HOUSTON – Let's get to it:
EDITOR'S NOTE: The Steelers will be wearing their white jerseys for today's game against the Houston Texans.
JIMMY SUVOY FROM INDIAN ROCKS BEACH, FL:
Do the Steelers have Chris Boswell practice his kicks in Heinz Field considering its reputation as a tough place to kick?
ANSWER: As a general rule, no. Practices are held at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex during the season. During the offseason program, there could be a single OTA session at Heinz Field, and last year during training camp there was a practice at Heinz Field as part of Family Fest. Those would be the only exceptions.
PATRICIA RADCLIFF FROM RIDGELEY, WV:
I love your column. Thanks for the knowledge and the laughs. I know that a bye week would be a help to our injured players, but we're usually so hot in the homestretch how do we keep the momentum going over a bye week before the playoffs? Can you give me the stats on how far we've gone over the years with the bye week vs. non-bye weeks.
ANSWER: First of all, here is what Mike Tomlin said about this issue: "Quite simply, it is a free pass to round two in the playoffs. You'll take passes to rounds in the playoffs. You step into a stadium and you have an opportunity to win, likewise you step into a stadium and you have an opportunity to lose. First-round byes are just that – you get a pass to the second round. Obviously, that's something of value, but it also gives us an opportunity to get guys who are carrying nicks and so forth healthy. Guys like Antonio Brown and others who may be on a short list of guys who could be better with a week's rest. So, whenever you're given an opportunity, you take that. You don't worry about rust and things of that nature. That's just media fodder as you come out of the bye. You want the bye."
Here are the results of the research project you assigned:
(Byes in the first round of the playoffs were awarded starting in 1978)
1978: Bye; won Super Bowl XIII
1979: Bye; won Super Bowl XIV
1982: No bye; lost in first round of AFC Tournament
1983: Bye; lost in Divisional Round
1984: Bye; lost in AFC Championship Game
1989: No bye; lost in Divisional Round
1992: Bye; lost in Divisional Round
1993: No bye; lost in Wild Card Round
1994: Bye; lost in AFC Championship Game
1995: Bye; lost in Super Bowl XXX
1996: No bye; lost in Divisional Round
1997: Bye; lost in AFC Championship Game
2001: Bye; lost in AFC Championship Game
2002: No bye; lost in Divisional Round
2004: Bye: lost in AFC Championship Game
2005: No bye; won Super Bowl XL
2007: No bye; lost in Wild Card Round
2008: Bye; won Super Bowl XLIII
2010: Bye; lost Super Bowl XLV
2011: No bye; lost in Wild Card Round
2014: No bye; lost in Wild Card Round
2015: No bye; lost in Divisional Round
2016: No bye; lost in AFC Championship Game
WES PLANTHABER FROM HUNTINGDON, PA:
I hear and see so many people, including you on a few occasions, say about the interception in the end zone vs. the Patriots that the officials missed a pass interference on the play. The ball was tipped. By rule doesn't that eliminate a pass interference call? Or is that only if it was tipped at the line of scrimmage?
ANSWER: If the contact with the receiver takes place after the ball is tipped, that's a different issue. On this play, the defensive back grabbed Eli Rogers, and while pulling him backward used the momentum as a slingshot effect to launch himself forward and get a hand on the ball. That's pass interference.
KEEGAN BARRINGER FROM ALLIANCE, OH:
After the loss of James Connor, did the Steelers show any interest in bringing back DeAngelo Williams?
ANSWER: No. Too old, and with a bad knee to boot.
MATT MITCHELL FROM WESTERVILLE, OH:
I'll keep this question as open-ended as possible, so you can answer it (or not answer) however you see fit: Why not DeAngelo Williams?
ANSWER: See above.
PAUL GRANZEIER FROM PITTSBURGH, PA:
I would like to apologize on behalf of all competent Steelers fans for all of the questions and comments that you receive about signing DeAngelo Williams. As much as I liked him, I know that he is not worth signing at this stage because of his knees and age.
ANSWER: Thanks for the injection of reason.
DARRELL GRANT FROM RICHMOND, VA:
I was surprised the Steelers signed a running back (Stevan Ridley) from outside the organization.. What skill-set does Ridley bring that Steelers felt was advantageous moving forward?
ANSWER: This is what Mike Tomlin said about Stevan Ridley: "I like his complete body of work, his run-style. I have known him over the years. It seems like every year I'm in Baton Rouge for LSU's Pro Day, and that's the type of program that is. I not only met him at his Pro Day, but I've seen him at subsequent Pro Days. As a professional, he goes back to Baton Rouge and trains. I just have a lot of respect for him. Got to know him over the years, and I always thought if given the opportunity to work with him, I'd be open to it. I like his style of play. The opportunities aligned, he was available, and I look forward to working with him over the next couple of weeks."
SCOTT MICUCCI FROM FREDERICKSBURG, VA:
I wanted to make a point about Sean Davis' play against Rob Gronkowski. I thought Davis had pretty good defensive position on nearly all of the receptions (can't speak for all of the plays), with the exception of the 2-point conversion play. I don't want to say/admit that Gronkowski is uncoverable, but at the same time, it sure looked like Davis was within one or two inches of getting a hand on those balls, but the quarterback placed the ball perfectly. It was much better than the wide-open receivers we typically see when playing zone defense vs. the Patriots, and Davis tackled well. Your opinion?
ANSWER: That Tom Brady fella is a pretty good quarterback, and accuracy is his most outstanding quality. I don't believe Gronkowski is uncoverable, but when a defensive back is matched up with a guy like him and against a quarterback like Brady, what you absolutely cannot do is drop the ball when he throws it to you. If Davis holds onto that interception that hit him in the hands, the perception of his play is completely different.
DEACON CLETUS YOCHUM FROM VINCENNES, IN:
No question. Just wanted to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and a safe and happy New Year. Thank you for Asked and Answered. God bless.
MIKE FOLEY FROM SADDLE BROOK, NJ:
You're the best. Love the sarcasm. When I read the questions to you, my only question to you would be how do you answer them without calling them a bleeping idiot? Love Asked and Answered. Keep it up.
NEIL GLASSER FROM MANALAPAN, NJ:
Thanks for your memories of electric football. For 40 years I thought I was the only one.
DR. JOHN MCHUGH FROM HILLSDALE, NJ:
No question, just wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas, full of catches, first downs, and touchdowns! No replay review required; A&A is one of the highlights of my day.
BRIAN LIPIEC FROM ERIE, PA:
No question. You deal with enough. Just letting you know your knowledge is extremely appreciated and a Merry Christmas to you and yours. Take care and God bless.
KATHY SLEPECKI FROM PITTSBURGH, PA:
I just wanted to say, hi. I love reading Asked and Answered. The questions are funny, but your answers make me laugh out loud.
BILL STARK FROM QUEEN CREEK, AZ:
This isn't a question, even though I have many. Being a Steelers fan for 46 years and counting, I wanted to thank you for the way you answer some of the idiotic questions these so-called Steelers fans ask you, plus the high quality of answers for the very good ones. I appreciate you sticking to football (game dependent) answers instead of biased "feelings" answers (although if it was up to me, I would gives us unlimited do-overs until we won every game). Merry Christmas! And I wish I would have found your column earlier than three days ago. Thank you.
ISRAEL PICKHOLTZ FROM JERUSALEM, ISRAEL:
I wanted to tell you that your experience with Electric Football was the same as mine. Except that mine wasn't a gift from Santa.
ANSWER: And a Merry Christmas to all of you, plus best wishes for a happy and healthy 2018.