Was K.C. an Epiphany for da Kid?

Mike Wallace took a bad night in Kansas City and turned it into a good day against Cincinnati. Mike Prisuta explains this potential turning point in Wallace's career.

In a weekly media briefing that was bumped up from its normal Wednesday spot to Tuesday given the short week the Steelers are dealing with, Ben Roethlisberger was asked what changed offensively from Kansas City to Cincinnati.

"I don't know," Roethlisberger said. "We scored in the red zone, obviously, which is huge. I don't know if there's any one thing you could look at, ‘This is why,' a big, glaring thing."

Actually, there was.

The wide receivers caught the damn ball.

Either out of political correctness or respect for his teammates Roethlisberger wasn't about to go there. But there remained no denying that Mike Wallace and to a lesser extent Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders were much better against the Bengals than they were against the Chiefs.

The lack of any pre-game shenanigans against Cincinnati, and that pre-game dust-up in Kansas City, had everything to do with that.

The origin of the pre-game confrontation at Arrowhead Stadium, as it was explained in the locker room at the South Side practice facility on Tuesday, resulted from a couple Steelers inadvertently warming up on the Chiefs' side of the field. It was pointed out by one of the Chiefs, specifically No. 23, defensive back Kendrick Lewis, that the Steelers shouldn't be doing that.

Profanities were exchanged and things quickly degenerated from there. Although order was quickly restored Wallace never did reel himself back in from wherever it was he ended up, which clearly wasn't a place where he was able to concentrate on the task at hand.

The loss of focus and the lack of playmaking on Wallace's part against the Chiefs became apparent enough that even he noticed. His response was to seek out veteran leadership in an effort to rediscover his game.

Wallace was advised, one player said on Tuesday, to stay patient, to stay focused, and most of all to refuse to succumb to senseless distractions such as pre-game or in-game verbal exchanges, to trash talk. That had been an issue at times during Wallace's still-meteoric rise up the ranks among NFL receivers. In retrospect, it was a big issue in Kansas City.

The Cincinnati game, to an extent, turned into the debut of the new Mike Wallace.

Veterans saw that two-touchdown performance against the Bengals coming, mostly because of how Wallace responded in practice after the Kansas City debacle. Suddenly, he was a different player, one source said, a guy who was working harder, focusing more intently and running faster than ever, even on routes when he wasn't destined to get the ball.

Don't look now, but Wallace17_daKid may have turned a significant corner toward becoming a true professional.

"You have to be patient," Wallace insisted on Tuesday regarding his never-ending quest for big plays. "Even though I would like it to be in the first quarter, you have to be patient sometimes."

If he truly meant it, and if he can begin to consistently keep his eye on the ball a little more often, even more games such as last Sunday's will be well within Wallace's grasp more often.

And if that happens, all of the pre-game idiocy in Kansas City will come to be remembered fondly as a turning point for the Steelers, as the night Mike Wallace dropped the ball but truly caught on.


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