Let’s get to it:
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Steelers will wear their white jerseys for today’s game against the Broncos in Denver.
BILL URBAN FROM ELKTON, MD: Jordan Dangerfield appeared to have played more on defense than he has all season vs. Jaguars. Was that a result of sub-packages or was someone hurt in the secondary?
ANSWER: Jordan Dangerfield played 10 snaps on defense in Jacksonville, and it was a response to what the Jaguars offense was doing. It quickly became obvious that the Jaguars were going to rely on their running game, particularly the running of Leonard Fournette, and so whenever they went to a formation that included only one wide receiver, the Steelers responded with a defensive personnel grouping that included only one cornerback. That’s when Dangerfield, typically a safety, came onto the field and replaced Coty Sensabaugh. Dangerfield finished with two tackles.
FITZ NICELY FROM PHOENIX, AZ: While it seems obvious every team making the playoffs would love the first round bye, it also seems to me our Steelers struggle a bit after stretches of time off. I know you'll have the stats, and I am just going by my limited memory, but I am curious whether the stats back up my contention?
ANSWER: The first time the Steelers were exposed to the playoff bye system came in 1978, and after a first-round bye that postseason, they bludgeoned Denver, 33-10, then Houston, 34-5, before going on to defeat Dallas in Super Bowl XIII. In 1979, same thing: the Steelers had a first-round bye in the playoffs, and then handled Miami, 34-14, and Houston again, 27-13, before going on to defeat the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl XIV. In 1983, the Steelers had a first-round bye in the playoffs, and then went to Los Angeles and got blown out by the Raiders, 38-10. In 1984 after a first-round bye, the Steelers upset the Broncos in Denver, 24-17, in the Divisional Round. In 1992, in Bill Cowher’s inaugural season, the Steelers lost at home to the Buffalo Bills, 24-3, after a first-round bye. In both 1994 and 1995, the Steelers followed byes in the first round of the playoffs with victories over Cleveland, 29-9, and Buffalo, 40-21, respectively. In 1997, after a bye, the Steelers squeaked by New England, 7-6, in the Divisional Round. In 2001, they defeated the defending champion Ravens, 27-10, after a first-round bye; and in 2004, it was an overtime win over the Jets. In 2008, the Steelers began their run to Super Bowl XLIII with a 35-24 win over San Diego in the Divisional Round; and in 2010, they again defeated the Ravens, 31-24, in the Divisional Round following a first-round bye. Last season, the Steelers lost to Jacksonville, 45-42, following a first-round bye. So to add it all up, the Steelers are 10-3 in games following a first-round bye in the playoffs, with Chuck Noll, Cowher, and Mike Tomlin each accounting for one loss.
HERMAN STOLL FROM HAMLIN, WV: Has the Steelers-Chargers game on Dec. 2 been flexed to primetime?
ANSWER: Yes. Even though the NFL first informed the Steelers the game vs. the Los Angeles Chargers would be played at 1 p.m. as scheduled, and then told the Steelers they could inform their fans of that decision, the league later reneged and came back to the Steelers and told them the game had been flexed to the 8:20 p.m. time slot. Not a very fan-friendly approach by the NFL, in my opinion, especially for the people either holding tickets or for those who had made travel plans to come to Pittsburgh to attend the game in person.
ISRAEL PICKHOLTZ FROM JERUSALEM, ISRAEL: Why is Cam Heyward listed as a tackle on the Pro Bowl ballot with Javon Hargrave, rather than as an end with Stephon Tuitt?
ANSWER: Because the way the Steelers align their 3-4 defense, Cam Heyward is opposite a guard and Stephon Tuitt is opposite a tackle. Because he is competing against interior offensive linemen consistently, Heyward is more of a defensive tackle, and Tuitt is more of a defensive end since he is competing against offensive tackles consistently.
SANTIAGO CALVA FROM QUERÉTARO, MEXICO: Can players become coaches after they have entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame?
GEORGE MCINDOE FROM PITTSBURGH, PA: Ben Roethlisberger confirmed in a postgame interview that he wasn't sure that he was over the goal line. Do you think Mike Tomlin should have been with a referee, calling that final timeout when Ben landed on the ground? Otherwise that play would have been a win/lose not a win/tie scenario.
ANSWER: Mike Tomlin had informed the officials during the review process that he was going to use his final timeout if the call on the field was overturned. Simply notifying an official of this intention is enough to have them looking for Tomlin as soon as the decision was handed down from the replay booth. The Steelers never were in any danger of not getting another play off had the touchdown been overturned on replay.
DAVE RAP FROM LEECHBURG, PA: If the Steelers place the transition tag on Le’Veon Bell next season, and he signs an offer sheet from another team and the Steelers decide not to match that offer, will the team receive two first-round picks as compensation?
ANSWER: No. All the transition tag calls for is that the original team has a chance to match any offer sheet signed by the player. The franchise tag is the one that carries the compensation of two first-round draft picks if the offer sheet is not matched.
KEITH YOUNG FROM FOUNTAIN INN, SC: Can a team choose to wear its color rush jerseys in the Super Bowl? Or a throwback jersey?
BOB BRILL FROM CALABASAS, CA: I want to applaud you first of all for your honesty. As a journalist myself as well as a lifelong Pittsburgh sports fan (even the ABL Wrens and the ABA Pipers/Condors), I'm curious how much leeway you and the other writers are given on the website when it comes to analysis in your writing. The Steelers website is really good; the Pirates is very good; and the Penguins is a joke and very difficult to maneuver, too. How much freedom do you have to be honest in what you write?
ANSWER: When I was hired in 1988, Dan Rooney had me in his office and he said, “When we stink, you have to tell the truth so that when we tell people we’re good, they’ll believe us.” Those were his words, I’ve never forgotten them, and I’ve tried to live up to his direction.