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|12-04-2011, 10:23 PM||#1|
A Son of Martha
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Wallace clings to victory
Wallace clings to victory
Andrew Chiappazzi Times Sports Correspondent | Posted: Sunday, December 4, 2011 6:36 pm
PITTSBURGH - Dropped passes make Mike Wallace sick.
So when he dropped a couple as part of a season-low, two-reception, 17-yard performance against Kansas City last week, Wallace vowed to make things right again.
"I feel like I'm a big-time player and any time I have a bad week, that's not me. I don't drop the ball. That's not what I do," Wallace said. "So any time I have a game where I drop a ball -- especially more than one -- it gets to me. It's about pride."
Wallace restored a little bit of pride against Cincinnati by hauling in two touchdown passes and drawing a pass interference penalty that set up a third. Though he ended up with just three catches for 38 yards, Wallace was back to his explosive, elusive self.
"It just feels good to make some plays," Wallace said. "It's been a slow couple of weeks but it was a good one today."
Wallace struck first with the pass interference penalty. Cincinnati's secondary is banged up, with top corner Nate Clements out, and the Steelers took advantage with a couple deep balls early. That led to safety Chris Crocker pulling on Wallace to draw a 45-yard penalty early in the second quarter. Rashard Mendenhall's touchdown capped off that drive to give Pittsburgh a 14-0 lead.
"I would have much rather caught it. But we'll take it any way we can," Wallace said.
Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said the ball was uncatchable, and video replays suggested that Wallace would at least have had a challenge to haul in the pass.
So, could he have caught it?
"Oh yeah," said Wallace, who laughed and added, "I'm not sure. I'm just glad they called the flag. He grabbed me. It is what it is. The world may never know."
There was no doubt about the impact Wallace had on his two touchdowns. The first came just over a minute after Mendenhall's touchdown, as Wallace faked a move inside and cut back toward the deep pylon. Bengals corner Kelly Jennings bit hard on the fake, and Wallace hauled in the easy 12-yard touchdown pass. Jennings was starting because of Clements injury.
"It's the NFL. Everybody gets big checks. No one's out here playing just to be out there," Wallace said. "You might have to be a little more skeptical when they don't have their starters in, because guys are out there trying to make a name for themselves."
Wallace embarrassed multiple Bengals on his second touchdown. He caught a short pass on the sideline, made a couple nifty moves in traffic, turned on the jets, and made one last move into the end zone for a 19-yard score.
"Yeah, I had to get in there," Wallace said. "Once I made the first two guys miss and saw the end zone, I was like, 'I'm getting there.'"
Wallace isn't feeling sick anymore. He erased the memory of the drops with a fine performance and the Steelers cruised to a big victory. The experience left him cautiously optimistic about being able to move forward.
"It's not like that every week. We just have to keep playing. Last week we had a bad week and people didn't know about us," Wallace said. "As long as everybody keeps their head right, we'll be fine."
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