It's never easy returning to a place where you once experienced so many special memories. Usually in your mind, flashbacks to those moments are etched in and can't ever be erased. An old childhood home, a former school, a vacation travel spot. The list is endless.
Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes can relate.
Holmes' most recent trip back to Pittsburgh, a city he spent his first four NFL seasons in, didn't go as he'd envisioned. He had two catches, one for a touchdown, on the Jets' opening drive. After that, he had only one more reception.
"As a receiver and quarterback, there are some things you just talk about, you know?" Holmes said late this afternoon. "When you miscommunicate throughout the game, you find a way to correct it, and I think that's what we did today. We went out and practiced hard and corrected the little mistakes that we had Sunday."
While Holmes is without question the team's top WR option, it's been 27 games since he produced a 100-yard receiving game.
"I honestly don't think it reflects anything about me as a receiver," he said of the streak, "because my job is to do what I can do to help the team win ballgames. Whether I catch one pass for 13 yards, whether I catch nine for 1,000 yards, it really doesn't matter. It's about the performance that you put in from the first quarter to the fourth quarter and the grades that count out when you're in your receiver room, and Coach wants to talk to you about the little things that you didn't do, the techniques that you didn't use. It's those things that count. It's not about how many yards you put up each week."
Holmes said the chemistry between him and Sanchez is great, adding that from an individual standpoint he's been staying in the film room longer and has continued to try to be a positive example for the younger players on the team's roster.
"Attitude can mean many things," he said. "It doesn't necessarily mean a good or bad thing. It can mean in a way that our team really feeds off of the energy that a person brings to the practice field. That's what I try to bring to this team every day is great energy to the practice field because I think that these guys do feed off of the way I play, and the performance that I put on, because of my status of being the only veteran receiver here. These guys are depending on me to be the guy, and I've got to step up to the plate."
Sanchez said during his news conference today that he believes one of his favorite receiving targets will be ready to go against Miami on Sunday.
"He's working really hard. He's working hard in practice. We had good communication on the sideline," the quarterback said. "In any quarterback-receiver tandem, things don't work out all the time, things don't go 100 percent every time. We'd like them to and we work to make them to, but that's just not realistic.
"The best part about it has been the way we've both responded. I really commend him on his attitude and the work ethic he showed today in practice. He wanted to see some of those looks againl, he was talking about them immediately on Monday. It's easy for someone to shy away from something like that and not bring it up until I bring it up. He was right there on Monday — 'Hey, let's talk. Let's watch this. Look what I see. What did you see? Let's get on the same page.' That's the most encouraging thing.
Interestingly, the Jets' 2011 season ended in Miami in January with a 19-17 loss to the Dolphins. And under head coach Rex Ryan, the Green & White are only 2-4 against their division opponents. Regardless, Holmes said he and his teammates haven't thought back to anything from that disappointing final loss last year. They are focused on the present and realize that if they can earn a victory Sunday they would still be at least be tied for the lead in the AFC East standings.
"To be ahead in the division by having a victory over these guys," Holmes said, "would mean a great deal to us."