"> ">

Field Goal Bill

<p>One day during practice, Coach Cowher reigns in the offense and kicks a three. "There he goes again... Field Goal Bill." In a following practice, Cowher cheats on the goal line drill. Stewart executes the play fake and hits fullback Dan Kreider in the endzone for six. Now the the defense complains, "But the offense only runs the ball during the goal line drill." Seems the Steeler defense has grown accostomed to what the rest of the NFL has, "And in trots Peterson."</p>

So he is Field Goal Bill now, is he?

Last season the Steelers red zone efficiency stunk. No doubt about it. As a result, PK Kris Brown attempted more field goals than any other kicker in the NFL and the result was a disastrous 13-3 record. The Pats were the best in red zone, both on offense and defense. As the Super Bowl trophy would indicate, not a bad way to go...

So, is this the source of the Steelers impotence?

A Steeler place kicker has led the League in scoring only once during the Cowher era. That was 1995, the year the Steelers went to the Super Bowl. Cowher best shake that bad FG habit...

As for FG attempts between 1995 and last season:

  • 2000: Steelers tied for 14th in the NFL in FG attempted
  • 1999: Tied for 18th
  • 1998: Tied for 10th
  • 1997: Tied for 23rd
  • 1996: Tied for 12th

Really, from 1996-2000, the FG attempts are roughly the same each and every season. However, when scoring chances went up, so did the number of TDs. The Steelers scored over 40 offensive TDs in 1997 (as compared to 28 in 2001 and just 19 in 1998, when scoring chances were few and far between).

Has everyone already gone and forgotten about 1997? At that point in time, Coach Cowher was known as a gambler. Do you remember Yancey Thigpen's spectacular grab on fourth down in that regular season game against New England? Kordell Stewart of all people directed a game winning touchdown drive that included that pass play and a 1 yard touchdown pass to... TE Mark Bruener! But wait, the Steelers needed a two point conversion just to send the game into overtime. The play? A pass to a sliding Thigpen in the endzone.

Sure, go ahead and call Wild Bill Marty Jr., but Field Goal Bill? Coach Cowherd? Hardly. 1997 was full of stunning comebacks, risky plays, and plenty of touchdowns. This even after Marty Jr. found AFC Championship pay dirt on the leg of Norm Johnson during the 1995-1996 season.

4th and 6 against the Denver Broncos. The Steelers run a shovel pass to Courtney Hawkins that goes for 20 yards.

"Run the Bus."

That was the fan cry during 1997. Sure, with that offensive line, who wouldn't call Jerome's number? How about Coach Cowher? He'd just assume catch the 8th or 9th defensive guy in the box leaning too much towards the run and put the ball up in the air.

The Steelers red zone woes in 2001 have little to do with Cowher. In fact, maybe they have more to do with Mularkey. Somehow, Gailey gets all the offensive credit in 1997 and Cowher receives all the demerits in 2001. Couldn't be Mularkey now could it? Gee, perish the thought.

Cowher has been fond of trick plays and taking chances since he started as head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers. He is not afraid to go for the throat. And he certainly is not adverse to deviating from the Norm to get six. He even prefers gadget players such as Stewart and El. Yet, suddenly there is all this criticism surrounding Field Goal Bill and the all-too-conservative play of the Steeler offense.

Field Goal Bill? That's a bunch of Mularkey.

Steel City Insider Top Stories