Monday, September 21, 2009

Maybe the third time would've been a charm

[In perhaps his most effective moment of the game, Steelers' kicker Jeff Reed shoves Bears' wide receiver Johnny Knox out of bounds on a kickoff return. Photo from ESPN.com]


I feel like my boyfriend just punted my cat, dumped me, and broke my heart... and that boyfriend is Steelers' kicker, Jeff Reed... and he honest to God may as well have been using my cat in place of a football because it'd have been just as accurate a kick...

The Pittsburgh Steelers fell to the Chicago Bears yesterday 17-14, as the result of two missed field goal attempts by #3, Reed, that he sent soaring wide-left.

The Steelers, still sans Troy Polamalu out on a knee injury, needed to be on top of their game against the Bears with their shiny new quarterback, Jay Cutler, who played a great game, going 28 completions for 37 attempts and 236 yards, and looking every bit the star Chicago hoped he would be when they acquired him from the Denver Broncos this year.

Ben Roethlisberger also looked strong, going 23 for 35 resulting in 221 yards. The consummate passer and not at all known or praised for his running ability (basically the opposite of former Steelers' QB Kordell Stewart who effectively ran the ball nearly as often as he threw it), he tricked the unsuspecting Bears' defensive line with a QB keep play that resulted in a touchdown they neither saw coming, nor covered.

'Fast' Willie Parker had better games and gave a lackluster performance, averaging only 3.4 yards per carry, while Rashard Mendenhall had 3 impressive carries totaling 39 yards. The Steelers' rushing game produced almost double the yards of the Bears' Matt Forte and Adrian Peterson.

Even the Steelers' passing game out-ranked the Bears' 140 yards to 111.

Then, the weak link became apparent. Reed missed a kick from the Chicago 20-yard line with 11:42 remaining. Everyone misses sometimes.

He missed another with 3:23 remaining in the then-tied 14-14 game. Now this was getting ridiculous.

The mistake turned out to be one the Steelers could not afford to make against Cutler, who lead the ensuing eight play drive, completing all four of his passes.

The Steelers' fate was sealed when Bears' kicker Robbie Gould succeeded where Reed had failed, successfully making a 44-yard field goal with only 11 seconds left in the game. The resulting kickoff and Steelers' last hope, was caught and then fumbled by Stefan Logan... we could've done without that. Pittsburgh fans would have been upset about it, if not already beside ourselves at the Reed situation, which left us with little indignation to direct toward Logan.

The whole debacle is summarized best on the Steelers' official website; www.Steelers.com, "Make the kick and you're a hero, but miss it and you're the goat." Reed effectively lost the game two times Sunday.

I've always been, and continue to be a Reed fan. Two years ago at the Steelers / Redskins preseason game, I sat in the front row, 30-yard line (Steelers sideline, of course - as with every one of their games i've ever attended), cheering (definition used loosely... more like badgering) our players with various exclamations including but not limited to "Go Steelers!" "I love you!" and "I want to have your babies!", and Reed came up to me after half-time and personally handed me a football he had signed "Jeff Reed #3 =) ".

Suffice to say, nothing could turn me into a Reed-hater or a fair weather fan. However, missing TWO field goals in one game when the game is close and you play for the best team in the NFL is unacceptable and fully warrants the criticism he is now receiving. With Reed's high standards for himself, I'm sure he'd agree.

Reed is an exceptionally talented kicker who has made 82.7% (162 of 196) of his field goal attempts entering the '09 season, including completing the last 14 of his postseason field goals. He has kicked career-best 51 yarders three times, and with stats like that, it remains a mystery as to why he was unable to complete either of the 38 and 41 yard attempts, respectively, in the Bears game.

Reed even described the field goals as "makeable" (Steelers.com), and Steelers fans, we describe missing two of those as inexcusable. We can only hope this was a fluke and that our beloved and reliable Reed was just having an off-day. A Super Bowl caliber team absolutely must be able to depend on their kicker, so Reed needs to brush his shoulders off and step up.



[Side Note: No animals were punted or in any way harmed in the writing of this post, and I do not condone violence toward animals]

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