Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Jan. 1

Let's get to it:

NICK SISI FROM INNISFIL, ONTARIO, CANADA:
I keep hearing that Landry Jones will be starting at quarterback today against the Browns. Wouldn't it be in the team's best interest to start William Gay just in case we need Jones to come in for Ben Roethlisberger during the playoffs? Or do you think Jones needs to get some reps?

ANSWER: How things can change and change dramatically. Landry Jones has gone from being Public Enemy No. 1 in Steelers Nation to being a player deemed worthy of protection from injury. Anyway, in the situation you describe – Jones being needed in the playoffs – I believe what would serve him best and serve the team best in creating a situation where he could succeed if called upon in the playoffs is playing him against the Browns. And unless the game would get out of hand on the scoreboard, I would play him the entire game so that he could benefit from in-game repetitions in every situation – third downs, red zone, end of the half, etc.

MATHEW MARLEY FROM ROCHESTER, NY:
Is Zach Mettenberger going to play at all during this last game, or will it be all Landry Jones?

ANSWER: As stated in the previous answer, my decision would be to play Landry Jones for the whole game, but my opinion doesn't matter. When I asked Coach Mike Tomlin what his plans were at quarterback in this game, he said, "Landry Jones gets the start. It's an awesome opportunity for him. I thought he represented himself very well, minus a couple of plays, against New England, and for him and for us, it's about the subtraction of those couple of plays. He's worthy of playing above the line. We expect him to play above the line. He expects to play above the line, and we're excited to watch him lead us to victory today."

TIM KING FROM WILLOW GROVE, PA:
When was the last time Le'Veon Bell played in a game? It feels like he has been out forever. I have to say I am very excited to see our full arsenal on offense, including having DeAngelo.

ANSWER: DeAngelo Williams was in the Christmas Day game against the Ravens for one offensive play, but he didn't carry the ball. His last carry came on Nov. 6 in Baltimore, and he finished that game with one carry for no yards. In the nine games since having 10 yards on three carries in Miami on Oct. 16, he had one carry for no yards in one game, no carries in another, and was inactive seven times with a knee injury.

JAMES MOORE FROM PORT ORCHARD, WA:
If the defense commits a penalty after a PAT, and the penalty yardage moves the ball toward the opposing team's goal line for the kickoff, and if the kickoff is a touchback, does the offense still start at the 25-yard line?

ANSWER: Yes. That's the rule.

CHRISTIAN MARGRIS FROM OLIVET, FRANCE:
With the Patriots looking more than ready to get to another Super Bowl and no other clear favorite in the AFC, what is the Steelers' record in Foxborough – both in the regular season and in the playoffs – and also during the Tom Brady era.

ANSWER: What is now known as Gillette Stadium debuted for the 2002 NFL season, and the Steelers were the first opponent the Patriots faced there, mostly because the matchup represented a rematch of the 2001 AFC Championship Game. The Steelers are 1-4 there, and their one win came in 2008 when Matt Cassel started at quarterback for the injured Tom Brady, who otherwise is 4-0 against the Steelers in Foxborough.

AARON HANES FROM ST. PETERSBURG, FL:
Do you see the NFL adding more teams to the playoffs? Seems to me, it would make more sense than increasing the number of regular season games.

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Here is a look at the statistical leaders for both the Steelers and Browns heading into Sunday's game at Heinz Field.

ANSWER: It seems to me that Thursday Night Football is becoming a worse product that is watched less on the variety of networks the NFL has tried. I have seen suggestions that call for modifying the Thursday night schedule by decreasing the number of games significantly and then making up for the lost revenue with the money that could come from adding to the playo**ffs. As for adding regular season games, there is not a realistic scenario in my mind where that would happen.

GREG BLUMER FROM GANDER, NEWFOUNDLAND, CANADA
Last week, a Raiders special teams player kept a punted ball from entering the end zone by batting it back into the field of play. If that ball hit a member of the return team, is it a live ball?

ANSWER: No. By rule, if the kicking team touches but does not down a punted ball that crosses the line of scrimmage, the receiving team can attempt to pick up the loose ball without fear of fumbling.

TIM MILLER FROM SHELBYVILLE, IL:
There has been a lot of debate on if the Steelers would have had enough time on the clock to run another play in the final seconds of the Ravens game. My question is do you feel that the play would have been close enough to stop the clock for review, thus giving them time for another play?

ANSWER: In the final two minutes of each half, coaches cannot challenge plays on the field; all challenges have to be initiated from the booth. I don't think the process gets done in the nine seconds that were left on the clock. Before the pass to Antonio Brown, Mike Tomlin had notified the officials that if the play wasn't a touchdown the Steelers were going to hustle to the line to spike the ball. That notification was made to tip the officials off as to the strategy so that they get the ball spotted for the next play in a prompt manner.

STEPHEN HOFFMAN FROM CARMEL, NY:
After the great touchdown by Antonio Brown against the Ravens on Christmas Day, Antonio let Ramon Foster spike the football. Could that be flagged as an excessive celebration?

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ANSWER: When it comes to what NFL officials do and don't rule an "excessive celebration," the whole thing to me is neither consistent nor uniform. One man spiking the football is something that's never called, however.**

MARK MICHALEK FROM DELAND, FL:
I'm thankful you continue to write this column. The fact that you continue to get questions like moving Le'Veon Bell to wide receiver, and giving DeAngelo Williams more carries, or having the Super Bowl played in two stadiums so both teams get to play at home drives me to jump off a bridge.

ANSWER: Please don't. They already have us outnumbered as it is.

DAVE BATTLE FROM SAN DIEGO, CA:
Reading some of the submitted questions, I find it hard to believe that these sometime moronic questions come from actual breathing people. Please tell me you have a joke writer, or you write them yourself.

ANSWER: I can assure you I am not that creative.


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