Let's get to it:
ROGER SAYLOR FROM TORONTO, ONTARIO:
Just moved here in August from the United States, and I was wondering this: in the photos of players boarding the plane for away games I notice many are carrying plastic bags. Is food served on the plane? What the heck else is in those bags?
When the Steelers travel via charter flight to a road game – which they do for every NFL venue except Cleveland where the team travels by bus – food is provided as opposed to being served on the plane. That's the most accurate way to portray the process, because airlines don't have the kind of kitchen facilities to serve that many meals, because a typical Steelers charter is packed with players, coaches, trainers, doctors – I've often joked that the best place to have a medical emergency is on a Steelers charter, because the team travels with internists, an orthopedic surgeon or two, a neurosurgeon, and at least a half-dozen certified athletic trainers – plus other assorted staff. There usually are different types of catering laid out for the players after they complete the screening before boarding the plane, one of which is Giant Eagle Market District that provides a wide range of healthy alternatives. There also is a variety of Gatorade and bottled water, as well as fruit, cheese and crackers, and other sensible snacks. Those plastic bags are how the players carry their selections to the plane.**
JIM NASH FROM CHILLIWACK, B.C., CANADA:
Quit being so nice! You had a chance to carve up the guy who asked why the No. 1 seed plays the No. 6 seed! C'mon, man! Here is a chance to redeem yourself. Tell me if this story is true: Did Joey Porter ever enter a Ravens team bus after a game at Heinz field and call-out Ray Lewis? And what ever happened to the Dri Archer for Tom Brady trade?
Once upon a time, the Steelers-Ravens rivalry was a bitter one, one of the most bitter in modern NFL history. It reflected all of the organization-wide hate that Steelers-Raiders held during the 1970s. Hines Ward vs. Ed Reed. James Trapp vs. Plaxico Burress. One of the lesser-known confrontations that often moved the needle on the Richter Scale was Dan Kreider vs. Ray Lewis. In August 2003, Porter was standing outside a bar when he was shot just before 2 a.m. following the Colorado-Colorado State football game. "He was an innocent bystander," police spokesman Sonny Jackson said at the time. "There was no confrontation or altercation that we know of at this time." This is how Coach Bill Cowher addressed the issue at the time: "Joey's going to be fine; he'll be back. He's a special guy and he'll be back."
And that turned out to be the case, because from 2003-06 Porter recorded 29.5 sacks, five interceptions, and eight forced fumbles for the Steelers.
Despite being cleared by police of any wrongdoing, Porter was subjected to the kind of trash-talking one might expect from a hated rival after being involved in something like this off the field, and Lewis was not shy about bringing it up when the teams met in the 2003 opener. The talking escalated, and after the Steelers posted a 34-15 victory over the Ravens, Porter did visit the area where the Ravens' buses were parked at Heinz Field. It is not true that Porter boarded any buses, nor was there any physical confrontation with Lewis. But it's safe to assume there haven't been many Christmas cards exchanged between the two in the meantime.**
BILL BROSNICK FROM PINSON, TN:
Observations from a fan who grew up about a mile from St. Vincent's College: Alejandro Villanueva has cemented a position and made Mike Adams expendable; Jesse James will be a good football player; I'd love to have USC linebacker Su'a Cravens on the roster next year; It's Memorial Stadium, not Latrobe Stadium; and what do you think about Dan McCullers, Ryan Shazier and a new cornerback to grace the starting lineup full-time next year?
I typically don't consider rambling opinions disguised as questions – rambling opinions are my job here – but I used your question because I'm calling B.S. on someone who describes himself as a fan "who grew up about a mile from St. Vincent's College" and then includes a smarmy correction that it's "Memorial Stadium, not Latrobe Stadium" as a way of describing the facility where Latrobe High School plays its football games and where the Steelers stage what's now referred to as Friday Night Lights.
Hey, Bill, it's Saint Vincent College. 'Saint' is spelled out, not abbreviated. And there is no possessive. It's Vincent, never Vincent's. Never has been. And by the way, if you care to get literal about it, the full name of Latrobe High School's home field is Latrobe Memorial Stadium. When I worked at the Greensburg Tribune-Review for five-plus years before the Steelers hired me, the locals referred to the facility as Latrobe Stadium, and that's how it came to be known.
