Thank you for what you do.
ANSWER: The only information I could come up with regarding your Grandpa's collection is that in 1970, there was an album released that was titled, "The 1970 Pittsburgh Steelers Sing Holiday Halftime." It was under the Manlius Records label, the executive producer was Charles G. Nicholson, and the recording supervisor was John Sadler. There were 26 versions of this album released in 1970, one version for each of the NFL teams in existence at the time. The description of the album also included this sentence, "Other than Gene Mingo, none of the Pittsburgh Steelers players are mentioned by name." Mingo was in his final NFL season in 1970 as a placekicker, and he finished that year 17-for-17 on PATs and 5-for-18 (27.8 percent) on his field goal attempts.

ROBERT WARHOLAK FROM BAVARIA, GERMANY: After Week 15, the Steelers and the Titans were both 8-6, and the Steelers were the No. 6 seed in the AFC. Now after Week 16 the Steelers and the Titans are both 8-7, but it's the Titans now listed as the No. 6 seed. Could you please elaborate on how the complicated tiebreaking rules work?
ANSWER: I'm going to be honest with you: instead of trying to figure out the tiebreakers on my own, I simply allow the Elias Sports Bureau to handle all of the figuring and then I visit NFL.com to see the results. And I will now provide you with the list of tiebreakers for two teams in the Wild Card race, which is what would apply to the situation you describe regarding the Steelers and the Titans so you can see for yourself how complicated this can be: 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.

PETE GRUBLIK FROM GARWOOD NJ: In the game against the Jets, the Steelers were called for a neutral zone infraction. The defender jumped but got back and didn't make contact with an offensive player. And the only movement by the offensive line was them pointing at the defense. I thought that if a defensive player jumped offside he could get back across the line as long as he didn't make contact with a player. Or cause movement. When did they change the rule? Also I thought the NFL added a rule that a defender couldn't land on the quarterback with all his weight, which is how Mason Rudolph got knocked out of the game. Was that rule abolished as well? Or was that game yet another example of how poor NFL officiating has become?
ANSWER: The rule regarding neutral zone infractions has become something the offense has learned to use to its advantage. When the Steelers player flinched and seemed to enter the neutral zone, the Jets linemen immediately reacted and started pointing at him, which was enough movement on their part to draw the penalty. The rule is that if movement by the defense influences the offense to move, then the penalty is on the defense. As for the Jets pass-rushers landing on Mason Rudolph, it's still illegal but it's a common tactic used by a Gregg Williams defense. It should've been flagged but it wasn't, and even if it did draw a flag, it was a good trade by the Jets because they got the quarterback capable of leading the Steelers to a comeback win out of the game.

JEFF DAVENJAY FROM PURCELLVILLE, VA: The Steelers talent at quarterback is at best third-string caliber. With Ben Roethlisberger not a guarantee to be at full strength next year, how do the Steelers move forward with no real No. 2 quarterbacks on the roster?
ANSWER: I disagree with your assessment. Mason Rudolph can play at the NFL level, and if he wasn't injured by what in my opinion was an illegal hit vs. the Jets, I believe the Steelers are sitting at 9-6 today.

DAVID DEVIN FROM ST. AUGUSTINE, FL: Do you have an issue with Jack Lambert? I think he should be mentioned as the best Steelers player ever.
ANSWER: Jack Lambert was a great player. A key ingredient in those championship teams during the 1970s. Re-defined the way middle linebackers played, and he was very deserving of being elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. I just happen to be of the opinion that Jack Ham, whose 53 career takeaways is still the most for a non-defensive back in NFL history, was the best linebacker in franchise history. And if you think Lambert was more important to the Steelers than Joe Greene, I will kindly suggest you don't know what you're talking about.

DAVID BERGER FROM APISON, TN: With Mason Rudolph injured, and Devlin Hodges pretty well exposed, can we now at least take a look at Paxton Lynch? He may be terrible, but we at least should see what he can do. I know the playoffs are on the line, but we know Hodges cannot do it. So what if we lose and don't make the playoffs. Find out what you have in Lynch, and to me this is the perfect time to use him.
ANSWER: This is professional sports, and that means it's a business. "So what if we lose and don't make the playoffs." Maybe it doesn't mean anything to you, but there very well could be players on this team who are in their final seasons of pro football, or in their final season with the Steelers, and I can guarantee you that it means something to them. Your cavalier approach to something that is very serious to the people who have dedicated their lives to this sport/profession is borderline disrespectful. The time "to take a look at" any player is during the summer at training camp and during the preseason, and coaches who don't respect that are in danger of losing their teams and getting fired. If you coached for Dan Rooney and didn't play to win every game every season – meaning take it seriously and not as some experiment – you would get fired, or more accurately, you wouldn't get hired in the first place. One of the critical seasons in Bill Cowher's tenure with the Steelers was in 2003, a losing season that included many calls to use the final games of what would turn out to be a 6-10 season as either a way to enhance their position in the upcoming draft or as a glorified early start on training camp. Through all of the losing, Cowher coached to win, which started with playing the people he believed gave the team the best chance that particular week. That's how coaches earn and maintain the respect of their players, and I believe how Cowher handled 2003 set the stage for the success the team enjoyed in 2004 and 2005. If Paxton Lynch is judged to give the Steelers the best chance to win in Baltimore, then he should play. If not, come to Latrobe next summer "to see what he can do."

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