So, could it – the electric 67-yard catch-and-run touchdown to beat the Cincinnati Bengals in overtime – be a springboard to a breakout season?
"You hope," said offensive coordinator Bruce Arians. "You hope that it makes him hungry and not relaxed. It's my job to make sure he's not relaxed."
And? Has Holmes been hungry or relaxed?
"He's hungry," Arians said. "He's working good. Just get those little nagging injuries -- that hamstring -- healed and he'll be alright."
Holmes has played through the aches and he's feeling good. In fact, he's thinking he could catch 100 passes this season.
It appears he'll get the chance. Through two minicamps and an O.T.A., Holmes has been the first-team split end opposite flanker Hines Ward. Holmes, in fact, is the only end-of-season replacement who's retained his first-team status this spring. Willie Colon hasn't. Neither has Bryant McFadden or Anthony Smith; just Holmes.
"The confidence level is way higher than it was last year," Holmes said. "The comfort level at the same time is high because I know what I'm doing and the coach is giving me more opportunities now to make more plays on the field."
What a difference a year makes. Last year, Holmes was back in Columbus, Ohio instead of spring workouts because his class hadn't taken final exams. He then found himself in legal difficulties that are now behind him.
He's a new man. Arians was asked to quantify that difference.
"He already knows French and we're working on Spanish," Arians said. "Light years. Any rookie that comes in this time of year, his head's swimming with terminology. And that part's not the problem anymore, (it's now) just getting his techniques and finding more ways to be explosive."
Can he be the explosive deep threat the Steelers need?
"No question," Arians said. "The last four games he showed it last year."
Holmes started the last four games last season and caught 16 passes for 320 yards (20.0 avg.) and a touchdown. It started with an 81-yard game against Cleveland. Against Carolina, he returned a punt 65 yards for a touchdown. Against Baltimore, "he beat one of the best corners, (Chris) McAllister, deep twice," Arians said. And against Cincinnati there was that walk-off slant-and-go and the career-high 124 receiving yards.
"He can run deep and catch it; he can catch the short one and go deep with it," Arians said. "So, yeah, he's exactly what we were hoping for."
That last play "probably put a target on my back," Holmes said. "Well, not even on my back, but right in the middle of my chest because a lot of guys are going to see that, (and say) okay, this is an explosive guy that's ready to play every time he steps on the field, no matter what the situation is."
It'll help if Holmes improves his chemistry with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. At the end of last season, Roethlisberger admitted that he needed to spend more time with the wide receivers. Holmes said he's living up to the promise.
"We spend a lot more time together running individual routes during practice and just getting on the same page," Holmes said. "He's been going with myself, Hines, Ced (Wilson) and Nate (Washington), working with the first four guys a lot more."
And what of the new offense? How will Holmes be affected?
"Not at all," he said. "The only thing really different is probably our terminology. We still have the same guys around so we're still able to do the same things we did last year."
And what about next year? What are Holmes's goals?
"My goal is to double the catches," he said. "To increase everything at least double what I did last year."
That would come to precisely 98 catches for 1,648 yards and four touchdowns.
And two walk-off touchdowns.