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Steelers kicker Suisham keeps things simple

Chaz Palla | Tribune Review
Steelers place kicker Shaun Suisham attempts a fieldgoal at Heinz Field Oct. 2012.

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93.3 – Field-goal accuracy percentage in 2010 (14 of 15), which tied team record

8/10 – Makes/misses in 2010 home games

10/15 – Makes/misses in 2011 home games

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Thursday, Nov. 8, 2012, 10:50 p.m.
 

Shaun Suisham isn't one of those eccentric placekickers who possess perplexing rituals or habitual quirks before every swipe of the football.

He keeps it simple. He believes preparation is the necessary prerequisite for success.

In a season in which late-game field goals have determined the outcome of many games, Suisham appears prepared as the Steelers begin to jockey for playoff position when they host the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday night at Heinz Field.

A year ago, Suisham's 21- and 49-yard field goals were the difference as the Steelers beat the Chiefs, 13-9, at Arrowhead Stadium.

“I try not to complicate things,” Suisham said. “I have my body and mind prepared to feel good on game days and focus on putting a good foot on the ball.

“I trust my technique. I put myself in position to succeed when I'm on the field. I can hold my head high whether I make the kick or miss the kick — and move on to the next week.”

Suisham is serious about the job he performs for the Steelers. He takes nothing for granted — including the supposedly automatic point-after-touchdown he's made 94 times in a row, 118 short of Gary Anderson's team record.

Suisham admits he is somewhat meticulous and guarded, in part because the one time he dropped his hands, the Washington Redskins landed a crushing blow that left him reeling in self-doubt nearly three years ago.

The Redskins released him even though he was the most accurate kicker in team history. It hardly seemed logical, but Suisham lost his job after a stretch of near perfection was overshadowed by three unfortunate misses in losses to New Orleans and Dallas.

Suisham made stops in three cities — St. Louis, Cleveland and Dallas — before landing in Pittsburgh midway through the 2010 season. He rediscovered his stroke and confidence in making 17 of 20 field goals as the Steelers advanced to Super Bowl XLV.

Suisham resisted the temptation to declare some sense of vindication. Instead, he accepted his ouster in Washington as a serendipitous twist of fate.

So far, Suisham is having perhaps the best season of his eight-year career. The Canadian has missed once in 18 attempts: a 54-yarder that fell short in a 26-23 loss in Tennessee.

“When I make a field goal, I expect to make it,” Suisham said. “Obviously, it hurts my feelings when I miss a kick. I shouldn't have missed that kick in Tennessee.

“It's hard for me to remember good games. But I can always remember a miss.”

Suisham was on target the week before against Philadelphia. He split the uprights with a 34-yarder to propel the Steelers to a 16-14 victory over the Eagles.

Predictably, he tried to shy away from the spotlight. He reluctantly answered obligatory questions concerning his winning field goal.

“They don't need to pay attention to me,” Suisham said. “I'm just happy to come to work. It's my job. I don't need a pat on the back, and I'm not looking for one.”

However, long snapper Greg Warren figures Suisham isn't likely to escape the spotlight when winter ushers in the cold, swirling wind that challenges every kicker at Heinz Field.

“I think people are paying attention because no kick is a given, especially when the elements change in the second half of the season,” Warren said. “But we have the utmost confidence in Shaun because he deals with it every year.”

Ralph N. Paulk is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at rpaulk@tribweb.com or 412-320-7923.

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