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.
"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 playsy. 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.