Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Dec. 6

Let's get to it:

JOE WOODLEY FROM TRAFFORD, PA:
Lots of talk after the game about whether Sean Davis should have batted the ball down or intercepted it on that fourth down play early in the fourth quarter. I personally don't see how a defensive back could bat that ball down, because it was an easy interception, and then you try to score. Where are you on intercept vs. bat it down?

ANSWER: I understand the thinking behind batting the ball down, being that it was fourth down and the pass was thrown relatively deep down the field. The difference in field position can be a significant issue. All of that is correct, but you asked for my opinion, and here it is: I want these young defensive backs to develop an intercept-the-ball mind-set, and so any time they have a chance at the football I want them to go and get it. Batting it down is fine. It reflects an awareness of the situation. But I would never scold a player for making an interception. I just wouldn't.

PATRICK LLOYD FROM LONDON, UK:
Regarding Sean Davis' interception of Eli Manning on fourth down, I wanted to clarify the rule as a non-American. Is it not the case that Davis would in most situations be better to bat the ball away after a long throw on fourth down so the Steelers could take the ball over from where the quarterback has thrown it, or do defenses always prefer to try and go for a pick-six even though it may sometimes result in less net yards gained? I do realize that the point was moot in this situation because of the penalty on Artie Burns, and the fact Davis on this occasion got past the spot from where Manning had thrown the ball.

ANSWER: Just a bit of clarification on your understanding of the rule. Had Sean Davis batted the ball down, the Steelers would have taken possession at the previous line of scrimmage, not at the spot where Eli Manning had thrown the ball. The previous line of scrimmage was the 35-yard line, and before the return was nullified by the illegal block penalty on Artie Burns, Davis had returned the interception to the 47-yard line. As I explained in the previous answer, it's not incorrect in any way to advocate batting the ball down, but my personal philosophy would be never to criticize a defensive back for making an interception.

Take a look at the best photos from the Week 13 game against the Giants. The Steelers defeated the Giants 24-14.

RUSSELL WALKER FROM CATONSVILLE, MD:
The Ravens have already worn their color rush jerseys on a Thursday night game. Will they wear regular jerseys against us or do they get to wear theirs twice?

ANSWER: It's the home team's choice in all jersey situations, and therefore the Steelers will wear their color rush jerseys on Dec. 25. For that game, the Steelers will be in all black, and so that would make it impossible for the Ravens to wear their color rush uniforms, which are all purple. The Ravens will be in white on Dec. 25.

LORI VERNA FROM NORTH HUNTINGDON, PA:
Is it possible the Ravens game will be flexed to Sunday night?

ANSWER: There will be two games played on Christmas Day – Baltimore at Pittsburgh at 4:30 p.m. and Denver at Kansas City at 8:30 p.m. NFL Network is broadcasting Ravens-Steelers, and NBC has Broncos-Chiefs. The times of those games are locked, and the only thing that could be changed is the network handling the broadcast. In other words, Ravens-Steelers could get moved to NBC but kickoff will not change from 4:30 p.m.

ROB JEFFREY FROM BRADFORD, PA:
I am really impressed with the rookies this year. Artie Burns and Sean Davis are really growing into their roles. I am also impressed with the defense as a whole and two thumbs up to their fourth-down defense. I do have a question about William Gay. His role has diminished as the season has progressed and he seems to have taken a step backwards. Is this my imagination, is it injury related, or is he just getting older? Or none of the above?

ANSWER: I don't agree that William Gay's role has diminished. Before Artie Burns was ready to play, Gay was playing outside cornerback, and now with Burns a fixture in the lineup, Gay has moved inside to the slot, which actually is a better position for him. Gay is one of four defensive backs to have an interception this season, and he entered last Sunday's game against the Giants tied for third on the team in passes defensed. Sometimes anonymity for a defensive back can be reflective of a job being done well.

JUSTIN HENNEBERRY FROM HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA:
I think the Steelers played great offensively and defensively against the Giants. My main concern are the 12 penalties. I also was disappointed Mike Tomlin didn't address this issue in his postgame press conference. I love Tomlin as a coach, but does he need to step up and make sure his team doesn't take stupid game changing penalties?

ANSWER: Yes, too many penalties. Twelve is too many, but your disappointment over this not being a part of Mike Tomlin's postgame presser makes no sense to me. First of all, most of that session is Tomlin answering questions, and so maybe your disappointment should be directed at those asking the questions for not bringing up the penalties. And while fans may be looking for some sense of satisfaction to hear the head coach rip into his team for some transgression – in this case, the number of penalties – it often serves no real purpose for him to do so. And another thing fans should understand is that just because the issue wasn't dealt with in a public forum doesn't mean it wasn't addressed in a more private setting, such as a team meeting. And this is just my personal viewpoint on the 12 penalties called in this specific instance – at least four of them were bullspit calls.

BILL ROSENBERGER FROM CARROLLTON, OH:
Not really a question, but I want to say I love your sass with some people who ask idiotic questions. It's obvious to me that there are a lot of so-called "fans" who don't seem to know some of the very basics of the game of football or how the NFL works. Thanks for setting them straight. I always get a good chuckle out of your replies. Keep up the sassiness and have a Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year.

ANSWER: Same to you, and thanks for the sentiment.


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