Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Oct. 1

Let's get to it:

ROBERT COTTONE FROM PICKERINGTON, OH: Coaching the Steelers always seems to have been a great job to have when they do well. What assistant coaches held their jobs the longest?
ANSWER: As you can imagine, there have been a lot of assistant coaches during the history of the franchise, and here are just a few of the longer-tenured guys of recent vintage. Of course, Dick Hoak served longer than any other assistant coach with a career that began in 1972 and ended with his retirement after the 2006 season. John Mitchell wasn't far behind Hoak in longevity, with a career that began in 1994 and ended with his retirement after the 2022 season. Dick LeBeau served two different tenures with the team, first from 1992-96 and then from 2004-14; and James Daniel coached the Steelers tight ends from 2004-20.

JOSE VILLARREAL FROM CARRIZO SPRINGS, TX: During the postgame interviews following the win over the Raiders, T. J. Watt was asked about Steelers Nation coming out to Las Vegas, and it felt like a home game. Can't wait to show up in Houston, because there's a huge Steelers Nation fan base in Texas. We're a big state, and we're packing NRG Stadium on Sunday. How often do the Steelers play in Texas?
ANSWER: For a long time, the Steelers played in Texas at least once a year, because the Houston Oilers were an original member of the AFC Central Division. Since 2002, which was the Texans' inaugural NFL season, the Steelers have played six regular season games in Texas. Three of those were in Dallas against the Cowboys, and three were in Houston against the Texans.

ED STREVIG FROM MECHANICSBURG, PA: I was surprised that part of your answer on Sept. 26 about the 63-7 win in 1952 over the New Your Giants included the fact we had 7 interceptions in the game. I was surprised that teams threw that many times back then. How many times did they throw?
ANSWER: In the 63-7 win over the Giants in 1952 that remains the record for the most points scored in franchise history in a single game, New York's quarterbacks completed 11-of-39 for 177 yards, with 1 touchdown and 7 interceptions, while the Steelers quarterbacks completed 15-of-31 for 315 yards, with 5 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. One of the Giants quarterbacks that day was Tom Landry, who would go on to have a Hall of Fame career as the coach of the Dallas Cowboys, and he threw 4 of the Giants interceptions and also had 2 interceptions as a defensive back in the same game.

KEITH CLARK FROM BROOKLYN, NY: How much of an egregious hit to Kenny Pickett's head will it take for the referee to assess a penalty for roughing the passer? According to retired referee Terry McAuley, now an analyst on NBC Sunday Night Football, the roughing the passer penalty on Minkah Fitzpatrick should not have been called. Will the league do a review of helmet-to-helmet calls to the quarterbacks so it doesn't become one-sided?
ANSWER: I believe that ship sailed a long time ago. Remember that game in Baltimore, when Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata clubbing Ben Roethlisberger across the face and broke his nose? That wasn't called, and it had no impact at all on the fact Roethlisberger absorbed much more physical abuse that went uncalled when compared to the golden boy who played for the New England Patriots. Regarding the penalty on Minkah Fitzpatrick, 49ers linebacker Fred Warner had this to say about that on his "The Warner House" podcast:

"There's so many different rules now with unnecessary roughness and targeting and all this other stuff, they basically are trying to slowly turn the game into flag football a little bit. They want to get all the physicality out of the game, even though that's what literally attracts people to watching the game is guys wearing pads and helmets and hitting each other. Minkah came in on a blitz and sacked Jimmy (Garoppolo), but then they threw a flag on the play and said it was targeting because his facemask just happened to graze Jimmy's helmet even though he initiated contact at his shoulder first. So, if you (slow motion the video), yeah, it looks like his helmet hit his helmet, but it really wasn't helmet-to-helmet. The rules are finicky a little bit. It's unfortunate for (Fitzpatrick), but hey, that's just what the game is now."

ROBERT RICHARDSON FROM MODESTO, CA: I saw Cam Hayward on the sideline for the Raiders game, so what is the Steelers policy on players on the injured reserve list traveling with the team?
ANSWER: Whatever the policy is, it allows for an exception for a player of Cam Heyward's stature on the team. And really, that's as it should be in my opinion.

