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Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Suisham getting his kicks in Pittsburgh

By Scott Brown

PITTSBURGH -- Inscrutable is a good way to describe Shaun Suisham -- whether he is talking about what clicked after he settled down in Pittsburgh or, apparently, what is going through his mind before a game-winning field-goal attempt.

“Everyone has butterflies, but it seems like he doesn’t,” veteran defensive end Brett Keisel said of the mood on the Steelers’ sidelines before Suisham kicked a 42-yard field goal to beat the Ravens. “Sometimes I’ll just watch the crowd (during a kick), but I watched this one and it was dead center.”

Suisham has hit the opportunity the Steelers gave him three years ago as flush as he did the field goal that ended the Ravens’ three-game regular-season winning streak at Heinz Field.

Shaun Suisham
Shaun Suisham has made all 14 of his field-goal attempts this season for the Steelers.
He is one of a handful of kickers who has made every field-goal attempt this season. And only the Jets’ Nick Folk (16) has more attempts than Suisham (14).

Suisham has continued to build on last season when he missed just three field goals in 31 tries with two of those coming from beyond 50 yards.

Given how seemingly automatic Suisham has become, it is easy to forget that he needed the Steelers as much as they needed him when they signed the veteran kicker in November of 2010.

Suisham had already been released by six NFL teams during his career, including the Steelers in 2005. And he had been out of the league for three months when the Steelers signed him to replace the struggling Jeff Reed.

Suisham has since stabilized an area that had become a problem for the Steelers while also putting an end to his itinerant NFL career. Yet, ask the 31-year-old Canadian about the transformation from oft-cut kicker to a player whom coach Mike Tomlin trusts as much as anyone on the Steelers’ roster, and Suisham doesn’t exactly provide any eureka moments.

“I have a process, one way to prepare that I believe in, and I don’t deviate from it regardless of the outcome of any game,” Suisham said. “I think as you age you should become a lot better mentally, and if you can continue to take care of your body and marry the two together I feel like I can do this a long time.”

Suisham is a self-taught kicker -- he said he has never had a kicking coach -- and he describes himself as a “minimalist.”

That sensibility has helped ease the mental strain that comes with kicking when a game -- or the Steelers’ season, as was the case Sunday -- is on the line.

“I don’t overthink or overanalyze anything,” Suisham said.

There is nothing to suggest that Suisham won’t be kicking in Pittsburgh for a long time. The Steelers signed him to a four-year deal in 2011, and they are likely to ink him to another long-term deal when the time comes.

Suisham, for his part, is in no hurry to leave Pittsburgh. He and his wife and two daughters are living here full-time this year for the first time, and Suisham said he has fallen in love with the city.

The well-traveled kicker has finally put down some roots and, as Tomlin might say, there is nothing mystical about why.

Suisham’s field-goal percentage with the Steelers (86.8) is the best in team history.

“That’s really invaluable to us when you have a kicker that’s been as reliable as he’s been, especially as an offense when we’ve been struggling to put the ball in the end zone," tight end Heath Miller said. "I think he would agree he’d rather be kicking extra points. We’d like to see him do that more often.”