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Week 1 vs. BAL
Receiving: 8 / 107 / 0 on 11 targets
Wallace is known for his big-play ability, but the Ravens' secondary did a nice job keeping the lid on the Pittsburgh's offense. The safeties mainly stayed deep (which worked quite well for Ed Reed with two interceptions), and the cornerbacks played off the Steeler receivers --- especially Wallace. His longest catch on the day was 26 yards. He did show, however, that he can still be effective on underneath routes. One of his catches was on a quick screen where he bolted upfield for a nice gain of nine yards. Wallace is the kind of receiver who can turn a two-yard pass into a touchdown from anywhere on the field. If teams are going to yield the short and intermediate routes to Wallace, he needs to capitalize as he did in this game in order to still be valuable. Once the defenders come up or get sucked in by play-action (which Pittsburgh couldn't do after being down by so much in this game), Wallace will get over the top for his patented long bombs.
Week 2 vs. SEA
Receiving: 8 / 126 / 1 on 9 targets
Wallace followed up a nice effort in a loss with a superb performance in a win. His eight catches once again show that he and the team view him as more than just a deep threat who gets the most out of his 4-6 targets per game. The team is using him on all kinds of routes --- including a beautiful slant-fade from the two where he caught his touchdown pass. Wallace faked out Browner (who may have been peeking into the backfield a bit as well) and easily separated from him to haul in the TD. The catch he made on his longest play of the day --- a 53-yarder --- was excellent. Roethlisberger was forced from the pocket a bit and had to throw in the face of a rush, which prevented him from keeping the pass outside the numbers on Wallace's line. Wallace altered his route slightly and snagged the ball with his fingertips just before its lead point hit the ground. It was a great exhibition of Wallace's ability to separate from defenders and adjust to a pass while it's in the air. As mentioned earlier, his day could have been bigger in the stat sheet if not for the pass interference call on Browner on what would have been a sure 40-yard TD.
Week 3 vs. IND
Receiving: 5 / 144 / 1 on 7 targets
This is the Mike Wallace everyone is used to seeing. While tying a career-high with 8 catches in each of the team's first two games, Wallace was very effective and was catching balls underneath coverage and taking what was given to him. In this game, however, he got loose deep on a very long route. Starting wide left, Wallace ran a deep post and got behind everyone, eventually catching the ball on the right side of the hash marks. The Indianapolis coverage on the play was poor in idea and execution as middle linebacker Pat Angerer was attempting to run with Wallace until safety help presented itself. As described in the Roethlisberger section, the safety was looked off effective and allowed Wallace to get behind him for the huge play.
Week 4 vs. HOU
Receiving: 4 / 77 / 0 on 4 targets
Wallace's streak of 100-yards games was broken. He caught a variety of passes in this one though. His first was a short pass where he added some yardage after the catch. On one occasion Ben had time (most likely due to two-minute drill, no-huddle conditions having Houston in the dime), Wallace ran a deep cross from wide right to numbers-left for a big gain to set up a scoring chance before halftime (on which the Steelers didn't score). In past years, the line issues would have been a serious worry for Wallace's production as he was more "boom-or-bust" until this season. With his growth running the full route tree and making plays with 10 yards of the line of scrimmage, he'll still be a valuable asset even if he doesn't hit his trademark "homerun" bomb as frequently.
Week 5 vs. TEN
Rushing: 1 / 8 / 0
Receiving: 6 / 82 / 1 on 7 targets
Wallace continues to blossom into a top-notch receiver. He catches short passes throughout the game but is always a threat to go deep at any time --- as evidenced by his late TD in this game. Wallace showed great hands on a pass that he scooped off the ground. It was originally ruled incomplete, but after a challenge, it was obvious that Wallace did a great job getting under the ball and securing the first-down catch. His speed continues to be unquestionably elite.
