The news that wide receiver Santonio Holmes had practically been given away to the Jets in a trade stunned Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Holmes and Big Ben are, of course, forever linked by the winning touchdown pass (pictured) to beat the Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII.
Recalling his immediate reaction to the trade today, Roethlisberger said, "Just kind of amazement, wonderment. What was going on? What happened? Just a lot of questions."
The Steelers are fully aware of how many big plays Holmes has made for the Jets this season, including his spectacular 7-yard TD catch in their playoff win over New England in which he laid out fully extended to make a diving end zone grab. "Unbelievable," Roehtlisberger said. "I mean, that's what he does. He makes plays."
Asked if he felt his personal troubles last summer when he was accused of rape but never charged with a crime might have contributed to the decision to get rid of Holmes, who served a four-game suspension for substance abuse, because the Steelers wanted to cleanse their image, Roethlisberger didn't want to go there. " That's probably a question for the front office," he said.
Holmes visited Heinz Field already this season for the Jets' 22-17 win on Dec. 19, but now, he's returning in a much bigger spot in Sunday's AFC title game. Seeing him on the opposite sideline will be "weird," former teammate Hines Ward said.
"I know he wants to win this one more than anything," Ward said. "I texted him today. He made a hell of a catch in that game [at New England]. I'm so proud of him to go out there and do the things he's done. He wants to win as bad as we want to win. I know our secondary guys are getting up. It will be a competitive war."