Thursday, September 22, 2011
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11265...#ixzz1YgxWYGbh
Mike Wallace flashed more than one trick again. He showed more sleight of hand with a shoestring catch of a low, 53-yard pass from Ben Roethlisberger. He displayed another, when, on a running play from the 2, he read his quarterback's mind and, with no audible call, ran a fade route for a 2-yard touchdown.
All that came with another 100-yard game Sunday vs. Seattle for Wallace, who said afterward that he no longer heard coach Mike Tomlin "call me a one-trick pony anymore."
Two days later, Tomlin referred to Wallace as a "one-trick guy."
"He's killing me, man, killing me," Wallace said, smiling as he did so. "I thought we were done with that. Last year, he said I was 11/2, so I kind of took a step back I guess."
His quarterback weighed in on the matter.
"He's about two tricks now," Roethlisberger said.
Wallace has fast become one of the most dangerous receivers in the NFL. He led the league his 2009 rookie season with a 19.4-yard average per catch, upped that to 21.0 last season to lead the AFC and came out with a bold goal for 2011 -- the first man to catch 2,000 yards in passes in a single season.
He is on pace for 1,864.
"I got to pick it up," Wallace said, again laughing before he turned serious. "I don't worry about that. Before the season, it's fun to talk about that stuff. But, once the season starts, I just want to make plays and win."
His blazing speed was at the root of Tomlin's one-trick comments his rookie season. The one-trick stuff stuck because, basically, he ran "go" routes -- go as deep and as fast as you can. It is a reason he was drafted in the third round in 2009, not the first. At Mississippi, they did not ask him to run intricate routes, just go deep. He had to learn the rest once he arrived here.
"I never really worked on it," Wallace said. "When I got here, I started running stuff, and it was different. Now, I can run them pretty good."
The perfect example came on that 2-yard fade Sunday against the Seahawks. A run was called in the huddle, but Roethlisberger looked at Wallace, and they both understood to run the fade; the other nine players did not know and carried out their run assignments. You can't run that play anywhere but near the goal line or risk having illegal players downfield on the pass.
"He feels what I was doing and I feel what he's doing, and that's the way it's got to be," Wallace said.
Said Roethlisberger, "I trust him to know what I'm going to do and -- scary for me to say -- I trust what he's going to do. It's one of those things that worked out good and, if it didn't work, we'd probably get yelled at for it."
The quarterback said Wallace has gotten better because he wants to, but, like Tomlin, Roethlisberger wants to make sure his young receiver remains hungry, so he does not overdo the heavy stuff.
"He has pretty good hands, I wouldn't say he has great hands," Roethlisberger said. "He'll argue he has the best hands on the team, but he also thinks he's the best shuffleboard player, the smartest and he thinks he's No. 1 in everything. I think he has good hands, though, and I think he works real hard at it."