Let’s get to it:
ROBERT FAIGHT FROM JOHNSTOWN, PA: How in the world did that many Steelers fans get tickets to a game in the home of another team, and even more amazing is how did they all get there?
ANSWER: First of all, you’re making a mistake if you believe all those Steelers fans inside Dignity Health Sports Park on Sunday night traveled from Western Pennsylvania. I would say most of them were from Southern California, where the Steelers long have had a huge fan base, and from other areas west of the Mississippi. When the Chargers were based in San Diego, I attended many Steelers games there and the stands were loaded with people wearing black-and-gold. Certainly not the percentage that we saw on Sunday night, but big numbers nonetheless. In speaking with people from that area during the couple of days we spent there around the game, it seems the Chargers are in a tough spot in terms of their fan base. Their fans from San Diego largely have been honked off by the team’s decision to leave the city, and the Chargers are not one of those teams with a national following, like the Steelers or Cowboys or Giants, etc. So what has been happening regularly this season is that fans of the visiting team flock to the area, and the locals there who are season ticketholders to Chargers games have found they can make a nice buck selling their tickets to visiting fans on the secondary market. A nice way to make a little extra cash with the holidays coming up, and the plan must be working because I was told that tickets for the Steelers game on the secondary market were not cheap.
NICK COALS FROM CANMORE, ALBERTA, CANADA: During the Sunday night game, they named Chuck Noll, Joe Greene, Terry Bradshaw, and Jack Lambert as the faces on the Steelers’ Mount Rushmore. I'm assuming management and ownership were not considered. Who would be the four faces on your Mount Rushmore?
ANSWER: I don’t know who “they” are, but since the game was being broadcast by NBC, I can only imagine the depth of the roster of “Steelers experts” who might have been weighing in on that topic. And in answering your question, I’m not going to play by “their” rules. So my four would be: Art Rooney Sr., Dan Rooney, Chuck Noll, and Joe Greene. By way of explanation – and I’ll keep it brief – Art Rooney Sr. is a no-brainer because he founded the franchise and kept it viable and in Pittsburgh through the many decades when professional football was not a glamorous business; Dan Rooney, because he was the individual who took the “lovable loser Steelers” and turned them into one of the greatest dynasties in NFL history; Chuck Noll, because he was the coach who made it happen; and Joe Greene because even his peers on those championship teams of the 1970s set him above and apart from all the other teammates of his era. I believe that Greene deserves to be the only player, because after him many of those greats are on a similar level of greatness. One example: picking Jack Lambert over Jack Ham and/or Mel Blount has nothing to do with respective greatness and everything to do with a personal affinity for one over the other, and the same argument can be made in picking Terry Bradshaw over Franco Harris, or vice versa. That’s why Greene’s jersey is the only one from that era to have been retired, and in my opinion, should remain the only one retired from those great Hall of Fame 1970s players.
CHERYL MARTIN FROM TARKIO, MO: Who decides to take the foot off the gas pedal when we have a big lead? It makes me ill, and I've seen it help us lose games one too many times.
ANSWER: All due respect, Cheryl, but you never have seen the Steelers blow the kind of lead they had vs. the Chargers on Sunday night. Want to know how I know that? Because in the last 62 games in which the Steelers have held a 20-plus point lead at halftime, they are 62-0. So unless you’re a gambler and worried about the point spread, r-e-l-a-x. Besides, you cannot actually be suggesting that going pedal to the metal with a rookie free agent quarterback making his first start, with the game on the road vs. an opponent with a quarterback who will end up in the conversation for a bust in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, is a high percentage move. Can you?
TIM TRATHOWEN FROM COLUMBUS, OH: If Mason Rudolph is available to play after the bye week, who would be the better option to start against Miami?
ANSWER: If my opinion mattered, which it does not, and if the decision were mine, which it certainly is not, I would start by making sure Mason Rudolph is more than available to return to play but that he is ready to return and has exhibited that readiness by his performance in practices and meetings. And if Rudolph is ready, then he would start against the Dolphins.
MARK LEE FROM ROCHESTER, NY: I have an idea for challenging pass interference. The NFL should install voting buttons on the back of each chair in the stadium. The fans then vote when a play is challenged. What do you think?
ANSWER: Great idea, because I’m certain the fans inside Gillette Stadium, for example, would be totally objective when voting on a pass interference challenge going against the Patriots.
DAVE STEFKO FROM LIBERTY, KY: Was Earl Thomas fined by the league for his cheap shot on Mason Rudolph? To me he clearly targeted the chin. Even Dan Fouts made mention of it several times during the game.
ANSWER: Earl Thomas was fined $21,000 for that hit on Mason Rudolph. Thomas has indicated he will appeal the fine.
LEO BESTERCI FROM SELDEN, NY: Are the Steelers’ kickoff returners given guidelines on when they could return the kick from the end zone or take a knee for a touchback?
ANSWER: I posed that question to Coach Mike Tomlin, and this was his answer: “I do (have rules), and the parameters and variables are different week-to-week,” said Tomlin. “Sometimes weather is a factor in terms of windage, the hang of the football based on the kicker’s ability. The kick can be 1-yard deep into the end zone, but it can be a very different kick if it’s 3.7 second hang-time 1-yard deep in the end zone as opposed to 4.5 second hang-time 1-yard deep in the end zone. There are a lot of variables and those change week to week, and so it’s something we talk about and think about in terms of making that determination.”