Wallace always a play away
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - On Sunday, Steelers receiver Mike Wallace showed fantasy owners why they can never bench him.

He's always one play away from erasing the frustration, even in Pittsburgh's dink-and-dunk offense.

After a strong start to the season, Wallace has been up and down the last five games due to some dropped passes. He's struggled to find a consistent role in offensive coordinator Tood Haley's short passing attack, averaging just 13.5 yards per catch this season.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Wallace said he had run just eight "go" routes all season, and three of those were as decoys.

That's a stark contrast to last season under OC Bruce Arians, when Wallace said he went deep almost five times a game.

But Wallace proved why his upside remains high Sunday with a game-changing 51- yard touchdown catch against the Giants.

The play wasn't a fly or a deep post or even a sure first down. It was a simple slant that Wallace caught three yards off the line of scrimmage and took horizontally across the field before cutting it down the left sideline. At least three Giants defenders appeared to have an angle on Wallace, including one who was about eight yards down field ahead of Wallace, but the Steelers receiver burned them all. It was breathtaking.

According to the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, Wallace said Monday that he's accepting his role in the short passing game.

"I'm kind of understanding my role in the offense, it's not just to go deep any more, (it's) kind of short, and it's just learning to accept that," Wallace said. "My history and being the kind of player I am, I like deep plays. But I've got to continue staying in the game and, like I said, catch a short one and make it long. That's going to be my focus for the rest of the year."

Running more short routes and getting more intermediate targets going forward should help to stabilize his fantasy value instead of making him an all-or- nothing player, provided he can hang onto the football.

Wallace dropped three passes in Week 5 against the Eagles and four in Week 7 against the Bengals, and he couldn't get his hands on a few balls in Week 9 prior to his explosive play.

Teammate Antonio Brown (ankle) is doubtful for Monday's game against the Kansas City Chiefs, so more targets should be directed Wallace's way. The Chiefs have given up 17 passing scores, tied for third most in the NFL, and seven pass plays of 40-plus yards, also third most.

Wallace should have plenty of chances this Monday night and for the rest of the season to "catch a short one and make it long" now that he's embraced his role.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Thomas J. Harrigan at tharrigan@sportsnetwork.com.

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