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mesaSteeler
01-25-2009, 08:14 AM
NFL: Steelers' Holmes shines on playoff stage
Big plays have fueled Super Bowl run
Sunday, January 25, 2009 3:44 AM
By Tim May
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
http://www.columbusdispatch.com/live/content/sports/stories/2009/01/25/super_1-25.ART_ART_01-25-09_C1_9MCLT6D.html?sid=101

PITTSBURGH -- Santonio Holmes has no official nickname, but Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin planted a seed for one the other day. Time will tell if "Sniper" sticks, but then, next Sunday's Super Bowl might take care of that.

Holmes is a major reason the Steelers will play the Arizona Cardinals for the NFL's grand prize. The former Ohio State player has made huge plays in the postseason as a receiver and a punt returner. They not only helped fill the void for injured receiver Hines Ward but tagged Holmes, a third-year pro, as a rising star. Certainly, Tomlin said, Holmes has shown a flair for the dramatic.

"(Holmes) has that personality, he always wants to deliver a splash play," Tomlin said last week. "He loves that. He's a guy that wants to be a reason we win, and not through drudgery. He wants to kill you with a bullet."

Holmes shot down the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC championship game with a 65-yard touchdown reception on a short pass. And he helped eliminate San Diego the week before with a 67-yard punt return for a score. Neither opponent probably expected such big plays out of Holmes, but Ward did.

"It's just a matter of him getting opportunities," Ward said. "He's a phenomenal wideout, an up-and-coming kid. He has all the tools to be very special.

"I've always told him, 'The playoffs are where you make a name for yourself,' and he has totally done that. He has made big plays when they've presented themselves in the passing game, and he has made big plays on special teams."

Holmes caught 55 passes for 821 yards (14.9 average) in the regular season. He has grabbed four in two playoff games.

"I don't think this has been my breakout year; it's been more about showing up at the right time for this team," Holmes said. "We've been fortunate enough to make it to the playoffs, and when it really counted I was there to make the plays that we needed."

If anything, it's been a name- rebuilding season for Holmes. In October, he had to sit out a game after being cited by police for misdemeanor marijuana possession.

"I was working as hard as ever leading up to that point, and I have just continued doing that," Holmes said. "Nobody has talked to me about the situation, family members, nobody has asked me. I told them I am a grown man, that people make mistakes, but only the strong survive. I was able to overcome it."

Just like he had to wait his turn at Ohio State to become the featured receiver in 2004 and 2005, Holmes has persevered with the Steelers, who picked him in the first round of the 2006 draft.

"You have to pay your dues because it takes a lot of dedication and hard work to do what we do," Holmes said. "I could easily be distracted by all the little things that are going on in my life on and off the field.

"I could easily complain about not catching enough passes throughout the year (156 in three regular seasons) but my productivity never fades away."

To hear Tomlin talk about Holmes, his chances to produce grow with every offensive staff meeting. It goes back to Holmes' desire to turn any play into a big play, like his touchdown against the Ravens.

"I love that mentality in him; it's one as a coach that you embrace," Tomlin said. "It's one of the reasons why we try to find new and different ways to put the ball in his hands. Guys that have that personality, you want to give them the ball."

Said Holmes: "If you are a competitor, you want to be that guy."

Such a mentality was born while growing up in Belle Glade, Fla., Holmes said, and it was nurtured during his years at Ohio State while trying to please receivers coach Darrell Hazell.

"He would keep telling me, 'Only the great guys want to practice when things aren't going well for them,' " Holmes said. "I keep that in my mind to this day, that no matter what comes about, you've still got to perform."

tmay@dispatch.com

Hapa
01-25-2009, 08:39 AM
If only he stopped smoking weed. silly boy

Borski
01-25-2009, 10:59 AM
I still think his nickname should be Santonio "Smokey" Holmes