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Reed tortured by missed kicks

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Thursday, Sept. 24, 2009

Jeff Reed didn't think much of it at first.

But after it happened a couple of times and a couple more times after that, he sensed something was a little different.

The Steelers' kicker usually doesn't have much dialogue with coaching assistants other than perhaps special team coaches Bob Ligashesky and Amos Jones.

However, after Reed missed two field goals within an eight-minute span of the fourth quarter Sunday in Chicago that ultimately led to a 17-14 loss, he noticed an inordinate amount of coaches offered encouraging words.

"I have had more coaches speak to me now than have ever spoken to me before," Reed said Wednesday. "It was like, 'It's not your fault' and 'Keep your head up' and 'Don't be too hard on yourself' and stuff like that."

Reed listened politely and was gracious, but he wasn't in the mood for somebody else making excuses for him.

"To be honest with you, most coaches don't know how to kick a football," said Reed, who has nine game-winning kicks in his career. "I don't need to hear it ... that's not going to help things because I am so hard on myself. I feel every time I get on the field, it is an opportunity for me to help this team win."

Game winners
A look at the nine game-winning field goals that Steelers kicker Jeff Reed has made in his eight-year career:
Date Distance Score Time remaining
9-10-2009 33 yards Steelers 13, Titans 10 10:28 in OT
11-16-2008 32 yards Steelers 11, Chargers 10 0:11
9-29-2008 46 yards Steelers 23, Ravens 20 8:55 in OT
11-26-2007 24 yards Steelers 3, Dolphins 0 0:17
10-31-2005 37 yards Steelers 20, Ravens 19 1:36
10-10-2005 40 yards Steelers 24, Chargers 22 0:06
1-15-2005* 33 yards Steelers 20, Jets 17 3:56 in OT
12-5-2004 37 yards Steelers 17, Jaguars 16 0:18
9-12-2004 42 yards Steelers 24, Raiders 21 0:07
* -- denotes playoff game

Against the Bears, Reed missed two field goals in a game for the first time in five years. That was Sept. 26, 2004, when Miami was dealing with rainy weather and the after effects of Hurricane Jeanne.

Even though Reed kicked a 51-yard field goal against the Dolphins that eventually won the game, then-coach Bill Cowher called out his kicker a few days later, saying that Reed had to play better.

Coach Mike Tomlin took another approach with Reed after the two misses against the Bears.

"He actually told me that he is glad that I am his guy," Reed said. "He said a few more things through texts after the game (and) on the plane like he knows what kind of person I am and that he knows I will respond to this."

History says Reed will respond favorably. Teammates also have his back.

"We have confidence in Jeff," wide receiver Hines Ward said.

When Reed missed those two kicks in Miami, he responded by making 25 of his final 28 of the year, including a game-winner against Jacksonville.

Reed also missed twice the previous year in back-to-back games against the Raiders and Jets. He finished the season hitting his last three kicks.

Reed's career
How Steelers kicker Jeff Reed has fared in his field-goal attempts since joining the team in 2002:
Distance 1-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50+
2009 0-0 0-0 2-3 0-1 0-0
Career 3-3 55-60 60-67 40-59 6-11
Source: Steelers media guide

"He is going to be fine," said Daniel Sepulveda, Reed's holder. "He is right back as the Jeff we all know. We were all shocked because, as long as I have been here, he has (almost) never missed."

Reed was 23 of 25 in Sepulveda's rookie year two years ago. Sepulveda missed last season with a knee injury.

"We expect Jeff to make that," Ward said. "He had a bad day at the office. What person on this Earth never had a bad day at the office?"

Reed doesn't think one bad day will ultimately affect his financial status. Reed is in the final year of his contract and will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.

"Flip side of that is if I get a huge contract in the offseason and in the same situation and you feel you don't deserve it," Reed said. "That's stupid. I can't control it. All I can control is my next kick in Cincinnati."

Reed wants to be paid as one of the top kickers in the league. He currently makes $1.43 million but is looking for double that. Chicago's Robbie Gould recently signed a 5-year, $15.5 million deal.

Ironically, Gould made the game-winning kick Sunday, Reed didn't and won't soon forget about it.

"You don't forget about them ever," Reed said. "I can have 10 great games in a row and still not forget those two kicks."

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