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Just get the job done

Join senior editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Ed from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
The most amazing thing people missed about the Polamalu bad call is that when the camera showed Troy putting on his helmet immediately after the bad call and went back to work, there was no pouting, no frowns, no words to the official; a super pro. They should show that part of the clip to every player in the NFL. I believe Rashean Mathis is like that. Do you agree?

Vic: It was the first thing I noticed and I absolutely agree that Mathis would've reacted the same way. He's a pro, which I consider to be the highest praise that can be bestowed on a player. That's what I respect; a total dedication and focus on getting the job done. I don't wanna see whining, crying, dancing or any other useless expression. I wanna see players express themselves with their performances. I wanna see men acting as men; pros acting as pros. That was the kind of play that could kill a team. That's the kind of play that could leave a team deflated but it didn't do that to the Steelers because they were focused on one thing and one thing only, beating the Colts. When Pete Morelli announced he was ruling an incomplete pass and TV caught Polamalu putting on his helmet and running back onto the field, I got a warm feeling for the genuineness of the effort and dedication that was being put into that game; nothing cheap, nothing tawdry, just great football. I felt fortunate to be able to witness something that pure.

Calvin from Moore, OK:
I know the NFL has the AFC and NFC nowadays, but before the merger did the leagues have different divisions and, if so, what were they called?

Vic: In 1969, the year before the merger, the NFL was divided into Eastern and Western conferences. The Eastern Conference was divided into the Capital and Century divisions and the Western Conference was divided into the Coastal and Central divisions. The AFL was divided into Eastern and Western divisions.

Kevin from Montreal, Canada:
I just wanted your comment on Manning calling the punt unit off the field at the end of the third quarter, especially after hearing you on "Jaguars This Week" a while ago suggesting that players play and coaches coach.

Vic: Tony Dungy said after the game that it was communicated to Peyton Manning's helmet earpiece "we're going for it." Dungy said an over-eager punt team started onto the field and when Manning heard the "we're going for it" order he began waiving the punt team off. I have no doubt that's what happened. Manning is not a mutineer.

J.D. from St. Augustine, FL:
Does Edgerrin James still have a lot left in the tank? Is he the kind of touchdown-maker who can take a good team to the elite level?

Vic: Yeah, I think he does have a lot left in the tank. He rushed for over 1,500 yards this season and he looks to me like he's as good as ever. I think he would be an interesting guy in free agency, especially if there's no CBA extension. If there's no CBA extension, you're going to see teams go into major austerity campaigns. Very few teams will be able to spend money and that could make players such as James real bargains. You might see players such as James and Shaun Alexander trying to sign one-year deals, hoping the CBA will get extended before the following season begins, which would then allow them to come free and get the big bucks they deserve. I'd love to have a player such as James on a one-year deal. He'd be affordable and motivated. What more could you want?

James from Jacksonville:
You alluded a couple of times that the Colts could be done, depending on what happens with the CBA. What do you mean and should a new CBA agreement get signed can the Colts really still afford all of their stars?

Vic: If the CBA is not extended, two things will occur that will seriously damage teams with salary cap problems: 1.) There will be no June 1 rule in 2006 because '07 will be an uncapped year. 2.) Teams will not be able to push bonus money out beyond '09. If owners and players agree to a CBA extension before March, the Colts will absolutely be able keep their team together. They'll begin restructuring contracts and pushing money into 2010 and beyond. In my opinion, they'll only be worsening their problem but that's what they'll do because they're intent on chasing a Super Bowl title while Peyton Manning is still in his prime. If there's no extension, however, we'll begin to see the first effects of the Colts' cap problems.

Tamie from Tallahassee, FL:
This whole season I've read "Ask Vic" daily and I have to laugh at the amount of responses you get about respect. In moments of frustration I, too, have questioned just where is the respect for the Seahawks? Even now, with a postseason victory in hand, I see questions about whether the Seahawks are for real. So my question to you is how do you rate the Seahawks? Do they finally get your stamp for respect?

Vic: Not yet. My hesitation is the result of the Seahawks' schedule this season. They played, by far, the easiest schedule in the league; .430 strength of schedule. That .430 would've been a whole lot lower were it not for a tank-job win over the 14-win Colts. I'm sorry, but to get my full respect the Seahawks will have to win the Super Bowl. Blame it on the schedule.

Eric from Columbus, IN:
What defense did the Steelers use that caused the Colts so much trouble?

Vic: When you're preparing to play against Peyton Manning, you have to make a major decision: Rush or cover? The Steelers chose rush and they have a playbook of blitz schemes that is very, very thick. That's a gutsy decision because you weaken yourself in coverage and if your blitz doesn't get home, he's gonna burn you. They got home.

Mike from Albany, NY:
I would like to point out that victories by Pittsburgh and Carolina would move the Jags up two spots in the draft. I hope all Jags fans root accordingly.

Vic: That's a very astute observation. One place higher or lower can make all the difference. You're right on.

Kevin from Green Bay, WI:
If you look at the replay, the left guard for the Steelers flinched very, very slightly. So, in hindsight, the Steelers should have been flagged for a false start, not the Colts for offsides.

Vic: You're wrong. Referee Pete Morelli, in his announcement to the crowd, said: "The offense did not move." At that point, there could only be one call. Your interpretation isn't what counts. Morelli's interpretation is the only one that does and he said "the offense did not move." With that statement, he could make only one call and he chose to make no call.

Kevin from Hillsborough, NJ:
I know you're in love with running the ball and strongly believe the team that runs it best will win in the playoffs, but don't you think the Jags should try throwing it early to loosen up the defense, then come back to the running game once they get a lead?

Vic: Yeah, that's fine; I'm all for it. You are, however, missing the point on the impact of a strong running game. The Colts committed both safeties to the line of scrimmage to stop the run, which allowed the Steelers to throw it right down the field. So, in that case, the Steelers' reputation for a strong running game did its job without the Steelers even having to run the ball. That's why you need a strong running game. You have to make your opponents play run. When you do that, you can throw to score, and that's what's meant by the expression, "You throw to score, you run to win." It's the run that makes it all work.

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