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Steelers Play of the Game: Steelers fake field goal

Monday, September 22, 2003

By Gerry Dulac, Post-Gazette Sports Writer

CINCINNATI -- The Steelers don't have any catchy nickname attached to the play. No Bumarooski. Or Home Run Throwback. Or some clever-sounding moniker that usually accompanies a trick play.

"We just call it Bengal," said Kevin Spencer, the Steelers' special teams coach.

Steelers holder Tommy Maddox completes a 23-yard pass to tight end Jay Riemersma out of a fake field goal formation as kicker Jeff Reed moves up to block. (Peter Diana, Post-Gazette)
Click photo for larger image.

That's it.

Bengal.

Yawn.

There was nothing boring, though, about Bengal, the play that did in the team for which it is named. Nothing boring about the planning, which came last week during Spencer's weekly film study of the opponent. Nothing boring about the execution, which was even better than the Steelers envisioned.

And certainly nothing boring about the result -- the play that fooled the Cincinnati Bengals energized the Steelers and led to a 17-10 victory at Paul Brown Stadium.

Just call it Bengal-killer.

"We couldn't have drawn it up any better," tight end Jerame Tuman said.

"They gave us the exact look we were looking for," quarterback Tommy Maddox said.

One week after the special teams were the culprit in a 41-20 loss in Kansas City, they turned around and came up with the big play that lifted the Steelers to their second victory of the season. And the play was as efficient as it was sneaky -- a 23-yard pass from Maddox to Tuman on a fake field-goal attempt in the second quarter.

Three plays after the sorcery, the Steelers scored their first touchdown on a 7-yard pass from Maddox to wide receiver Hines Ward. From there, they never looked back.

"That's what you want to get out of those plays like that -- a little momentum," Tuman said. "If you don't capitalize on them, then the momentum is for nothing. We were able to capitalize on it and score."

The Steelers called the play after studying game films last week that showed the Bengals rushing two players from the right side and paying little attention to the wing blocker, Tuman, who lines up on the left side.

Coach Bill Cowher said he thought about calling for the fake in the first quarter on the play when kicker Jeff Reed was wide right on a 24-yard field-goal attempt -- his first miss of the season. But when the Steelers were faced with fourth-and-3 at the Bengals' 32 in the second quarter, Spencer called for the play. And Cowher concurred.

"I'll be honest, I've called it a lot," Cowher said. "But we've just never got the look we've been looking for."

This time, they did. Maddox, the holder, has the option of calling off the play, just as he does when he audibles at the line of scrimmage. But he noticed the Bengals doing exactly what the Steelers saw on film.

"They bring two guys off the edge, trying to block it," Maddox said. "Then they try to push up the middle."

The play was on.

Maddox stood up from the hold and threw a pass in the left flat to Tuman, who was wide open. Tuman ran to the Bengals' 9, where he was finally pushed out of bounds by cornerback Reggie Myles.

Three players later, Ward scored the first touchdown.

Bengal-killer.

"Nice for that to work for you for a change," Spencer said.

He was smiling when he said that, the look of a man who knows how fortune falls in the National Football League. Last week, the special teams allowed a 100-yard kickoff return for touchdown and a 45-yard punt return that set up another touchdown in the loss to the Chiefs. Last week, the special teams ranked behind the city budget and police layoffs as the most significant ailments in Pittsburgh.

Yesterday, the play they suspected would work against the Bengals worked better than if it were diagrammed in a meeting room on the South Side.

"I knew it had a good chance to work," Tuman said. "There was no one out there. A little faster, maybe I could have gone all the way."

"I thought we might be able to apply it," Spencer said. "We coached-up Tommy where we told him if we got that look, we could run it. We always coach Tommy -- these are the looks we're looking for. We always try to give him the what-if situation to get out [of the play]. We've had it on before, but you're not always getting what you're hoping."

One of the other options on the play is for Maddox to throw the ball to Reed. But they knew Tuman would be open so Reed stayed in to help, uh, block for Maddox.

"I wouldn't call it that," Reed said. "I think three guys got a piece of me. I was just trying to get in their way. I didn't do that great a job, but I slowed them down a little bit."

None of the Bengals saw it coming. They expected Reed, who kicked a 51-yard field goal against the Chiefs, to try another.

"It's in Jeff's range," Spencer said. "They shouldn't smell a rat. We'll kick it from there."

"In that situation, you've got to know it's a long attempt," said Bengals linebacker Kevin Hardy, a member of the field-goal unit. "If you come with an all-out block ... they get you."

The Steelers did.

Just call it Bengal-killer.


Gerry Dulac can be reached at gdulac@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1466.

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