Week 6 vs. JAX
Receiving: 2 / 76 / 1 on 6 targets
Wallace continues to show that he's among the league's elite at the position. In what is likely to be among his least productive days of the year in terms of catches and targets, he still had an impact on the game and was able to get loose for a touchdown over the top of coverage. Pittsburgh ran tight end Heath Miller on a post and ran Wallace on one behind him from the same side of the field. Jacksonville's safety latched on to Miller as he crossed first, allowing Wallace to get behind him in the endzone. His other catch was a great display of concentration. After beating Rashean Mathis, the ball hung up on him a bit, allowing Mathis to get back into the play. The ball was slightly tipped by Mathis as it got into Wallace's hands. He juggled and maintained the catch for the first down gain. Wallace was also targeted on another deep play, but Roethlisberger threw the ball too far outside for him. Pittsburgh knows what he does best, and they are not afraid to utilize that skill multiple times in each game.
Week 7 vs. ARI
Receiving: 3 / 118 / 1 on 7 targets
It's almost getting old to say that Wallace is the fastest receiver in the NFL and can get behind any defensive back in the league. Much like last week, he did most of his damage on just one catch and had a couple other deep targets that he was unable to haul in. Double-coverage doesn't even stop him when he simply runs past it. Wallace's speed is elite, and the hamstring injury that popped up during the week didn't seem to be any problem at all.
Week 8 vs. NE
Receiving: 7 / 70 / 0 on 7 targets
This 70 yards represent's Wallace's lowest total of the year. It does not in my estimation, however, represent some kind of downward trend for him. Pittsburgh's plan was clearly to beat New England underneath, sustain drives, and possess the ball. Hitting Wallace deep would have been nice, but it would have put New England's offense back on the field and may have opened up the flood gates to a shootout that Pittsburgh clearly didn't want. Wallace likely caught as many passes in the middle of the field less than 10 yards from the line of scrimmage in this game than he has all year. He also had a couple of quick screens designed to get him in space and supplement the run game. On one of those, he was a good Heath Miller block away from breaking it down the sideline, but Miller couldn't quite get enough leverage to fully push the defender out of the way. Wallace is still elite, and the silver lining of a "bad" game (if 7 - 70 is bad) like this shows that he's learning to run every route and isn't simply a one-trick pony.
Week 9 vs. BAL
Receiving: 4 / 68 / 1 on 6 targets
Wallace was relatively quiet for the early parts of this game, receiving just one first half target and zero catches. The team got him more involved in the second half though. Wallace showed his blazing speed on his touchdown catch in a different fashion that his typical straight-upfield go routes that leave defensive backs in his wake. On this catch, he started wide left and ran a deep route. Roethlisberger rolled right, so Wallace ran his route that way too. He streaked across the goal line and snagged the TD catch all the way in the front-right corner of the endzone. Wallace is an elite receiver who has reached the level of being able to produce even against the toughest of defenses.
Week 10 vs. CIN
Rushing: 2 / 31 / 0
Receiving: 6 / 54 / 0 on 10 targets
Wallace did not have a long TD today but that was due to the windy conditions and good coverage by the defense. But he was still heavily involved in the offense by converting two key 3rd down plays. He also showed off his speed on two reverses for 31 yards. It was also nice to see him have a decent game without the long bombs we are so accustomed to see from him and Roethlisberger. Wallace is continuing to develop as a complete receiver and is not just a deep threat.
Week 12 vs. KC
Receiving: 2 / 17 / 0 on 6 targets
Wallace had a drop in the first quarter that would have been a sure TD. He started at the left of the formation and ran along the back line of the endzone, beating two defenders. Roethlisberger fired a dart, and Wallace slid but couldn't keep his hands on the ball. He was held in check for most of the game as Pittsburgh struggled to get into a rhythm against an exuberant Kansas City defense. Wallace did have two deep targets though. One was somewhat underthrown into double coverage, and the other was slightly tipped by the defender just before it got to him. He's still elite --- just a tough game against a spirited defensive effort here.
Week 13 vs. CIN
Rushing: 1 / -3 / 0
Receiving: 3 / 38 / 2 on 5 targets
It's ironic that Wallace scored multiple touchdowns in one of his least productive yardage games so far this season. The effort shown on his second touchdown, though, was a thing of beauty. He caught a quick screen pass and ran through multiple defenders, breaking a few tackles on his way to the end zone. Wallace also had one of his trademark deep targets, a play that resulted in a long pass interference penalty which set up a second quarter touchdown.