BEN FIELY FROM MEADVILLE, PA: Is T.J. Watt in contention for best Steelers defender of all time? What are his odds for being voted defensive player of the year this year?
ANSWER: T.J. Watt is a great player, but at this still early stage of his career, I believe it's important to keep things in perspective. You do realize the Steelers franchise has 10 defensive players enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and in reverse chronological order of their induction, they are: Donnie Shell, Troy Polamalu, Kevin Greene, Rod Woodson, Jack Butler, Jack Lambert, Mel Blount, Jack Ham, Joe Greene, and Ernie Stautner. Read those names again. I have the utmost respect for Watt, but over a six-season span, Joe Greene was voted Defensive Rookie of the Year, and Defensive Player of the Year TWICE, and besides the hardware he was the foundational piece that helped transform the losing-est franchise in the NFL to one of the most feared dynasties in league history. Maybe this is the year Watt joins Greene with two Defensive Player of the Year Awards, and that would represent a tremendous accomplishment, but it's important to understand and acknowledge that Joe Greene was the most important player in the history of the Steelers franchise.

KEVIN DOYLE FROM SALINAS, CA: Kenny Pickett certainly has running ability, and there are many quarterbacks who are a threat in the run game. Are the Steelers overly concerned about an injury, or are they overlooking the potential of opening up the offense more by designing a play or two where Pickett is the runner?
ANSWER: There is a significant difference between a quarterback who has escapability and can use that to extend plays or gain yards himself when the opportunity presents itself, and a running quarterback. I believe the Steelers view Kenny Pickett as being in that first category, as opposed to a quarterback who is utilized on designed running plays. The latter is how guys get injured in the NFL.

PAT FLYNN FROM OAKDALE, PA: With the mechanical issue of the Steelers plane this week it got me wondering: Football players are not small men. Is their airplane modified with bigger seats/more leg room than the average plane to accommodate larger human frames?
ANSWER: From the news video of the event, the Steelers were flying on a Delta Airlines charter, and those are not specially modified for big people.

LUKE DOBSON FROM MAIDENHEAD, UK: Is there any truth to the rumour that the Steelers plane made an "emergency" landing in Kansas City because they wanted to meet up with Taylor Swift?
ANSWER: I would have been more inclined to believe the flight made an emergency landing there to get some of that top-notch Kansas City barbeque. If you're ever in that area, visit any of the six locations of Jack Stack Barbeque that are in and around Kansas City, and you'll know exactly what I mean.

STEFAN PISOCKI FROM WILMINGTON, DE: Can you offer details regarding Minkah Fitzpatrick's personal foul Sunday night? Does he still get credit for the sack? Was the penalty assessed from the spot of the tackle or the original line of scrimmage?
ANSWER: Because of the penalty, the official scoring of that is "no play," which means there are no statistics awarded for anything that happened during the play once the penalty was accepted by the Raiders. So, no sack for Minkah Fitzpatrick. And the penalty yardage is marked off from the original line of scrimmage, which because the ball was snapped at the Steelers 18-yard line, it was assessed at half the distance to the goal line, which created a first-and-goal at the 9-yard line.

CHUCK MILLER FROM ALBANY, NY: After the Steelers' victory over Las Vegas in Week 3, I believe Chris Boswell is now only 44 points away from tying Jeff Reed for second place among all Steelers in scoring. In your opinion, what is the likelihood that he could eventually reach Gary Anderson's all-time Steelers scoring record?
ANSWER: With 875 points, Chris Boswell is indeed within 44 points of tying Jeff Reed, who scored 919 points during his Steelers career. Based on Boswell having played 119 games to get 875 points, if he maintained that average he would need around 64 games to break Gary Anderson's total of 1,343. Since there are 14 more games left in 2023, Boswell would need about 50 more games after the 2023 season that to get past Anderson. Boswell is 32 years old now, and three seasons from now he would be 35. I could see him kicking for the Steelers when he's that age.

BART CORLEY FROM SARASOTA, FL: I read Asked and Answered religiously and always enjoy the insight, and the humor directed at mundane questions. Most recently, the submission from the gentleman who lost his father and was reading your column to him daily until the end … that was amazing and shows how deep the love for a sports team can be. I buried my own Mother in an L. C. Greenwood jersey with a Breast Cancer Awareness Terrible Towel in her hand (she lost the battle to cancer unfortunately). These stories resonate so deeply with me and so many others. Keep up the great work, and Steelers Nation runs deep.
ANSWER: Thanks for sharing.