Steelers First to Worst In Field Goal Percentage in Four Years

San Francisco weaponized P Andy Lee in San Francisco's 20-3 win in Week 15.

He took field position back from the Steelers with the force of a falling feather. Dropping multiple punts deep in Steelers territory, he individually hampered the Steelers offense almost as much as OLB Aldon Smith's three sacks did.

K David Akers was as solid as any other, drilling two kicks to keep the pressure on the visiting Steelers.

If the kickers of the 49ers are Mike Tirico, the Steelers' are John Sutcliffe.

Special teams, especially the individuals kicking the ball, factor in heavily come post-season time. While San Francisco may not have to worry, the Steelers certainly do.

Jason Kapinos, the replacement of Daniel Sepulveda for the second consecutive year, is in the bottom third of the league in net average. Taking the net average is more an accurate depiction of a punter's overall success, being that a fair catch is a desirable outcome.

The more glaring problem is with K Shaun Suisham. Or, more specifically, his problem with field goals of 40 yards or more.

His 52-yard field goal against San Francisco would have been good from 52.5 yards, and the surprise of that successful kick was quickly drowned out when he missed a 48-yarder later in the game. He currently ranks last in the NFL with a 73.1 percentage.

It's the longer ones that make or break a kicker's career. Missing 40+ yard field goals has been an alarming trend for Suisham - and the Steelers recently.

Dating back to the 2010 playoffs, Suisham is 6-for-13 (46.1 percent) from 40 yards or longer. Both of Suisham's misses in the post-season - one from 43 yards against Baltimore and from 52 against Green Bay in the Super Bowl - were in close games.

Of the last 10 Super Bowl champions, none have missed more than one field goal of 40+ yards in the playoffs.

Suisham made Steelers fans forget ousted K Jeff Reed, who was abysmal in his nine final games in Pittsburgh (68.2 percent). He hit 14-of-15 in the final seven regular season games, including 8-of-9 from 40+ yards.

He had to work to get the team's field goal percentage up to 78.4 percent, good for 25th in the league. The bottom fell out though, and the Steelers have fallen from 92 percent in 2007, best in the league in Tomlin's first season, to last by Week 14 of 2011.

There aren't any reports swirling about the Steelers auditioning new kickers. Salary cap space largely limits any potential transactions, but with Suisham's recent streak of inaccuracy, the Steelers may have to loosen up the restrictions on going for it in 4th-and-short situations inside the opponents' 33 to 23 yard lines.

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