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Great QBs, great teams

Join Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Trey from Jacksonville:
While I was watching the Steelers-Ravens game, the announcers kept saying Heinz Field was the most difficult place to attempt field goals. Why?

Vic: There are a couple of reasons: 1.) Toward the middle of the season, just before the field is re-sodded, the turf becomes loose and clumpy. Last Saturday, the turf was not an issue. 2.) Late in the season, the wind off the point, which is where the three rivers meet, comes into Heinz Field at its open end, which is the rivers end, and swirls. You don't want to have to kick in that direction in the fourth quarter with the game on the line.

Gabe from Jacksonville:
Can you explain what Kampman meant about Knighton when he said, "To have his size and the ability to flip his hips like pass-rushers have to do is impressive."

Vic: He was saying that Terrance Knighton is not stiff.

Scott from Port Charlotte, FL:
Brady is starting to remind me of Manning. Me and a couple of friends were watching the game and noticed Brady is now sacking himself. I've seen Manning do this many times but rarely ever saw Brady do it. I don't think his statistical career is in decline but he definitely does not play like the old Brady. Maybe he's getting tired of being sore the day after. Whatever it is, on one of the sacks Sunday, if he had not curled up and lost his pocket presence, he had a legitimate chance to throw a TD pass.

Vic: I saw it, too, and I thought to myself that he had lost his in-the-pocket movement for which he had always been famous. I always thought it was the best part of his game. I figured it was a sign of age and the residue of his ACL. Since then, I've learned that Tom Brady will have surgery for a stress fracture in his foot, which might be the reason for sacking himself and having lacked in-the-pocket movement in last Sunday's game.

Andrew from Neptune Beach, FL:
When watching the Ravens-Steelers game this past Saturday, I saw one of the Steelers defenders head-butting T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Why is that player not getting fined for that unprofessional act?

Vic: I don't know and, again, I just don't think it's that big of a deal. We're starting to get fine-crazy. If you've ever worn a helmet you'd know that the little bump between Ike Taylor and Houshmandzadeh was the equivalent of getting hit in the head by a cotton ball. Had it been seen, I'm sure it would've been penalized, as it should've been, but I'm tired of the fines.

Jason from Dayton, OH:
Tom Brady is one of the best to ever play the position, no question. With that being said, take away the assistance the Pats had from "Spygate" and I am not sure he would have won three Super Bowls already. I am certain the Steelers would have beaten them when Brady knew all the defensive audibles. Your thoughts?

Vic: I can't say that. The Patriots beat the Steelers in the 2001 AFC title game on the strength of two specials teams touchdowns. In '04, the Patriots dominated the Steelers; I think the '04 team was the Patriots' best in their run at the top. I will say this: "Spygate" colors how history will regard the Patriots' dynasty of the past decade.

Jared from Banning, CA:
What is the Jags' all-time record vs. the Steelers? I'm fairly certain we have a slight advantage, not to mention 1-0 in the playoffs.

Vic: The Jaguars are 12-9 against the Steelers, including the playoff win.

Mike from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Roethlisberger made plays his entire rookie year but, because he was a rookie and the Steelers went 15-1 with a great defense, he was defined as a game manager. So, even though he put a ball over three defenders in a spot that only his receiver could get it, Holmes gets all the credit. Then, on Sunday, he puts a 60-yard pass right on the money on third-and-19 and people still want to believe the defense won. It just shows you how hard it is to change perceptions once they've been put out there.

Vic: How many times have you heard people mention that Roethlisberger put the ball right on Holmes' hands in the back-left corner of the end zone on the play before the game-winning touchdown, and Holmes flat dropped the ball? How many times have you heard people mention that in Roethlisberger's rookie year Bill Cowher came out throwing at the start of games, using Roethlisberger to get a lead and then turning that lead over to the defense to protect? That's what the Steelers did in Jacksonville in that great game in 2004, and then when the defense lost that lead late in the game, Roethlisberger drove the Steelers to the game-winning field goal with just a few seconds left on the clock. He's an unliked guy and what that means is that those who don't like him won't tell you about his successes, but they're poised to tell you all about his next failure. No quarterback, and that includes Johnny Unitas and Joe Montana, who I consider to be the top two of all-time, gets it done at crunch time all of the time. Sometimes you lose.

