Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Oct. 31

Let's get to it:

NICK MITCHELL FROM GLEN-LYON, PA: How many rushing yards did Jim Brown have in games against the Steelers?
ANSWER: During Jim Brown's storied NFL career, which lasted from 1957-65, he played 18 games against the Steelers. In those games, he had 342 carries for 1,985 yards (5.8 average) and scored 13 rushing touchdowns. Included in those 18 appearances, Brown posted 10 100-yard games, and he had another in which he finished with 99 yards rushing. In those 18 games, the Steelers were 6-12.

PERCEVAL SONDAG FROM NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ: What decides which team gets its bye week in Week 6 vs. Week 14? Considering how tired players get at the end of the season, I see a clear advantage to getting the bye week later on, and the Steelers have not gotten their bye after Week 7 since 2017.
ANSWER: The NFL uses a computer program to formulate its regular season schedule each year, and the teams' respective bye weeks are one of the numerous things included in the program, along with television matchups, primetime appearances, and a number of other issues. I actually believe the Steelers have been rather fortunate with the placement of their bye weeks lately, with the obvious exception of 2020 when the NFL stuck it to the Steelers because the Titans failed to manage COVID-19. But outside of 2020, the Steelers bye came in Week 7 in 2019, in 2018 it came in Week 8, in 2017 it came in Week 9, in 2016 it came in Week 8, in 2015 it came in Week 11, and in 2014 it came in Week 12.

ARTHUR GRAHAM FROM PUNTA GORDA, FL: It seems to me that Ben Roethlisberger takes forever at the line of scrimmage to take the snap from center. The center snaps the ball with less than 5 seconds left on the play clock. Why does Roethlisberger do this, and doesn't it allow the defense to better anticipate the timing of the snap?
ANSWER: The timing of the snap isn't the most important thing at work here. It's getting the defense to commit to the alignment it wants to be in for the snap. Defenses can do a lot of disguising and shifting before the snap, and a veteran quarterback such as Ben Roethlisberger is able to gather a lot of information before the snap by seeing how the defense reacts to motion and then gets itself into its alignment as the play clock winds down. The information Roethlisberger is able to obtain through this process as the play-clock winds down is more important to the outcome of the upcoming play than the fact the defense has a good idea of when the ball will be snapped.

ED BLAKE FROM SHREVE, OH: Who was Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback in 1969 when they won one game?
ANSWER: The 1969 Steelers finished with a 1-13 record with that lone victory coming in the opener against the Detroit Lions at Pitt Stadium. During that season – Chuck Noll's first as the team's coach – there were three quarterbacks who got playing time, and two of them started games. Dick Shiner, who entered the NFL as a seventh-round pick of Washington in 1964, started nine of the 14 games for the Steelers in 1969. The Steelers acquired Shiner in a May 1968 trade in which they sent quarterback Bill Nelsen and safety Jim Bradshaw in a trade to Cleveland for Shiner and defensive tackle Ron Parker. Shiner's record was 1-8 in those nine starts for the Steelers in 1969, and for the season he completed 97-of-209 (46.4 percent) for 1,422 yards with seven touchdowns, 10 interceptions, and a rating of 60.3. Terry Hanratty, the Steelers' second-round pick in 1969, started the other five games, and the team was 0-5 in those games while their rookie quarterback completed 52-of-126 (41.3 percent) for 716 yards, with eight touchdowns, 13 interceptions, and a rating of 41.0. The third quarterback to see playing time for the Steelers in 1969 was Kent Nix, who saw some fill-in duty in a few games and completed 25-of-53 (47.2 percent) for 290 yards, with two touchdowns, six interceptions, and a rating of 37.2.

