Santonio Holmes returns to Heinz Field with the New York Jets Sunday and his performance has been about what his bosses had hoped to get from him when they traded a fifth-round draft pick to the Steelers in April.
After serving a four-game suspension to start the season, Holmes has 41 receptions for 620 yards, a 15.1-yard average and four touchdowns. He dropped a pass in the end zone Sunday when he was wide open and the ball hit him in the facemask. It cost the Jets four points when they settled for a field goal in a 10-6 loss to Miami.
But that is what you get with Holmes, who dropped two touchdown passes in close losses for the Steelers last season. He can make the spectacular play and miss the easy one. He helped the Jets win three consecutive close games with big catches in regulation or overtime this season.
The reunion of particular interest will be Holmes vs. cornerback Ike Taylor. The two were together for four seasons after the Steelers drafted Holmes in the first round in 2006.
"Santonio came off his four-game suspension and is really doing his thing, turning into a man, coming up late in big games -- three touchdowns I think in three games, game-winning touchdowns," Taylor noted. "We know what 'Tone can do. You can see [quarterback Mark] Sanchez looking for him every game. That's what he does.
"No question, he'll be fired up. He'll be ready. I'll be ready, he'll be ready."
So will safety Ryan Clark, who insisted that Holmes was a good teammate and never caused internal problems when he played with the Steelers.
"I'm excited about it," Clark said. "First of all, excited because he's playing well. I think he's an amazing player. And despite all the outside stuff people say about him, he was a good teammate. He's a good guy in the locker room -- never any problem in the locker room, didn't have an attitude, wasn't arrogant -- so it's good to see him doing well.
"Next week I hope he doesn't catch a pass."
Mike Wallace replaced Holmes as the starting split end for the Steelers. His five receptions for 78 yards Sunday gives him 46 for 946 yards. Those yards rank eighth in the NFL. He is second in the league with an average of 20.6 yards per catch and his eight touchdowns rank 10th.