Steelers' Reed Doesn't Need Redemption

Steelers Fever Exclusive Editorial

Saturday, September 26, 2009
By Jennifer A. Morrell
Steelers Fever Columnist


The Steelers' 14-17 loss to the Chicago Bears in Week two was gut-wrenching to watch. It also was no picnic fielding text messages, voicemails and emails from my friends in Chicago afterward. And then, there was the drive to work the next morning, during which I had the pleasure of hearing the game dissected and analyzed for a full hour. Smug callers and all-knowing radio guys proceeded to chew up and spit out my beloved Steelers as I sipped my iced coffee in the stop-and-go Atlanta traffic.

Jeff ReedWith all of this salt being poured into the wound of our loss to the Bears, nothing bothered me as much as the recurring blame placed on Steelers kicker Jeff Reed. The last time I checked, football was a team sport. And yet, throughout the history of the NFL, individuals have shouldered the blame for their teams' losses. It also seems that two positions most often fall victim: the quarterback and the kicker.

It's the American way: When things go wrong, we must point a finger at someone. "Somebody's gotta pay" So it raises the question: Do kickers and QBs take too much blame for teams' losses? Consider these famous blame games from recent years:

Game Day (Super Bowl): Jan. 27, 1991 - Final Score: NY Giants - 20, Buffalo Bills - 19
The Fall Guy: Scott Norwood, Kicker - Norwood missed a 47-yard field goal in the final seconds of the game, which allowed the Football Giants to win the Super Bowl.

Game Day: Jan. 28, 1996 - Final Score: Dallas Cowboys - 27, Pittsburgh Steelers - 17
The Fall Guy: Neil O'Donnell, QB - O'Donnell, although he entered Super Bowl XXX as the NFL's career leader in fewest interceptions per pass attempt, threw two interceptions, both of which were converted into touchdowns by Dallas.

Game Day: Jan. 15, 2006 - Final Score: Pittsburgh Steelers - 21, Indianapolis Colts - 18
The Fall Guy: Mike Vanderjagt, Kicker - Vanderjagt missed a 46-yard field goal with 21 seconds left in the game.

Game Day: Jan. 6, 2007 - Final score: Seattle Seahawks - 21, Dallas Cowboys - 20
The Fall Guy: Tony Romo, QB - Romo bobbled the ball on a field-goal try with 1:19 left, which led to a scramble that ended two yards shy of the end zone and a yard short of a first down. This secured the win for Seattle.

I suppose the argument can be made that, as a quarterback or kicker, the player puts himself in the position to be the hero if he makes the play that puts the winning points on the board, so he should be willing to take responsibility for the losses as well. But when you recount any football game, play by play, dozens of opportunities arise to raise the score. Whether the potential of those opportunities is ever met is a gamble, no matter the position, no matter the player.

Anytime the Steelers lose, it's like a dagger to the heart for dedicated Black-and-Gold fans. But to blame Jeff Reed, as many have since Game 2, is simply unfair. Football is, after all, a team sport. You win together, and you lose - together.