JERRY BLANCHET FROM SACRAMENTO, CA: You've answered some silly questions about the kicking game recently – 4-point field goals, 1 point for kickoffs through the uprights – and so here's another: Has the league ever considered going in the opposite direction and eliminating all kicks? No kickoffs, field goals, extra points after touchdowns, or punts. Everyone already wants their team to go for it on fourth down and to go for 2-point conversions. Make it mandatory.
ANSWER: Abolishing all kicking from football never would happen, nor would it ever be considered, so I have an alternative proposal. Go back to the days when the players who handled the placekicking and punting were not simply specialists, but they played a position on offense or defense. As examples, in 1960, Green Bay's Paul Hornung led the NFL with 13 rushing touchdowns, made all 41 of his extra-point tries, and was 15-of-28 on field goal attempts; in 1961, Lions safety Yale Lary led the NFL with an average of 48.4 yards per punt while also finishing with six interceptions; in 1950, 1953, and 1954, Lou Groza led the NFL in field goal percentage while also starting every game as a left tackle for a Cleveland Browns team that made three appearances in the NFL Championship Game and won two titles; and in 1946, Steelers tailback Bill Dudley led the NFL in rushing attempts and rushing yards, while averaging 40.2 yards per punt. I don't have a specific, fool-proof way for administrating the plan in terms of how many snaps on offense or defense a guy would have to play to qualify to be the punter or placekicker, and I also admit the caliber of the punting and placekicking would suffer, but it would make the kicking aspect of the sport more interesting.

MARTIN FLAJNIK FROM ELLICOTT CITY, MD: To be a little fairer about the loss to the Texans in 2002, Tommy Maddox was coming off paralysis protocol that week. And Maddox did lead us to the win over the Browns in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs, and we should have beaten the Titans the next week. So, Tommy Gun did give us some thrills.
ANSWER: Tommy Maddox sustained the injury to his spine on Nov. 17 in Nashville, and the game against the expansion Houston Texans was played on Dec. 8, which was 21 days later. Not that any injury to the spine isn't serious, but I point that out only because you make it sound as though the game vs. the Texans was the next weekend. And regardless of the date of the game vs. the Texans, Maddox shouldn't have been on the field if he wasn't medically cleared and capable of playing winning football. And it wasn't as though the 2002 Steelers had no other options at the position, because in the two games Maddox missed because of the injury, Kordell Stewart quarterbacked the Steelers to wins over Cincinnati and the Jaguars in Jacksonville. In defeating the Bengals, 29-21, the Steelers controlled the ball for 34:08 and finished with no turnovers; in the 25-23 win in Jacksonville, they controlled the ball for 38:41 and finished with one turnover. Maybe the offense wasn't as "thrilling" or "exciting," but in the two games Stewart completed 73 percent for 438 yards, with one touchdown, one interception, and a rating of 96.5 while also rushing for another 124 yards and a touchdown. And if Maddox didn't give away the game vs. the Texans with his turnovers, the Steelers would've finished that 2002 season as the No. 1 seed in the AFC, which would have meant they get a bye instead of having to play the Browns in the Wild Card Round, and then they would have played the Titans the following week in Pittsburgh instead of losing in overtime in Nashville – a game in which Maddox threw another interception and finished with a rating of 77.9. Maybe you are satisfied with "some thrills," but with Maddox too many of those thrills were turnovers.

LEE HORELICK FROM LOUISVILLE, KY: Would it be legal for a team to place a player in front of the goalposts on a long field goal and have him jump up and try to block the ball from going over the crossbar?

SCOTT SOKOLOWSKI FROM NORFOLK, VA: As a public service announcement, please tell people to stop talking about the Steelers trading for Gardner Minshew. There's a lot of dumb trade talk out there, and this tops the list. I'd rather read more articles about the Steelers trading for Deshaun Watson.
ANSWER: What, no love for signing Cam Newton?

CARLA WILLIAMS FROM LOUISVILLE, KY: I don't think this question will be answered, but I'm going to ask it anyway: Why won't they sign Cam Newton as a backup quarterback?
ANSWER: Because too many Steelers fans are talking about trading for Gardner Minshew.

RALPH ROSSI FROM NORTHERN CAMBRIA, PA: I'm a big fan of Asked and Answered. I'm still laughing from your answer to the guy who wanted to make the game more exciting with the 4-point field goal. Your suggestion to have hungry lions released onto the field at designated times as another novel way of injecting "excitement," if considered, should have a trial game to see how exciting it could be. Maybe Ravens vs. Bengals?
ANSWER: Good idea. Then the "winner" could play the Browns.