Rob from Middleburg, FL:
Your email concerning the Bart Scott incident with the Steelers fullback just cements my dislike for today's players. It doesn't matter if they are behind 38-7 or ahead 38-7, they still are going to talk trash. I hate when a player tackles a player for a one-yard gain and gets up like he just won the Super Bowl, even though his team was behind 35-14. I hate the I-got-disrespected crap every play.

Vic: So do I, Rob, so do I. I turn and look away. That's how much I dislike it. I've always considered football to be a great vehicle for acting as a man and men don't tease and taunt; children tease and taunt.

Cliff from Jacksonville:
I believe there is another quarterback that could work behind Pittsburgh's line, David Garrard, and with that defense he would be winning, too. In fact, if you did nothing but change quarterbacks between the Jags and Steelers, I believe the quarterbacks' fortunes would be reversed. Ben would be home with us Jags fans watching David win the AFC.

Vic: That's an interesting perspective.

Thomas from Cambridge, MA:
Not only are the Jags the last to beat Pittsburgh in the postseason, I believe you confirmed that they are the only ones ever to win in Pittsburgh twice in a season. The Jets can be the second. Who do you pick?

Vic: I'm going with the road teams this weekend: Packers and Jets.

Joe from Jacksonville:
In fairness, Pittsburgh and Cleveland also got paid to go over to the AFC in 1970. Do you have any recollections of the story?

Vic: Yes, I do, and it's one of my favorite football stories. Browns owner Art Modell hated the idea of joining the old AFL teams, but Modell loved the idea of getting money for doing it, plus, the Browns and Steelers have always been connected at the hip and Steelers owner Art Rooney needed the money for his franchise, so Modell knew he had no choice but to go with the Steelers to the AFC. Right about the time the decision was to be made, Modell got one of his infamous ulcer attacks. This one landed him in the hospital, where Rooney went to visit Modell. A reporter was present during Rooney's visit and the reporter asked Rooney if he was going to the AFC and Rooney said, "I'm gonna go with my old buddy, Art." With that, Modell winced with pain.

Alex from Middleburg, FL:
Didn't Terry Bradshaw have an amazing defense and an amazing running back? Does that make him not an elite quarterback then?

Vic: Unitas had a pretty good defense and running back, too, as did Bart Starr and Troy Aikman and all of the multiple Super Bowl-champion quarterbacks, including Montana when the 49ers had Ronnie Lott, Charles Haley, Roger Craig and company. Great quarterbacks and great teams go hand in hand.

Shannon from North Little Rock, AR:
It seems everyone loves to see a defenseless receiver get beheaded over the middle, but when that same receiver dishes a little bit back in the form of a great block, he's labeled as dirty. What do you think of Hines Ward?

Vic: He changed the game. He turned the hunter into the hunted, which forced the league to create rules to protect the hunted.

Mark from Fernandina Beach, FL:
Please explain to us novices why the spread offense can't work in the NFL when it has been a big success in college. Football is football, isn't it?

Vic: It works in college football because the quarterback is a runner. Think of it like this: A college spread offense might have two wide receivers to the left and two to the right. They would be covered by three defensive backs on each side of the field, leaving five defenders against seven players on offense. In the NFL, the quarterback isn't a runner and the five defenders would only have one additional man to defeat, which is similar to a standard nine-on-seven drill. In college football, the quarterback is a runner and seven against five is a major advantage for the offense. If you make the quarterback a runner in the NFL, you're risking injury to the highest-paid guy on your team, unless you want your quarterback to be a run-but-not-pass kind of player. The problem with doing that, however, is that the defense would simply dedicate an extra defender to the line of scrimmage. To make the college spread work in the NFL, you need a quarterback that can run and throw with equal aplomb and possesses the durability of a running back.

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