Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered: Sept. 17

Let's get to it:

KEITH MILLER FROM WAYNESVILLE, NC: Was stopping the Giants running game last Monday night more the ability of the Steelers' defense or the lack of ability of the offensive line of the Giants?
ANSWER: The first step toward stopping an opponents' running game is winning the one-on-one battles up front, and then it's about getting off blocks, being in the correct gaps, and getting to the football. If you want to view the Steelers' ability to do that consistently against a runner with the combination of speed/power that Saquon Barkley possesses as a deficiency in the Giants, that's your prerogative. How about simply acknowledging the Steelers defense did a good job stuffing the run against a good back vs. a team that would've liked nothing more than to control the game by running the football. And let me ask you a question: when you watch one player defeat another player in a one-on-one matchup, exactly how can you tell whether one guy did a good job or the other guy did a poor one?

LARRY LAWHEAD FROM GLEN CARBON, IL: I was very pleased to see the Steelers win a tough game against the Giants. They hung tough, they made some big plays on offense and defense (if not special teams). As you noted: "It says something about them that they get to (work on their game) at 1-0 instead of 0-1." I think it says a lot. Am I overstating the importance of that first win?
ANSWER: This is what I can tell you: Of the 12 teams that made the playoffs in 2019, 11 of them won their season opener.

BRIAN MORELLA FROM POLAND, OH: Great win to start the season. The signing of Derek Watt was surprising when it happened, and after only getting eight snaps vs. the Giants, do you think that money could have been spent elsewhere? Like extending Mike Hilton?
ANSWER: Wow. After one game, you want to label the free agent signing of Derek Watt a bad move? And while Watt played eight offensive snaps, he played 19 special teams snaps, which was more than anyone else on the team. I'm not advocating Derek Watt over Mike Hilton, but you make it sound as though it was an either/or signing situation, and my years of doing this has taught me that is very rarely the case. How about we give it a little bit more time to see how the fullback is worked into the offense, and give the offensive coaches and Derek Watt a little bit of time to get to know each other.

TYLER VANCE FROM HUNTINGTON, WV: Do you think after seeing Diontae Johnson lacking confidence as the punt returner that the Steelers are thinking of bringing back Ryan Switzer?
ANSWER: Diontae Johnson muffed the first punt of the game, but the defense bailed him out and forced the Giants to settle for a field goal. After that, I thought he settled down and did OK. He did have one return for 12 yards, which qualifies as a very good return because in 2019 only two punt returners finished the season with an average in double-digits – Johnson at 12.4 and Braxton Berrios at 11.4. Because Johnson led the NFL in punt return average in 2019 while returning one 85 yards for a touchdown and then bounced back from that one muff with an otherwise solid game – and remember there was no preseason for him to work out the kinks – I cannot imagine Coach Mike Tomlin would give up on him so quickly.

GREG SMITH FROM GAINESVILLE, FL: I was checking out who is still available via free agency and saw that Kelvin Beachum is not currently signed. Any chance Pittsburgh brings him back to add some depth to the offensive line?
ANSWER: Kelvin Beachum is not unsigned. He started at right tackle for the Arizona Cardinals last Sunday, and he played all 82 snaps on offense plus six on special teams in their 24-20 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.

NATHAN GEISLER FROM BOISE, ID: I was just thinking about the history of Steelers vs. Giants. I remember seeing somewhere one of the biggest blowouts in Steelers history was against the Giants at Forbes Field. I believe the score was 63-7. And there is an iconic photo of Giants Hall of Fame quarterback Y.A. Tittle bloodied on his knees after getting sacked in a game against the Steelers. I was wondering if you recap that game and share any information that you know about that photograph?
ANSWER: Because the Steelers and New York Giants both were in the Eastern Conference of the NFL, they played a home-and-home series from 1933-69, with the exception of 1936, 1944, 1952, and 1969 when they played each other once. Starting in 1970, following the NFL-AFL merger, the Steelers moved to the AFC while the Giants stayed in the NFC. Anyway, those two events you referenced – the Steelers' 63-7 victory, and Y.A. Tittle being bloodied after a sack – came in two different games.

The 63-7 victory over the Giants came on Dec. 1, 1952 at Forbes Field, with the Giants at 6-3 and tied with Cleveland and Philadelphia for the lead in the Eastern Conference, while the Steelers were 3-6 and close to the basement. Lynn Chandnois returned the opening kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown to give the Steelers a 7-0 lead, and before the half ended Chandnois had scored another touchdown, and quarterback Jim Finks had thrown touchdown passes to Elbie Nickel and Ray Mathews. In the fourth quarter, the Steelers scored four more touchdowns, and there was this interesting note from the game: Giants quarterback Tom Landry, playing because of injuries Charley Conerly and Kyle Rote, completed 4-of-25 for 108 yards, with one touchdown, four interceptions, and a rating of 18.8. That loss to the Steelers ruined the Giants' chances to win the Eastern Conference, and the Steelers finished 5-7.

The game that resulted in the iconic photo of Tittle was played on Sept. 20, 1964 at Pitt Stadium. The Steelers won, 27-24, and it was defensive end John Baker who delivered the blow that left Tittle bloodied and on his knees. In the 1963 regular season finale, the Giants had hammered the Steelers, 33-17, at Yankee Stadium in a winner-take-all game for the Eastern Conference championship and a spot in the NFL Championship Game, and so the second game of the 1964 season gave Pittsburgh a chance at a bit of payback. But by 1964, neither the Steelers, who would finish the season at 5-9, nor the Giants, who would finish at 2-10-2, were contenders.

SCOTT SWEENEY FROM HICKORY, PA: I know you hate position change questions but here is one anyway: Have you ever heard rumblings about trying to convert Dan McCullers to the offensive line? It looks like we may be light in that area this year due to injuries and next year due to the salary cap.
ANSWER: So your idea is to take a 28-year-old who played defensive line in college and for seven years in the NFL and then, presto-changeo, make him an offensive lineman? You are right about one thing: I do hate position change questions, but this one was so far out there I had to share it.

TIM SIVERD FROM SOUTH HILL, VA: What do you think of the Steelers charging a fee to have a cardboard cutout made of a fan so that the fan appears to be at the game? I would pay to do it.
ANSWER: Based on interviews done by Steelers President Art Rooney II, I believe the primary focus is working toward creating a clean and safe environment at Heinz Field so that at some point flesh-and-blood fans will be able to watch games live. I don't believe the expectation is for a capacity crowd, but that's where the Steelers efforts are being focused at this point.

JON HOFMANN FROM GRIDLEY, IL: Do you know where I can look to see a snap count for players? I've been unable to find anything online other than for fantasy football.
ANSWER: Yes. Here it is: Go to NFL.com, and click on the "Scores" icon, which is located on the blue bar across the top of the home page. That will direct you to a page, where on the upper right there are drop-down boxes for which year and which week of the season the game in question was played. That will take you to another page where all of the games that week of that season were played. Scroll down to the matchup that interests you, and on the right there is a link that reads "Game Details." Click on that, and it will direct you to another page where you will see an option to "Download Game Book PDF." Download the Game Book, and when you open the download, the players' snap totals are listed on the final couple of pages. Good luck.

MICHAEL RICKLEY FROM BRUNSWICK, MD: Can the Steelers put Terrible Towels in every seat at Heinz Field during home games, and maybe attach them to a device placed in the seat that makes the Towels twirl? Can you imagine the entire stadium with a Terrible Towel twirling in every seat for our home games? That would be amazing.
ANSWER: Amazing is one word for it.

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