JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- The Pittsburgh Steelers are set at
kicker for their playoff push. The quarterback position is a much
more interesting story.
Question on the Steelers: Does a coach usually comment immediately after a win about leaving so many points on the field (they kicked and made six FGs)?
The Steelers see themselves as a dominant AFC team. Preseason, lots of people picked the Steelers to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. The Steelers also believe they're an elite team. That's why, even though they won, you're hearing talk about missed opportunities. For a team with Super Bowl aspirations, they're not satisfied with their performance.
Question on the Jaguars: At 5-7, is it time for Tom Coughlin to start evaluating players for next year?
He's done that for the past couple of years. Coughlin has been trying to shake this team up for a while, and it hasn't worked. So this is a key time for Coughlin. Some decisions could be made that might change the direction of the franchise, and Coughlin might not be part of the long-range plan.
Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.
Kordell Stewart made a bid to get his job back for good Sunday,
and recently signed rookie Jeff Reed made all six field-goal
attempts to lift the Steelers to a 25-23 victory over the
"It's nice to have a very dependable kicker,'' Steelers coach
Bill Cowher said.
Especially in a game like this.
Reed's sixth field goal, a 50-yarder, gave Pittsburgh (7-4-1) a
25-17 lead with 4:30 left.
Mark Brunell and the Jaguars (5-7) answered with a 65-yard
touchdown drive to cut the deficit to two with 1:16 left. But the
Steelers' defense, otherwise tough all day, stopped Jacksonville on
the 2-point try when Dewayne Washington broke up the pass Brunell
threw into quadruple coverage trying to hit Jimmy Smith.
The Steelers, 6-1-1 in their last eight games, expanded their
lead to 1½ games over Baltimore and Cleveland in the AFC North.
Stewart, who regained the starting job after Tommy Maddox's
scary injury two weeks ago, threw for 202 yards and ran for 84 more
and the team's lone touchdown.
"We were fully aware of Kordell Stewart and what he can do,''
Jaguars defensive end Marco Coleman said. "He's a humble player
right now. He's fighting for a starting position, so you know he's
going to come out and play with heart and guts.''
Next decision for Cowher is who starts the next game against
"I'm not going to worry about that right now,'' Cowher said.
Maddox, who entered the game only as Reed's holder, said
"you're asking the wrong person,'' when asked if he thought he
would get his job back.
Stewart also didn't want to get involved in guessing games.
"I have no clue,'' he said. "I'm not in Bill's head.''
The kicking situation is much more concrete.
Reed, a rookie from North Carolina, was signed two weeks ago
when Todd Peterson was placed on injured reserve with cracked ribs.
In his pro debut last week, he went 2-for-3 on field goals, but
missed an extra point that almost proved critical in a 29-21
victory over Cincinnati. The Bengals were driving at the end with a
chance to tie.
Tere were no such misses this time. Reed hit from 25, 29, 30,
46, 33 and then made the 50-yarder to cap it. The sixth kick tied
the 14-year-old franchise record set by Gary Anderson.
As a symbol of their starstruck season, Reed was one of five
kickers Jaguars coach Tom Coughlin worked out earlier this year
when he was searching for answers to his perplexing kicking
Coughlin said Reed had a strong leg, but was too inconsistent
for his liking.
"t's a business,'' Reed said. "They send you home after the
tryout, you go home and you work it out. You just don't quit.''
The Jaguars lost their second straight after a two-game winning
streak, and their brief stay in the playoff race is all but over.
Coughlin said he was proud of the way his team competed, even
though the Jaguars got thoroughly pushed around. Pittsburgh gained
403 yards and held the ball for nearly 39 minutes.
Stewart was the main problem. The Jaguars didn't have anyone
shadowing him, the way many teams commonly play mobile
quarterbacks, and Stewart made them pay.
"I would be in coverage and I'd turn around, and there he would
be, running down the field at us,'' Jacksonville cornerback Jason Craft said.
Playing the second half with a broken nose, Jerome Bettis ran
for 86 yards to reach 11,459 for his career and pass John Riggins
for 10th on the NFL career rushing list.
Pittsburgh's defense, ranked 28th against the pass, held Brunell
to only 146 yards passing, most of it in the fourth quarter.
Trailing 22-10, Brunell took advantage of a busted coverage and
hit Kyle Brady for a 43-yard touchdown. But Stewart drove the
Steelers 43 yards on the next drive to set up Reed's 50-yard
Cowher never doubted sending Reed out there.
"As long as we were inside the 35, that was what I was looking
at,'' Cowher said.
Fred Taylor ran for 80 yards to put him over the
1,000-yard mark for the third time in his career. ... Coleman had
two sacks, including one on Antwaan Randle El on an attempted trick
play. ... Pittsburgh improved to 2-6 lifetime in Jacksonville. ...
Kendrell Bell had two of Pittsburgh's three sacks. ...
Jacksonville's new kicker, Richie Cunningham, made his only
attempt, a 23-yarder.
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