The last time the Patriots battled the Steelers last season, they came away with a 39-26 victory, but watched Pittsburgh wide receiver Mike Wallace run rampant on their defense.
Wallace finished the night with 8 catches for 136 yards and two touchdowns in a losing effort, but he definitely proved that he’s a threat that New England will likely have to prepare to deal with as they continue getting ready for a return trip against Pittsburgh this weekend.
The worst part is, he could have been a Patriot.
Wallace, who was taken with the 84th overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, went one selection after former New England receiver Brandon Tate (Tate was taken 83rd). Tate obviously had some success as a kickoff returner but never really caught on as a receiver, and the new kickoff rules during this past offseason effectively sealed his fate and forced the team to cut him loose at the end of the preseason.
Tate’s now with the Bengals, and he’s been about as effective there as he was when he was a Patriot, having yet to register a catch this season.
Meanwhile Wallace is having another productive year and already has 36 catches for 730 yards (3rd in the NFL) and five touchdowns.
Patriots fans have to be a little bothered as they wonder what could have been.
For now he’s a member of the Steelers, and Belichick acknowledged earlier in the week that he’ll likely be another tough guy to defend against on Sunday.
“He’s a tough guy to match up on,” said Belichick on Monday. “He’s done a good job. Obviously he’s worked hard and he’s being well coached and he’s got a good quarterback and other good receivers to complement him. He’s part of their very productive offense.”
It’s just too bad that Wallace isn’t a part of this one.