Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Nov. 22

Let's get to it:

JIM CENGIA FROM DAYTON, OH: Terry Hanratty was drafted in the second round of the 1969 NFL Draft. Was he ever the starter for the Steelers before Terry Bradshaw?
ANSWER: Because Terry Hanratty was born and raised in Western Pennsylvania (Butler, Pa.) and then went on to a celebrated career at Notre Dame, there was some pressure on the Steelers to draft him in the first round in 1969. During another era, that might have meant something, but Dan Rooney and Chuck Noll were committed to picking the best players, and so the first-round pick of that draft was Joe Greene. Observers thought the Steelers were lucky to have a chance at Hanratty in the second round, but history would prove that his skills didn't translate well from college to the NFL. In 1969, Dick Shiner was the primary starting quarterback for the Steelers, but Hanratty started five games as a rookie, during which he completed 41.3 percent of his passes, with eight touchdowns, 13 interceptions, and a rating of 41.7. It wasn't until later in the 1974 regular season that Terry Bradshaw asserted himself sufficiently to stake a permanent claim to the starting job, and during that span, Hanratty started 17 games over those five-plus seasons, and he completed 38.1 percent of his passes, with 24 touchdowns, 34 interceptions, and a rating of 43.8.

LINDSEY WISNIEWSKI FROM RED LION, PA: In the Cincinnati game, a Bengals player muffed the kick in the field of play and it bounced into the end zone where he was eventually tackled. I thought that would have been a safety, but the officials ruled it a touchback. Have the rules changed?
ANSWER: The rules haven't changed. The only way that play would be a safety is if the player possessed the ball in the field of play and then ran backward into the end zone and was tackled in the end zone. Then it's a safety. Since the player never secured possession of the ball in the field of play (outside of the end zone) and once gaining possession of the ball never ran it out of the end zone before eventually being tackled in the end zone, it's a touchback. The officials were correct to rule that a touchback.

BILL FERRUCCI FROM GREENSBORO, NC: I was watching the Thursday night NFL game, and there was a holding call against the Cardinals that occurred in the end zone resulting in a safety. Just prior to that Kyler Murray was called for intentional grounding very near the end zone. Had the grounding call been deemed to have occurred in the end zone would that result in a safety as well?
ANSWER: Yes. Intentional grounding in the end zone also is a safety.

MARK ROBIN FROM BRONX, NY: Would we be able to run the ball better with Kevin Dotson on the field and David DeCastro on the bench?
ANSWER: This question implies that the main reason for the Steelers struggling with their running game is the play of David DeCastro. That's not true.

TONY MODZ FROM PITTSBURGH, PA: The way Cam Sutton is playing, do you think he has the ability to take over the starting job from Steven Nelson next year?
ANSWER: I do not deny that Cam Sutton is playing well and has become a valuable member of the sub-package defense, and I also wouldn't dismiss the notion that he could be a starting cornerback in the NFL. But here are a couple of things to consider: Sutton can become an unrestricted free agent next March, and Nelson is under contract through the 2021 season. Also, my suspicion is that if the Steelers believed Sutton was a starter-in-waiting, they probably wouldn't have signed Nelson as an unrestricted free agent during the 2019 offseason. Lots of time to go before the decision of what to do about Sutton has to be made, and a lot of football to be played along the way.

TOM GARRETT FROM MOON TOWNSHIP, PA: Do you ever hear the thoughts of the Steelers players from the 1970s on the love fest that exists after the game is over nowadays? There's hugging, jersey exchanging, etc. I can't imagine Jack Lambert, Joe Greene, or Mel Blount hugging Jack Tatum postgame.
ANSWER: There was a sauna close to the football locker rooms at Three Rivers Stadium, and after games some of the players you mentioned would gather for a steam and to replenish their fluids with a malted beverage or two. And there were occasions when players from the visiting team were invited to join in the fluid replacement exercise. Not Jack Tatum, certainly, but opposing players nevertheless.

