Lee And Spencer Return To Heinz Field

Former Pitt punter Andy Lee and cornerback Shawntae Spencer made an inauspicious return to Heinz Field Sunday, as the Pittsburgh Steelers beat their San Francisco 49ers decisively.

But that doesn't mean they didn't have individual success. Andy Lee boomed five punts for a 57.2-yard average, a net of 46 yards per punt, with three touchbacks, two inside the 20 and a long kick for 66 yards. Shawntae Spencer, a backup cornerback, had two solo tackles and one pass defended.

"That was the first game I've been back since I left Pittsburgh,'' Lee said. "It was just another game, really, but it was a place that I'm familiar with. So, that was nice, but at the same time I had to go out there and do a job. And you can't put any more into the game than there really is.''

For Spencer, at least, it was a return home. A former star at Pittsburgh's Woodland Hills High School, Spencer had a large contingent of family and friends at the game against the Steelers.

"This was my first time back, but I really approach every game the same,'' Spencer said. "It was good to be back, but it wasn't that big of a deal for me. It was good to be back home, so my friends and family could come see me play. They make it to a few West Coast games, but it's good to be back in familiar territory.

"They've got good fans here, but it's a little different being here as an opposing team. ... I really can't comment much on Pitt, because I haven't seen them a lot, but I still keep in touch with some guys there, and I still work out there in the offseason. So, I'm still real good friends with Kennard Cox and the entire Cox family and their family down in Miami.''

Lee nearly returned to Pittsburgh to punt for the Steelers this season. He worked out for the team, and they made him a contract offer. But the Niners matched it, so his career continued on the West Coast.

"I was just doing the business part of it, and I'm glad to be back in San Francisco,'' Lee said. "I've loved playing here, and I'm very glad that they matched my offer. It's a great place to live, a little expensive, but that's all right. It's a great place, but it's a little tough to play at Candlestick with the wind. There's beautiful weather, though, and I love the people there as well as the coaching staff.

"It gets windy (at Heinz Field), but I would say on an average day it's harder to kick at Candlestick with the wind. The field out here is a little tougher on kickers, the planting and stuff for the kickers, but I would say that the winds are tougher at Candlestick. But I hit the ball pretty well out there. It's too bad our team came down with a loss.''

Nonetheless, the 49ers have some good, young talent, like quarterback Alex Smith and running back Frank Gore on offense, and they could be turning things around this season.

"I would say that the guys in this locker room are coming together, and we're building some great camaraderie here,'' Lee said. "So, I think we're definitely on the upswing, and it's only going to be a matter of time for this franchise. So, I'm glad to be part of it. And it's nice having Shawntae here. He and I are good friends, just like we were at Pitt, and he's a great guy. We talk a lot and sit next to each other on the plane rides, so we get along real well.

"I definitely landed in a good situation, and I guess they've had some rough luck with punters. So, it's worked out real well for me, and I'd like to think I've taken advantage of it. ... I haven't had a chance to see Pitt on TV too often, but I still try to check on the scores and see how they're doing. I guess they've had a couple tough years, but it seems like they're close to turning things around with good players coming in and a good coaching staff.''

And the same could be said for the 49ers.

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