Week 14 vs. CLE
Rushing: 1 / 21 / 0
Receiving: 4 / 57 / 0 on 5 targets
Wallace began the night on a high note, catching a 22-yard pass on Pittsburgh's first offensive play. He also ran for 21 yards on an end around later in that drive, one that resulted in a touchdown pass by Roethlisberger. The Roethlisberger injury certainly hurt the rhythm of the pass offense, but a couple of fumbles deep in Cleveland territory also contributed. Wallace is still as fast as any player in the league and continues to force defenses to play 1-2 steps deeper than they would against most teams.
Week 15 vs. SF
Receiving: 5 / 66 / 0 on 11 targets
Perhaps a microcosm of Pittsburgh's offensive night, Wallace's biggest plays came on routes where he caught the ball within eight yards of the line of scrimmage. He opened his night with a nice slant route after Pittsburgh motioned a receiver to a four-WR bunch and left Wallace isolated one-on-one to catch the pass. He also caught a 3rd-down pass on a drag route that converted a first. But he was without his signature deep ball catch or causing of a pass interference penalty. He beat his man by two steps on a first quarter deep attempt, but Roethlisberger threw a flat ball that overshot Wallace. It will be interesting to see how frequently Wallace can make himself available for Charlie Batch if Roethlisberger rests his ankle next week.
Week 16 vs. STL
Receiving: 4 / 82 / 0 on 7 targets
Wallace continues to show that he's not a one-trick pony. Perhaps his most impressive play was a drag route from the offensive right side where Batch avoided rushers and lofted the ball over the defensive line to get it to Wallace in stride. Wallace used his speed to do the rest as he turned up the sideline for 20 yards. He did get back to his deep-ball-catching ways in this game though. Wallace got deep past one-on-one coverage for what appeared to be a 48-yard TD. Replay review ruled that he was down at the 1-yard line. Either way, it was the highlight play of the Pittsburgh passing game, and must have been a sight for sore eyes for a team who hadn't connected with Wallace deep in a couple weeks.
Week 17 vs. CLE
Receiving: 1 / 11 / 0 on 5 targets
Wallace and Roethlisberger were clearly not on the same page. On two separate occasions, quick slant passes hit Wallace in the helmet because he wasn't looking. On another occasion --- this time a drag route --- Wallace's head again wasn't up as Roethlisberger was looking to throw hot to counter-act the rush. Wallace's one catch was on a quick screen where he made some great moves to gain his 11 yards. But the team needs to get the Roethlisberger-to-Wallace connection back on track. Wallace's lone deep catch in the last few weeks came on a pass thrown by Charlie Batch.
Week 18 vs. DEN
Rushing: 1 / 1 / 1
Receiving: 3 / 26 / 0 on 10 targets
Wallace had many chances to make an impact on this game. He was given multiple deep targets, both on the quick "throw it up" type plays and also on plays where Roethlisberger held the ball and let Wallace attempt to beat coverage. In the second quarter, after momentum had begun shifting to Denver, Roethlisberger appeared to hit Wallace over the top for a 52-yard gain. Wallace, however, allowed the ball to hit the ground as he tumbled. In the fourth quarter, Wallace appeared to have beaten Champ Bailey on a deep post, but the ball was delivered a bit late, allowing Bailey to make up ground and nearly intercept the pass. Also in the second quarter, he caught a drag route at four yards on a 3rd-and-10. He had no defenders within three yards and appeared to have an easy lane to turn upfield and gain the first down. Instead, he ran toward the sideline in an "east-west" fashion and didn't get the necessary yardage. Wallace started this season looking like he was going to be an All-Pro. But he ended the season looking like a guy struggling to do more than one thing at a high level. When that one thing is going deep --- a low percentage pass --- impact on games is going to be sporadic and inconsistent. Wallace needs to learn how to be more productive on the short and intermediate levels so he doesn't "disappear" for portions of games.