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Why Ben Roethlisberger to Mike Wallace Is the NFL's Best Deep-Ball Combination

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 04:  Mike Wallace #17 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates his second quarter touchdown reception with Ben Roethlisberger #7 while playing the Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field on December 4, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh won the game 35-7. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Jamal CollierAnalyst IIIOctober 11, 2012

Ben Roethlisberger and Mike Wallace of the Pittsburgh Steelers might just be the scariest deep-ball quarterback-wide receiver tandem in the NFL.

In the first quarter of the Thursday night game with the Tennessee Titans, Wallace sprinted up the right side of the field, caught a deep bomb from Roethlisberger, crossed the plane and gave the Steelers a 10-3 lead.

He ran straight by the cornerback and sliced the gap between the corner and the strong safety, only getting knocked down by a push in the back that sent him tumbling into the end zone.

That was business as usual for the Steelers receiver.

Wallace’s undeniably blazing speed gives him a dimension that most defensive backs can’t match downfield without giving up a massive cushion.

The reason Roethlisberger and Wallace make for such a nightmarish combination has just as much to do with the quarterback as it does the wideout.

Roethlisberger gives Wallace the time to get downfield by extending plays on a routine basis. He has overcome the Steelers’ recent past of suspect pass protection.

Big Ben is so big that he can sometimes shake off defensive linemen, roll out and launch a prayer.

Wallace can come down with those cannon shots. He’s not just a track star.

The long score that took place in the first quarter of Thursday night’s game was an 82-yard hookup from Roethlisberger to Wallace after a seven-step drop.

The ball traveled about 54 yards in the air, dropped in a spot where the defense couldn’t even bat it down and hit Wallace in stride.

That connection gave Wallace his fourth touchdown of the young 2012 season (in five games).

His first was a three-yard score against the Denver Broncos in Week 1. The second was a 37-yard strike at home against the New York Jets in Week 2.

Both of those teams have strong defensive back corps.

Wallace also hauled in a 22-yard touchdown from Roethlisberger in Week 3, giving him his third touchdown in three weeks.

The average length of a Mike Wallace touchdown this season so far has been 36 yards.

Last season, he placed fifth in yards per catch among wide receivers with 70 or more receptions (behind Victor Cruz, Steve Smith, Larry Fitzgerald and Calvin Johnson).

This combination can give Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson (or whoever your favorite deep-ball connection may be) a real run for their money.


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