JASON SCHRODER FROM TURLOCK, CA: Is it true the last Super Bowl winning team to have a roster full of homegrown players was the 1979 Steelers?
ANSWER: The 1979 Steelers, the team that won Super Bowl XIV over the Los Angeles Rams, was the only Super Bowl champion to have a roster full of players who never played for a team other than the Steelers. And now with free agency being such a big part of the NFL these days, I believe that's a distinction/record that's unlikely to be broken.

DARSH GILL FROM ABBOTSFORD, BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA: I was watching the Jets vs. the Patriots, and it was a tie game with the Patriots driving and only 8 seconds left in the game. Cam Newton threw a pass that was caught with about 3 seconds left as the receiver slid to the ground. A Jets player touched him, the whistle blew, and a timeout was called with 2 seconds left. New England kicked a field goal and won the game. If the Jets player stayed back and did not touch the New England player would the clock run out?
ANSWER: In the NFL, it's possible for a player with the football to "give himself up," which means he goes to the ground and makes no additional attempt to advance the ball. In that instance, the official nearest to the play will whistle the play dead, and the example you cite is one of a Patriots player "giving himself up." Once the whistle was blown, and it's to be blown immediately to prevent any unnecessary contact, the timeout is allowed to be called.

BRYCE KYBURZ FROM AUSTIN, TX: In your opinion and as an astute observer of the game and historian of the Steelers, do you think Cam Heyward is the team's best interior lineman since Joe Greene?
ANSWER: I will answer your question with a factoid: There have been only two defensive linemen in franchise history to be voted Associated Press first-team All-Pro more than once – Joe Greene (four times) and Cam Heyward (twice).

DAVE HORCHAK FROM CHERRY TREE, PA: I am a big fan of Asked and Answered. Is there a way to sign up for notification of a new installment instead of looking for it?
ANSWER: Consider this a notification: During the regular season, Asked And Answered appears on on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and on game days, with the lone exception of when game day is a Monday night. In that case, there is no Asked and Answered the next day.

JAMES MAC PHERSON FROM BEACHWOOD, NJ: From the last installment of Asked and Answered: I passed fourth grade math but failed English. To clarify a family feud: Team A finishes the season with a 4-2 record within the division, and 10-6 overall. Team B finishes the season with a 2-4 record within the division, and 11-5 overall. Who wins the division?
ANSWER: You again? It's beyond me why you find this such a difficult concept to grasp: tiebreakers DO NOT APPLY unless the teams have THE SAME RECORD. Team A and Team B have different records, so the one with the better record finishes above the team with the lesser record – and 11-5 is better than 10-6, so tiebreakers don't apply. And I don't believe for a second that you passed fourth grade math since you can't grasp the simple fact that 11-5 is a better record than 10-6. Show me your report card.

MIKE ABRAMS FROM BIG PINE KEY, FL: What are your thoughts on the Steelers getting linebacker Bumper Pool (yes, that's his real name) from Arkansas in the draft?
ANSWER: First of all, Mr. Pool – and you can bet everything you own that I checked to make sure there actually is someone by that name playing football at Arkansas – has not entered the 2021 NFL Draft, and he is an underclassman so he could return to school for his senior season in 2021. Beyond that, my thoughts are that if you actually believe I'm going to entertain draft questions five months before the event during the heart of an NFL regular season when the Steelers are 9-0 and the league's last undefeated team … well, let's just say it's not going to happen.

MICKI ANDERSEN FROM FREDERICIA, DENMARK: On this day (Nov. 19) five years ago, you answered a question of mine regarding how the waiver system worked. I guess you wonder why I remember this date? I remember this day, because six hours after I read your answer, I had my (now 5-year-old) son, Benjamin, in my arms for the first time. I just want to thank you for your humor and for the knowledge you impart regarding the Steelers and the NFL in general.
ANSWER: I have heard of Asked and Answered giving people headaches and sometimes indigestion, but yours is the first instance where an installment was responsible for inducing labor. I'm happy to know that Benjamin is doing well, and Benjamin is a nice name, but since Asked and Answered played such a role in the birth of your son, well, Bob is a nice name too, don't you think?