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Old 12-19-2006, 04:25 AM   #1
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Default Holmes' TD run-back validates Cowher's faith in him

Scott Brown
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Tuesday, December 19, 2006


Bill Cowher didn't blister the punt returner that's made Steelers fans more nervous than Steelers opponents this season.
Instead, he simply said, "Tone, you're way better than that."

Given yet another vote of confidence from his coach -- not to mention a reprieve, since a penalty nullified his lost fumble against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday -- Santonio Holmes returned the next punt 65 yards for a touchdown.

His second NFL touchdown -- and his first on a return -- came early in the fourth quarter and left the Panthers looking like road kill.

After the Steelers' 37-3 victory at Bank of America Stadium, a relaxed Holmes talked about shrugging off the punt return that he botched.

That's something the rookie may not have been able to do earlier this season, which is probably as good an indicator as any of the progress Holmes has made.

The Steelers' No. 1 pick in April's draft started his second consecutive game at split end and came up just short of the end zone twice after catching Ben Roethlisberger passes.

He appeared to stretch the ball across the goal line in the second quarter, and officials initially gave him a touchdown. But the Panthers challenged the call, and it was overturned.

Holmes eventually scored that elusive touchdown in the fourth quarter, after the Panthers were called for an illegal procedure -- they had recovered his fumble on the muffed punt. And Holmes made them pay, while also atoning for his mistake.

The blocking was so well executed on the return, Holmes said, "I think if I would have caught it (on the play he fumbled), I probably would have (scored), but I took my eye off the ball."

That problem plagued Holmes early in the season, as he fumbled a handful of times on punt returns and committed a critical turnover in the Steelers' 41-38 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.

Cowher, perhaps keeping his eye on a bigger picture, stuck with Holmes.

And Holmes has rewarded Cowher for the faith he's shown in the former Ohio State star. Holmes has gradually become a bigger part of the offense, while also reducing the drops on special teams.

"The guys know, on this team, that I can make plays, and I have confidence in myself," said Holmes, who is second on the team in catches (40) and receiving yards (610) and is averaging 10.3 yards on punt returns.

Holmes is making the kind of plays the Steelers envisioned when they moved up in the first round of the draft to take him.

Meanwhile, his relaxed play mirrors that of the Steelers, who have won five of their past six games after starting the season 2-6.

"Early in the year, we kept pressing. Guys were trying to do too much," receiver Hines Ward said. "It seems like we respond better when adversity sets in and our backs are against the wall, because guys play a little more loose. They don't play uptight."

Uptight is what Holmes might have been earlier this season after fumbling a punt.

But he put Sunday's drop behind him as quickly as he did the players on Carolina's punt coverage team.

After getting to the outside, Holmes saw that he only had to beat Panthers punter Jason Baker to get to the end zone.

"The one thing that was running through my mind was: 'Don't let that kicker tackle you like he did in Atlanta,' " Holmes said.
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Old 12-19-2006, 06:24 AM   #2
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Default Re: Holmes' TD run-back validates Cowher's faith in him

When he's consistent on the punt return, then I'll stop holding my breath
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Old 12-19-2006, 06:27 AM   #3
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Default Re: Holmes' TD run-back validates Cowher's faith in him

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Originally Posted by stlrtruck View Post
When he's consistent on the punt return, then I'll stop holding my breath
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Old 12-19-2006, 06:48 AM   #4
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Default Re: Holmes' TD run-back validates Cowher's faith in him

I agree with both of you, but you gotta give the kid props for that return TD - he turned the jets on and got into the endzone to redeem himself. Nice play kiddo!
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Old 12-19-2006, 07:49 AM   #5
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Default Re: Holmes' TD run-back validates Cowher's faith in him

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When he's consistent on the punt return, then I'll stop holding my breath
I agree. I've already seen enough of that from Colclough in the beginning of the season. Redeem him when he proves he can go five weeks without fumbling or bobbling a punt.
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Old 12-19-2006, 08:31 AM   #6
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Default Re: Holmes' TD run-back validates Cowher's faith in him

Speaking of Colclough, why did Cowher keep him back there? I mean, why did he even return kicks in the first place. I know he's athletic, but he's just a bust when it comes to playing football.
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Old 12-19-2006, 08:49 AM   #7
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Default Re: Holmes' TD run-back validates Cowher's faith in him

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Speaking of Colclough, why did Cowher keep him back there? I mean, why did he even return kicks in the first place. I know he's athletic, but he's just a bust when it comes to playing football.
One of the many coaching decisions made this year that baffles the mind. Unless your one of those people who feel "Ricardo dropped the ball, Cowher didn't". Then I guess you don't believe it was a bad coaching decision. That's normally the well thought out response to this topic even though it was Cowher's decision to put Colclough in there to begin with.

Once again, he looked shaky in 2005 when it came to PR's. Before this season even started reports out of Latrobe stated that he didn't look all that great when returning punts. Coach still put him in there over the guy we drafted for that particular situation.

Infamix, I have no idea. If you find out, let me know and I'll pass it along to the majority of the media and fans in this city who were asking the same question for the first three weeks of the season.
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Old 12-19-2006, 10:27 AM   #8
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Default Re: Holmes' TD run-back validates Cowher's faith in him

I still say bench him on returns. How many people would go with a guy who has one return TD, but fumbles in almost double digits?

Two words: Najeh Davenport.





Aw man, could you see Polamalu back there returning kicks?
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Old 12-19-2006, 10:31 AM   #9
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Default Re: Holmes' TD run-back validates Cowher's faith in him

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I still say bench him on returns. How many people would go with a guy who has one return TD, but fumbles in almost double digits?

Two words: Najeh Davenport.





Aw man, could you see Polamalu back there returning kicks?
I agree, he did get us SIX when we didnt need it. But how many points did he give up on his turnovers in our losses????
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Old 12-19-2006, 11:33 AM   #10
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Default Re: Holmes' TD run-back validates Cowher's faith in him

I agree, he has not shown me enough to gain my confidence. He returned a punt for a TD after fumbling and losing the first punt that was called back for illegal procedure. Carolina gave him two chances. I know that myself and my Steeler buddies yell "FAIR CATCH, TAKE A KNEE, RUN AWAY FROM THE BALL, RUN OUT OF BOUNDS" evertime the opposing team punts to Holmes! Like him as a receiver, not so much as a return guy!
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