PHIL SHOWELL FROM BIRMINGHAM, UNITED KINGDOM:
So, why wasn't Peyton Manning down again? I'm a bit fuzzy on why that wasn't him giving himself up?
I agree with your assessment of the play, and Peyton Manning somewhat admitted as much when he said in the postgame interview session that he had alerted Emmanuel Sanders to be aware of him going down and then getting back up to throw the football. The game wasn't decided by the officials, but I also would contend that had a Steelers player – say, William Gay – jumped on Manning, he would've been flagged for a personal foul.
Check out the highlight photos from the Divisional game against the Broncos. The Broncos defeated the Steelers 23-16 on Jan. 17, 2016.
ROSS HUNT FROM LISBURN, NORTHERN IRELAND:
First off, I love this section of the website. It's very informative and I really appreciate the humour. My question is this: As someone who has only really started following the NFL in the past couple of years I really enjoy it and have come to grips fairly quickly with the vast majority of how play works. But there are still some rules/scenarios that I wouldn't be able to explain if someone asked me. Here's one: What happens if the clock hits zero and a play is still going on? What would the protocol be at the end of a quarter/half/game? If a play starts at say 0:04, and the clock hits 0:00 while the ball is in the air (or being carried), and the receiver/runner manages to legally get the ball in the end zone, would the points count (like in basketball if a ball is in the air on its way to a basket when the time ends) or does everything stop dead at 0:00? Also, how would this apply if a pass to the end zone was incomplete after 0:00 but there was pass interference on the play?
Any play in a football game where the ball is snapped before the clock hits triple-zeroes is allowed to run to completion. If there is a penalty on a play that ends after the clock hits triple-zeroes, there can be an untimed down. In the situation described where there is pass interference on a play that ends with no time left, the penalty would be enforced and the offense given one more play from the spot of the enforcement of the penalty.
DAVE SHAFFER FROM HARRISBURG, PA:
I love this column. My question is if Ben Roethlisberger doesn't play and the team manages to win a Super Bowl, but he still is on the team would he be considered a three-time Super Bowl winning quarterback?
Because quarterback is unlike other positions in that a team typically plays only one through the course of a game, I would believe in the case of a quarterback he would have to be the starter to be credited in the manner you mention.
RYAN ORREN FROM CHRISTIANSBURG, VA:
Do you see another mid-round quarterback pick coming in the next couple of years, where the man could have time to study and develop – and play effectively enough when needed – or do you see the organization waiting until the Ben Roethlisberger Show is completely over and then trying to nab a higher pick to get an NFL game-ready guy?
You don't find an encore to the Ben Roethlisberger Show in the middle rounds of a draft unless you have the luck of a PowerBall winner. Quarterbacks of that caliber in the NFL are first-round picks. If I were in control of this roster, I wouldn't spend the kind of pick it would require to add another quarterback talent with the potential to develop into a dynamic NFL player anytime soon. At quarterback right now and in the near future, I'd have Roethlisberger, a dependable backup, and maybe a developmental prospect who could become a dependable backup. My high picks would be used to strengthen the existing roster with the idea of competing for championships in each of the seasons Roethlisberger has left.
MIKE FOSTER FROM EWA BEACH, HI:
There is a narrative out there that Ben Roethlisberger talks too much about his injuries, exaggerates and/or embellishes the extent of his injuries, and isn't as tough as some other quarterbacks. As an example, Tim Hasslebeck of ESPN, a.k.a., Mr. Elizabeth Hasslebeck, formerly of The View, said Tom Brady walked off the field after getting his knee torn up and Roethlisberger got carted off for a shoulder sprain.
If Tom Brady walked off the field with a significant knee injury, then the team's medical staff failed him. A knee injury to a player as significant as Brady takes precedence over any macho garbage about walking off the field on your own. If the orthopedist on site determined there was ligament damage that could be exacerbated by walking off the field, Brady would have been given a cart ride no matter what he wanted. The decision to take Roethlisberger into the locker room on a cart was made by the Steelers medical staff. Full disclosure: I loved the Mrs. Elizabeth Hasselbeck line.
EMERY KAPPLES FROM JACKSONVILLE, FL:
Not that it matters, but why wasn't there a 10-second runoff in the Steelers-Bengals game when Antonio Brown was injured with no timeouts left?
There was a penalty on the play committed by the defense that necessitated the injury timeout. Running time off the clock would have rewarded the defense for committing the penalty, and that's why it wasn't done in that situation.