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Old 10-16-2006, 05:38 AM   #1
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Default Holmes comes alive

Monday, October 16, 2006

By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Santonio Holmes has had a pain his back since he leaped in the air and fell backward to the turf in San Diego, trying to catch a deep pass from Ben Roethlisberger.

One week later, he was a bigger pain to the Kansas City Chiefs.

In a game in which the big play finally re-emerged for the Steelers, it was Holmes who finally emerged as a big-play threat. And it didn't matter if he was making plays on offense or special teams.

Not coincidentally, Holmes came alive in the same game the Steelers breathed some life back into their season, and his production on offense and special teams was largely responsible for a 45-7 victory against the Chiefs.

Listen In


Postgame thoughts on the breakout performance of Steelers rookie receiver Santonio Holmes:
Bill Cowher
"The look in his eyes ..."

Ben Roethlisberger
"He's so dangerous ..."

"It felt real good," Holmes said. "I told coach during the week I wasn't feeling real good, but I fought through it and continued to go through practice and I told him if I got the opportunity to make those plays then I'm going to go forward."

Holmes, the first wide receiver selected in the NFL draft, did more than just go forward. He went left, right, even went backward to give ground on a 50-yard catch and run that set up the first touchdown.

When it was over, Holmes had accumulated 180 all-purpose yards for the Steelers, a breakout performance for a team that has been struggling to find breakout players.

"I like Santonio, I said that from Day 1," coach Bill Cowher said. "He's just got to play. He made some plays. He's getting a good feel for returning kicks and punts."

Holmes averaged 20 yards every time he touched the ball against the Chiefs, and the breakdown went like this:

Two catches for 58 yards, including the 50-yarder on third-and-11 on the third play from scrimmage, a play in which Holmes slipped near the sideline trying to cut inside cornerback Lenny Walls, the last defender. "I had 6 [points] on that," Holmes said. The play set up Willie Parker's first touchdown.

A 13-yard run from a direct snap on third-and-4 that set up a Jeff Reed field goal at the end of the first half.

Punt returns of 24, 21 and 11 yards.

Kickoff returns of 28 and 26 yards.

In the end, the only player who accounted for more yardage was quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who passed for 238 yards in his best performance since the AFC championship game.

"Santonio is one of those dangerous guys," Roethlisberger said. "You get him the ball in the open field, and normally he scores. He's making plays, and that's why they call him a playmaker. That's what he can do, and that's why he's so dangerous."

Holmes had not been much of a factor in the offense. After four games, he had caught just seven passes for 73 yards, returned three punts for 17 yards and did not have a run from scrimmage. His biggest contribution was as a kick returner, gaining 182 yards on eight returns.

But that all changed against the Chiefs.

With Willie Reid out with a mild foot sprain, Holmes finally got a chance to return punts. But he was not without mistakes. He muffed one punt that was recovered by Ike Taylor and fumbled another during a return that was recovered by Bryant McFadden.

Still, he gave the return teams a boost, showcasing an ability to become a big-play threat who could replace Antwaan Randle El. And he made the longest play for an offense that had five plays of 25 yards or longer -- nearly matching their total from the first four games (6).

"It was a lot of fun," Holmes said. "I told coach [Kevin] Spencer that if I get the opportunity to get a punt return, I'm going to make a big play out of it. And I think through the end of game I was able to make big plays on the punt return."

This could just be the beginning of Holmes' contribution to the offense. His role already was expanded a week ago in San Diego when he began rotating with split-end Cedrick Wilson with the first-team offense. Holmes plays every third series with the No. 1 unit, a move designed to take advantage of his big-play ability.

For now, he will remain the fourth receiver. But, eventually, Holmes will be worked into the first unit on a permanent basis, alongside Hines Ward. And it could be sooner than later.

"It kind of helped Ben get his confidence back," Holmes said about all the big plays. "And he's been telling us, 'Just make plays for me and that's all you have to do.' We knew all along we could make big plays, it's just the opportunities we had. We didn't have very many. But we took advantage of the ones we did have tonight
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Old 10-16-2006, 10:17 AM   #2
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Default Re: Holmes comes alive

Quote:
He's making plays, and that's why they call him a playmaker.
ben needs to quit stealing lines from john madden.
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Old 10-16-2006, 10:58 AM   #3
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Default Re: Holmes comes alive

I had no idea Santonio was playing with some pain in his back. Either way he looked like he slipped towards the end of that play. Even with a healthy back I'm not sure he would have been able to keep his footing.
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Old 10-16-2006, 11:59 AM   #4
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Default Re: Holmes comes alive

Needs to hold on to the ball better though.
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