Hines Ward Would Have Caught That!!!

Steelers Fever Exclusive Editorial

Tuesday, September 25th, 2013
By Tiger Rowan
Steelers Fever Columnist



My father loved Hines Ward. Now, I know that most Steelers fans will say that they loved Hines Ward, but not like my father. For him, not only was Hines Ward his all-time favorite player, Ward became the measuring stick for all other players.

Needless to say, for over a decade, every time that a Steeler receiver (mostly Plaxico Burress) would let a pass skip off of his fingertips, my father would say with disgust, "Hines Ward would have caught that!!!" Heck, even if a defensive back dropped an interception, you would be assured of hearing my father's catch-phrase: "Hines Ward would have caught that!!!" In fact, going a step beyond, the comparisons do not stop with just the Steelers; every single player in every single football game that my father watches is compared to Hines Ward.

And, why wouldn't that comparison be made? Hines Ward is arguably the toughest, most clutch wide-receiver to ever play football.

Alas, without that role-model of excellence patrolling the field for the Steelers, the last season & a half has been tough for my father... and even tougher for Ben Roethlisberger.

Which brings us to this season...

For three games now, I have watched Big Ben get hit, harassed, & harangued. In turn, the turnovers, sacks, and incomplete passes have come in droves. As a result, everyone is asking "Why?"... except for my father. All season long, my father has been stating and iterating, "Hines Ward would have caught that!!!"

Indeed.

Now, I am not saying that Ben is without blame (he has forced some throws), but his supporting cast is not helping him any. I have seen at least four deep passes fall off of the fingertips of Manny Sanders. Markus Wheaton has dropped passes that have hit him in the hands... passes that would have gained first-down yardage. The normally reliable Jericho Cotchery has been unable to even locate numerous passes, let alone catch them... which has killed drives and/or led to interceptions. Oh... and Antonio Brown slid to avoid a tackle.

Admittedly, the passes from Big Ben have not always been perfectly thrown, but when your quarterback is under duress, you HAVE to make those difficult catches. Hines Ward sure as heck would have!!!

Speaking of that duress, the offensive line has been truly that: offensive. That said, I have seen slow, incremental improvement each & every week.

The problem is threefold. First, they are all young players; they are the youngest starting line in the league. Secondly, they have never played together; Sunday was the only the second time that that line-up had been put on the field together... ever. Lastly, this unit has had two different coaches in the past two years, and as a result, they are thinking... instead of simply playing. In summation, what we are seeing on the field is a unit that is playing hot & cold. Thankfully, the hot is slowly starting to surpass the cold.

Alas, until the offensive line is playing hot on a consistent basis, Big Ben will, at times, only have one second to read & react... and I literally mean one second. During those moments when the pocket collapses, the receivers HAVE to dig deep into their being, and find their inner Hines Ward. Because, the passes are not going to be pretty... but, dagnabbit, Hines Ward would make those catches!!!

Speaking of receptions, I aver that if the Steelers had made one more poignant catch in each of the last three games, the results of those games would have been vastly different. As it is, momentum has been lost, drives have been killed, and/or game-deciding turnovers have been made... all because of those aforementioned dropped passes.

Likewise, if the offensive line continues to improve, and if Ben is not throwing while under duress (even if it is just one more "clean pocket" per game), and the receivers catch like Hines Ward... momentum will not be lost, drives will continue, and game-changing turnovers will turn into game-winning touchdowns. There is always the latest free bets to check at bookmakers.co.uk though.

Now, I know that I am the ├╝ber-optimist, but, again, I have seen improvement.

Due to this improvement, I foresee the most drastic turnaround that Steelers fans have ever experienced. Back in 1995, after being embarrassed at home by the Vikings, the media thought that the Steelers were dead... and that team nearly won the SuperBowl. Then in 2005, after a horrible showing against the Bengals, the pundits thought that the Steelers were dead... and that team did indeed win the SuperBowl. And now, after being dismantled by the Bears, the talking-heads think that the Steelers are dead... and this team... well, you can catch my drift.

Hines Ward certainly could.