Mike Wallace is the best deep threat in the NFL. It’s really that simple. After leading the league in yards per catch as a rookie, he’s doing so again through six games in year No. 2, currently owning a four-yard-per-catch advantage over the second best player, San Diego’s Malcom Floyd.
That’s no small margin. The gap between Wallace and Floyd, for example, is larger than the gap between Floyd and the No. 8 receiver, Tennessee’s Kenny Britt.
On Sunday, during the Steelers 23-22 win in Miami, Wallace hauled in another big play, snagging a 53-yard touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger. Already this season Wallace has plays of 52, 46, 41, 50 and 53 yards. And three of those plays came with Dennis Dixon and Charlie Batch throwing to him. Dolphins cornerback Jason Allen was the latest to realize the unspeakable speed of the Steelers second-year receiver.
As you can see here at the top of the picture, Allen is giving Wallace plenty of cushion off the line — almost nine yards — obviously respecting the deep ball.
When Wallace finally gets to within five yards of Allen, the Dolphins defensive back finally recognizes he might be in some sort of trouble and starts to sprint down field, still five yards ahead of Wallace. It’s still too late and Wallace quickly blows past him.
At that point, Roethlisberger is getting ready to put the ball in the air and allow Wallace to run past his man and do what he does best: catch touchdowns.
During his recap of Sunday’s win, Dagger at Post Game Heroes made the following observation on Wallace and the Steelers passing game in general:
Mike Wallace seems to be a guarantee big-play TD each week. I love the fact that he’s finally getting his props from the national media. When are defenses going to learn? When is he going to get safety help over the top? Whenever that happens, Heath Miller and our slot WRs will need to take advantage.
It’s a great point, and I have to imagine that Ward and Miller will be able to take advantage. That is, after all, what they do. And speaking of safety help on Wallace, here’s where it was on this particular touchdown.
That’s just not going to cut it against this guy.
Coming into the season there was some concern as to how the Steelers passing game would work without Santonio Holmes. I don’t think Wallace is a better receiver than Holmes at this point (Holmes is better with the short and intermediate routes and after the catch, and also more elusive), but there’s no denying that Wallace gives the Steelers a dimension that not even Holmes can provide. Or any other receiver in the NFL.