Steelers receiver Mike Wallace pulls in a pass as he is defended by Jets defensive back Kyle Wilson in the fourth quarter Sunday at Heinz Field.
By Ed Bouchette Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Mike Wallace is off to the fastest scoring start in his career. Imagine where he might be had he gone through training camp.
You will get no argument from him.
"I think training camp helps me," Wallace said after catching his second touchdown pass of the season Sunday in the Steelers' 27-10 victory against the New York Jets.
"I think I could be even better now if I would have gone through training camp. I would have liked to be in training camp, but you know ... "
Business is business, and right now that's behind him and so too are any suggestions that Wallace might not be in the best frame of mind because of his long holdout and his inability to come together with the Steelers on a multiple-year contract.
Two games into what might be his final season with the Steelers, Wallace has again shown just how dangerous he can be.
He caught five passes for 74 yards Sunday, and his 37-yard touchdown was typical and atypical of Wallace at the same time.
It's no surprise he and Ben Roethlisberger hooked up for another deep pass, coming within 3 yards of extending their franchise record of 40-yard touchdown passes, which stands at 11.
The difference this time is that Wallace did not blow past Antonio Cromartie to catch it. The Jets cornerback stayed with him but Wallace adjusted, came back to the inside of Cromartie to catch the deep ball and kept both feet inbounds in the end zone.
This catch came after Wallace shielded the defensive back with his body last week in Denver to catch a 3-yard touchdown pass over the middle.
His renowned speed meant not so much on either score, but his ability to adjust and to finesse the defenders came more into play.
"I think I'm moving in the right direction," Wallace said Sunday. "I'm helping my team, that's all that really matters."
Ten different receivers caught passes, led again by Antonio Brown, who had seven receptions for 79 yards. Emmanuel Sanders caught three, Heath Miller three, and Jerricho Cotchery one big 6-yard catch over the middle to the 1-yard line on third down.
"I feel we have the best wide receivers in the world," Wallace said. "Anytime you have so many good guys it's hard keeping guys off the field. They have to play too. It's a compliment to our coaches and our players. You don't see too many teams that can switch two players out each and every play."
He says he even likes the new offense.
"I love the ball control we're doing," Wallace said. "I think we're really efficient, not having too many turnovers. I think if we keep going like this, we'll always have ourselves in the game and give ourselves a chance to win. If you're not turning the ball over, you'll always have chance to win."
Wallace looks more like a four-trick pony these days.
Backs expect improvement
The ground game the Steelers wanted to improve does not look pretty on paper. They have just 141 yards rushing in two games, a 2.6 yards per carry average and one touchdown.
Sunday, they managed only 66 yards rushing and 2.4 yards per carry.
"It's tough finding holes, we're kind of struggling right now," running back Isaac Redman said. "But each game we hope to get better and better."
Redman and Jonathan Dwyer pointed to the 14-play drive that lasted more than 10 minutes and covered 75 yards in the fourth quarter to put the game away for the Steelers.
They ran seven times for 30 yards on that drive, the final rush a fine 2-yard touchdown run by Redman, who was stopped off the right side, broke free and ran to his right to score.
"When you're trying to run the clock down and try to run the ball, when you do it like we did it, it's something to build on," Redman said.
"When we have the lead we want to be able to run the ball when they're putting a lot of guys in the box and that's what we were able to do."
Dwyer set up Redman's touchdown run with a 7-yard run to the 2.
The two backs each had 12 of the team's 28 carries Sunday after Redman made his second start. The Steelers have averaged 27 carries per game after two weeks. That's right on spot with their average of 27 carries last season, but they have a long way to go to match the 4.4 yards per carry they produced in 2011.
"I like the way it's going," Dwyer said. "Throughout the course of a game, you're going to have ups and downs. That's the game of football. When it was time for us to step up, when it was time for us to make plays, the offensive line gave me and Red an opportunity and we made the best of it.
"We just want to pound the ball, show that we mean business, that we're a physical team. That's what Pittsburgh Steelers football is all about and we just feed off that."
The specter of Rashard Mendenhall looms too. He has practiced the past two weeks and appears to be nearly ready to return, although the Steelers might wait until after the next game and the off week that follows.
"We'll see what happens," Dwyer said of the prospect of having a trio of backs running the football. "Maybe it's a three-headed monster. We have a good group already and when we get Rashard back, that makes us a dangerous group."
• James Farrior popped into the Steelers locker room after the game, chatting with teammates in his first trip back since the Steelers released him March 2. He stated what pretty much has become obvious, that he's now retired. "It's not official but I'm not really looking for a club," said Farrior, who now lives in his new wife's hometown of Houston.
• Ike Taylor, whistled for a phantom pass interference penalty on a play in which he never laid a hand on the wide receiver, shrugged off the call. "Those guys have a difficult job as it is. I don't get frustrated. I have to play ball," Taylor said.
• LaMarr Woodley had his first sack since the eighth game of 2011, when on Oct. 30 he had his eighth and ninth. The second half of his season was ruined by a lingering hamstring injury. "It definitely feels good," Woodley said. "I haven't had a sack since last year -- October against the Patriots. It feels good to get a sack."