After failing to make a critical tackle on Cincinnati return man Bernard Scott’s 96-yard touchdown run, Jeff Reed took a lot of criticism from Steelers fans. Reed apparently disagrees with the criticism, and had this to say in his own defense.
“I just look at those people like they don’t know what they’re talking about. I’m coached to do certain things, and the No. 1 reason I’m here is to kick kickoffs the best I can and make field goals. When it comes to making a tackle, people like [punter] Dan [Sepulveda] kind of ruin it for me because he’s so athletic.”
Ummm, is it just me, or does that statement sound completely ludicrous. Yes Jeff, you are here to kick field goals, but you also have to make a potential game-winning tackle when the opportunity presents itself.
Do you remember that play a few years ago when Jerome Bettis fumbled the ball near the goal line and the opposing player was sprinting for a potential touchdown that would have ended the Steelers’ season? Ben Roethlisberger was the last line of defense. So guess what he did? He made the tackle. It was an ugly tackle for sure, but he made the tackle. He didn’t say, “I’m paid to pass the ball, not tackle people”. He didn’t make excuses about how James Farrior and Troy Polamalu are better at tackling than he is. Nope, he just made the play that needed to be made.
You, on the other hand, were within a few feet of the kick returner on kicks that were returned for touchdowns by the Minnesota Vikings and the Cincinnati Bengals. In the Vikings game, you did tap the runner with your hand, but against the Bengals, you just looked at Bernard Scott as he came so close that you could probably smell his breath. You didn’t reach out your hand towards him. You didn’t dive at his legs. You didn’t do anything except watch him run for a touchdown.
Excuse me for disagreeing with you, but I think you could have done just a bit more. Moreover, I think most of Steeler Nation agrees with me.
But apparently Reed feels that he did exactly what he was coached to do. He went on to express further disagreement with the fans’ perception.
“That was about a 50-yard sprint for me, and my job is to make him cut back inside and he went inside of me. Looking back at the play, if I’d have slowed down a little bit I maybe could have dove in his path a little better. For me, that was fast, and I was cutting him off. I thought we had a chance to get him, and we didn’t get him down.”
It’s great to know that you have a specific assignment on that play, Jeff. But there are times when you just have to do a little bit more than your assignment.
When Big Ben made that tackle, he was doing just a little more than was expected. When Hines Ward continues to block until the whistle blows, he is doing just a little more than is expected. When 6 Steelers escorted James Harrison into the endzone during Super Bowl XLIII and made sure that no Cardinals players touched him, they were doing just a little more than is expected.
You see, that’s the point that you’re missing. We EXPECT you to do more than is expected. Pittsburgh is a tough town, and Steeler Nation is a tough audience. We expect excellence from you, even when it’s not your job. Do it anyway.
We expect Steelers players to be tough. That’s why we don’t like it when Steelers running backs make half-hearted attempts to block pass rushers. You’re all football players. More importantly, you’re Pittsburgh Steelers football players. We expect you to be tough. Every one of you. Even the kicker.
But of course you disagree with all of this. Your toughness only comes out when you are in a drunken stupor. And it is reserved for towel dispensers, and police officers.
According to you, we fans “don’t know what we’re talking about”. Okay, maybe we don’t. But next time make the #$^%& tackle, even if it’s not your assignment.
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