Thomas, of course, caused many problems for the Steelers last season. He caught 4 passes for 204 yards in the playoff game at Denver, and his 80-yard catch and run for a touchdown in overtime ended the Steelers' season.
It was no movie. Ask Ike Taylor.
"Yeah, I had a bad game," said Taylor, the Steelers' cornerback who took stiff arms from Thomas for what seemed like 70 of the 80 yards on the season-ending touchdown.
"One thing about me that you reporters might not know," Taylor continued, "I can be honest. So, yeah, I can flat out say I had a bad game. I'm not going to sugarcoat anything. I'm not going to say I was hurt or anything like that. I feel I'm a standup guy, and to be a man you've got to evaluate yourself regardless of how bad or how good the situation is. I kind of think I do a good job with that. A lot of people throw rocks and hide their head. That's not me."
That's why Taylor came out to meet the media after Wednesday's practice. But only one member of the media came out to meet him and talk about Thomas and his 51.0 average per catch against Taylor – the second-highest average in any regular-season or post-season game in NFL history for someone with a minimum of 4 catches.
"He handled his business," Taylor said. "He did what he needed to do to send his team to the next round. I didn't do what I needed to do to send my team to the next round."
How bad has Taylor felt since then?
"It bugged me bad," he said. "But, you know, if you play long enough things like that happen."
It's not as if it was a fluke, or a Qadry Ismail moment.
Ismail was the previous player to gain over 200 yards receiving against the Steelers. But after he caught 6 passes for 258 yards, Steelers receiver Troy Edwards sneered, "What he done? A man fall down and he run with the ball."
Steelers cornerback Dewayne Washington did fall down a few times that day, and it led to Ismail's fluky production.
That wasn't the case with Thomas, who used his impressive size and strength to ward off Taylor with the season on the line.
"I wouldn't call that a fluke by any means," Dwyer said of what his former college teammate did against the Steelers. "I've seen him have a 200-yard receiving game. He had some big games while I was at (Georgia) Tech, so I knew what he could do. What he did – catching the ball, using the stiff arm – was stuff I used to see him do all the time.
"He's a freak athlete. Bebe was supposed to be the next Calvin (Johnson), and he was filling that void during our freshman year. You saw a lot of potential in him. He was a first-round draft pick. His career's going to go far. Now he's got a good quarterback over there with him who's going to help him out even more."
Of course, Peyton Manning has replaced Tim Tebow as Denver's quarterback, but then again the Steelers won't gear their defense to stop the run as they did last season when Taylor was isolated on Thomas throughout the game and the Steelers were burned in overtime on a poorly executed inverted cover-2 coverage scheme.
As for Taylor, redemption really isn't on his mind.
"Nah," he said. "Not with the road I took to get here, with guys writing that the most I was supposed to be was a special teams guy. One guy wrote that I was the worst pick in Steelers history. That's still hanging on my refrigerator. I look at that every day. So, really, I don't need any extra motivation. Just proving people wrong is good enough for me.
"But this game is not about redemption. It's all about the camaraderie between the veterans and the young guys on this team, the expectations that the veterans have for the young guys, and the expectations the coaches have for the veterans. It all goes hand in hand and hopefully creates success.
"That's what it's all about: success, and that's what I'm focused on coming into this season."