Believe it or not, there is at least one person who was not surprised by the play Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Santonio Holmes made to win Super Bowl XLIII.
Wide receivers coach Randy Fichtner saw it coming for weeks, if not years.
Along with the Steelers management and fan base, the former Meadville Area Senior High School football standout had high expectations for the No. 25 overall pick in the 2006 NFL draft.
The difference is that Fichtner’s anticipation of something big happening never dwindled through two seasons of mediocrity.
“That’s one play that he made at the right time, but he was capable of doing that since I’ve been with him,” said Fichtner of the catch that locked up an MVP performance. “So it did not surprise me.”
Fichtner’s whole outlook on Holmes began to change after he made a game-winning catch with 43 seconds left in the AFC North-clinching 13-9 win over Baltimore in Week 15.
Holmes fumbled twice earlier in that game, once on a punt return. Both led to points.
“Something clicked in him. A light bulb went off, and he realized, ‘I’m ready to do this. I am ready to buy into what you’re talking about with practice,’” said Fichtner of Holmes.
The final series of the Super Bowl could not have come at a better time in the game, but also in Holmes’ career, according to Fichtner.
“The series is exactly what a young man can use to equip himself to move on to the next step,” Fichtner said. “The next step that the Steelers and all his teammates expected when they drafted him, and that is a player that can be counted on to make plays when they call his name.
“I think everyone is going to start to see an exciting Santonio Holmes growing up.”
As for Fichtner, winning another Super Bowl is the only immediate goal on the Meadville native’s mind.
“I’d like to get another one” he said. “That would be great.
“My job is just isolated to a small cog in the wheel of this big machine of the Steelers that’s rolling. I’ve got every day to make sure that I’m doing something to make sure that little spoke that I’m in charge of is rolling in the right direction for us to do well. I take pride in that, and I want it to be a positive all the time.”
The way things have been going, there’s no reason to believe Fichtner can’t get a promotion. But he’s not ready to say that’s his aim this very moment.
“I don’t know where that will ever lead,” he said. “I’ve never been one to come out and have outward goals of, ‘Gosh, I want to be a coordinator in the National Football League,’ or ‘I want to be a head coach in college or professional football.’
“I’ve really just tried to do my job where I’m at, accept what I’m doing, and make everyone who I come in contact with better. If that happens, good things will usually happen.”
T.J. Turrisi can be reached at 724-6370, ext. 276 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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