When the Pittsburgh Steelers quickly traded Santonio Holmes to the New York Jets in the off-season, there was much criticism of the move by pundits. The performance of second-year wide receiver Mike Wallace has quieted the critics.
Mike Wallace has quietly made a case for himself as being worthy of a Pro Bowl selection this season. While Wallace is a low-key individual, his stats speak loudly.
Wallace leads the NFL in yards-per-reception, averaging 23 yards per catch. He ranks second in receptions over 20 yards, behind only Denver’s Brandon Lloyd, and also ranks second in catches over 40 yards, tied with DeSean Jackson and behind only Lloyd.
Wallace already has eight TD catches this season, which ranks him at seventh in the NFL. Similarly, his yardage total of 759 places him at seventh in the league.
Wallace has proved to be more than only a deep-threat in 2010, and has been willing to go over the middle and catch the ball in traffic. His 52-yard pass-and-run TD against the Raiders in Week 11 showcased yet another element to his game, as he took a short pass across the middle and turned on the afterburners to race into the end zone.
Wallace seems to have benefited from watching and playing with a future Hall of Fame receiver in Hines Ward. Reportedly, his attitude and work ethic are exemplary, and Steeler fans sense a passing of the torch, as Wallace surpasses the productivity of his mentor.
What makes Wallace’s season even more remarkable is that he managed to rack up his impressive numbers in the absence of star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for the first month of the season.
In the six games since Roethlisberger’s return, Wallace has averaged 91.3 yards per game, which would rank third in the NFL. Projected over a full season, Wallace would have over 1,460 yards.
Wallace is threatening one of the Steelers’ single-season receiving records. He is on pace for 13 TD receptions, which would break the record of 12 held by teammate Hines Ward (2002), Louis Lipps (1985) and Buddy Dial (1961).
If Wallace maintains his high level of production with Roethlisberger, he has a chance at breaking the Yancy Thigpen’s single-season record of 1,398 yards.
It seems that the Steelers knew what they had in Wallace when they decided to trade away the former Super Bowl MVP. If Wallace continues to play the way he has since the return of his star quarterback, then it seems that a Pro Bowl spot could be waiting.