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Old 01-11-2012, 06:20 AM   #1
mesaSteeler
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Default Bires: Wallace faded at the finish

Bires: Wallace faded at the finish
http://www.timesonline.com/sports/lo...tml?mode=print
By Mike Bires mbires@timesonline.com | Posted: Wednesday, January 11, 2012 12:39 am

PITTSBURGH -- In two weeks, Mike Wallace will bask in the warm Hawaiian sun. He'll be there basking in the glory of his selection as a Pro Bowl wide receiver.

Wallace, one of NFL's fastest players, made it to the all-star game based primarily on what he did during the first eight games of regular-season play. During that time, he was the most feared pass catcher in the AFC.

However, in the Steelers' last eight games and then in Sunday's wild-card loss in Denver, Wallace was not Pro Bowl material. His performance was disappointing.

For as much as he overachieved in September and October, he underachieved in November, December and January.

And as the Steelers head into the off-season feeling so sad about the way their Super Bowl hopes ended, certainly Wallace must shoulder his share of the blame.

No doubt Ike Taylor was the No. 1 goat in the 29-23 overtime loss to Tim Tebow and the Broncos. His failure to cover Demaryius Thomas was arguably the worst post-season performance in franchise history.

But a second-quarter pass Wallace dropped will go down as one of the most infamous bobbles ever by a Steeler.

After the Broncos went ahead 7-6, it appeared that the Steelers would strike back immediately. On the Steelers' next possession, Ben Roethlisberger threw a bomb to Wallace for a 52-yard gain.

It was the Steelers' way of saying "Take that Tebow!"

But Wallace didn't catch the ball cleanly. He juggled it, and as he hit the ground, a piece of the ball touched the turf. The Broncos used instant replay challenge to dispute the catch, and after reviewing the tape, the referee overturned the call.

Instead of having momentum and the ball on the Denver 28, the Steelers were back at their own 20.

Two plays later, the Steelers punted. A few plays after that, Tebow scored to make it 14-6.

But if Wallace would have caught that 52-yard pass cleanly and the Steelers would have gone ahead with either a field goal or touchdown, who knows what the final outcome would have been?

In that wild-card game, Roethlisberger targeted Wallace 10 times. But only three times did they connect for just 26 yards.

Certainly Wallace didn't elevate his game when the banged-up Steelers needed it most.

Last year when Wallace ranked second in the NFL with a 21.0 yards-per-catch average, coach Mike Tomlin often referred to him as a one-trick pony. Wallace's forte was going deep. Few did it better.

This year, the Steelers wanted Wallace to develop into a better all-around receiver. They wanted improvement in running routs, reading defenses, catching the ball in traffic, breaking tackles after the catch, etc.

Early in the year, it looked like Wallace was progressing nicely in all areas. But down the homestretch, he showed that he still has a long way to go. In the second half of the season, he dropped way too many passes, some when he was wide open.

Just like the drop Sunday in Denver.

Catches like that are supposed to be routine for all-star receivers.

During the off-season, Wallace must work harder than ever to improve on all facets of playing wide receiver. If he doesn't, his upcoming trip to Hawaii may be his last.
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Old 01-11-2012, 10:35 AM   #2
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Default Re: Bires: Wallace faded at the finish

to be honest, Ben deserves at least some of the blame. Wallace had those big stat games early in the year primarily because he'd make a long catch or two each game... those long plays weren't there in the second half. it's not like he all of a sudden lost the ability to get open though.. i recall numerous times Ben overthrowing Wallace when he had his defender beat. they just couldn't get on the same page like they were earlier in the season.
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Old 01-11-2012, 12:31 PM   #3
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Default Re: Bires: Wallace faded at the finish

Ben isn't the one dropping the ball.
Wallace had numerous catches the latter half of the year that clearly should have been made and some other "possibles" that other great receivers may have and likely would have caught.

The 1st thing i noticed about Wallace throughout the year was his HUUUUUUGE head and atttiude...i thought "what happened to the competitive, humble guy from last year???".
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Old 01-11-2012, 12:46 PM   #4
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Default Re: Bires: Wallace faded at the finish

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Originally Posted by TRH View Post
Ben isn't the one dropping the ball.
Wallace had numerous catches the latter half of the year that clearly should have been made and some other "possibles" that other great receivers may have and likely would have caught.

The 1st thing i noticed about Wallace throughout the year was his HUUUUUUGE head and atttiude...i thought "what happened to the competitive, humble guy from last year???".
I posted in another thread that I would let him walk. He was always a project from day one. He's got bad feet (agility) and poor hands. His speed is impressive but I would take the elusiveness and hands of an AB over Wallace's speed any day. To my mind, AB is the best receiver on this team right now.
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Old 01-11-2012, 12:50 PM   #5
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Old 01-11-2012, 12:51 PM   #6
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Default Re: Bires: Wallace faded at the finish

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Originally Posted by ZoneBlitzer View Post
I posted in another thread that I would let him walk. He was always a project from day one. He's got bad feet (agility) and poor hands. His speed is impressive but I would take the elusiveness and hands of an AB over Wallace's speed any day. To my mind, AB is the best receiver on this team right now.
He'll be a restricted free agent, so it would be nice to get a first and a third rounder out of him. And someone will pony up, guaranteed.
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Old 01-11-2012, 01:12 PM   #7
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Default Re: Bires: Wallace faded at the finish

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Originally Posted by jjpro11 View Post
to be honest, Ben deserves at least some of the blame. Wallace had those big stat games early in the year primarily because he'd make a long catch or two each game... those long plays weren't there in the second half. it's not like he all of a sudden lost the ability to get open though.. i recall numerous times Ben overthrowing Wallace when he had his defender beat. they just couldn't get on the same page like they were earlier in the season.
That is true, Ben did overthrow many passes in the second half of the season.
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Old 01-11-2012, 02:50 PM   #8
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Default Re: Bires: Wallace faded at the finish

No way someone gives a 1st and 3rd for Wallace. The Raiders are the only team that would but they already trades them
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Old 01-11-2012, 02:54 PM   #9
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Default Re: Bires: Wallace faded at the finish

towards the end of the season they started sending Wallace down the sideline with Ben trying to time the throw and lob it over the defender's head. coverage was always tight and the throws well past Wallace. they were 0 for 2 on that play against Denver.

I thought Wallace was best going across the middle and hitting him 10-15 yards down field when he was in full stride.

When the deep ball is called Ben always goes that way, even though some times you need to bag the throw in tight coverage (like last year's pick six against the Packers) and go short to someone else.
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Old 01-11-2012, 04:09 PM   #10
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Default Re: Bires: Wallace faded at the finish

Should Wallace have made the catch, probably. Was it a poorly thrown ball, yes. If it were thrown out in front of him was it an easy td, yes. It was not an easy catch IMO. Ben missed him early also with an overthrow down the sideline.
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