The kicking game was in the spotlight at Heinz Field yesterday, in a division game with playoff implications. Things didn't work out as planned for Steelers kicker Shaun Suisham on his first field goal attempt which came midway through the second quarter. A low snap led to a bobbled hold which led to a wide left 24 yard kick.
"It stabilized, but it wasn't going to go in anyway."
Each kicker subsequently made a mid-range attempt - Bengals kicker Josh Brown hit a 41 yarder late in the second quarter and Suisham connected from 40 yard in the third. Then with the game tied 10-10, several big attempts arose late in the fourth quarter. With 3:22 remaining, Josh Brown slipped and came up short on a 56 yard attempt.
"My drive step came out from underneath me, so I wasn’t really able to get under the ball. There wasn’t a lot of height and obviously it landed in the end zone. From 56 yards, I feel very confident."
On the next possession, Shaun Suisham came up short on a 53 yarder with 1:51 remaining:
"I knew it was going to be close. Everything I do is to prepare to be perfect. And when it doesn’t happen, it’s a tough one to take, especially this late in the year when it could have been the difference in the game and our season."
Then after a flurry of activity involving some punting, some intercepting, and some throwing, Cincinnati set up Josh Brown with a 43 yard attempt with four seconds remaining. The kick was good and the Bengals won 13-10, securing a playoff spot and eliminating Pittsburgh from playoff contention.
"I aimed it right inside the right upright and the wind took it right down the middle — just like we planned. After that it was pure joy....
I’ve got to say, it’s unbelievable to be the last guy standing on the field, to be the one who puts the final couple of points on the board and the nail in the other team’s coffin. It’s every kid’s dream to do something like that, whether it’s throwing a pass, making a big tackle or kicking a field goal. And to be able to do it for this team is really special. There is a lot of chemistry here. There are a lot of good guys. That’s something you don’t know about until you’re in it. Before the end of my first day with them, they were cheering me in practice. That doesn’t happen everywhere you go, but these guys got into it. They called me by my first name, not ‘New Guy’ or ‘Hey, you.’...
[At the end of yesterday's game] guys were saying ‘Thank you, thank you’. “They said ‘Merry Christmas.’… and ‘You’re solid’… and ‘Way to go vet, way to go'....
To get them into the playoffs — whether I’m part of it or not — is a good feeling. I know if Mike [Nugent] feels good this week and comes back I might have to sit down. What can I do? I took the opportunity I was given and made the most of it. That was the point. If other people see value in me, it was a successful run."
Winning against Pittsburgh also tied into some personal history for Brown:
"Quite honestly, it’s very satisfying. I’ve had a bad run versus Pittsburgh. I had a bad game here last year with the Rams. We lost big (27-0) and I missed from 52 and 33 yards. It was just one of the nightmare kind of games, so I really needed to exorcise some demons today...
[Super Bowl XL in which Seattle lost to Pittsburgh] was possibly my only chance to win a Super Bowl. So I guess I’ve carried a small chip on my shoulder for what, five or six years? I mean that’s why we play the game — to win the Super Bowl. So today — helping knock them out of the playoffs and kind of make them grit their teeth — well that was OK with me."