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Steelers kick Jags farther down ladder

©Associated Press
December 2, 2002

JACKSONVILLE -- The Steelers are set at kicker for their playoff push. The quarterback position is a much more interesting story.

Kordell Stewart made a bid to get his job back for good and recently signed rookie Jeff Reed made all six field-goal attempts to lift Pittsburgh over Jacksonville, 25-23.

"It's nice to have a very dependable kicker," Steelers coach Bill Cowher said.

Reed's sixth field goal, a 50-yarder, gave Pittsburgh a 25-17 lead with 4:30 left.

The Jaguars answered with a 65-yard touchdown drive to cut the deficit to two with 1:16 left. But the Steelers, otherwise tough all day, stopped Jacksonville on the 2-point try when Dewayne Washington broke up a pass Mark Brunell threw into quadruple coverage trying to hit Jimmy Smith.

The Steelers, 6-1-1 in their past eight, lead by 11/2 games over Baltimore and Cleveland in the AFC North.

The Jaguars lost their second straight after a two-game winning streak, and their brief stay in the playoff race is all but over.

Stewart, who regained the starting job after Tommy Maddox's injury two weeks ago, threw for 202 yards and ran for 84 and the team's lone touchdown.

"We were fully aware of Kordell Stewart and what he can do," Jaguars defensive end Marco Coleman said. "He's a humble player right now. He's fighting for a starting position, so you know he's going to come out and play with heart and guts."

Next decision for Cowher is who starts the next game against Houston.

"I'm not going to worry about that right now," Cowher said.

Maddox, who entered only as Reed's holder, said "you're asking the wrong person," when asked if he thought he would get his job back.

The kicking situation is much more concrete.

Reed, a rookie from North Carolina, was signed two weeks ago when Todd Peterson went on injured reserve with cracked ribs.

Reed hit from 25, 29, 30, 46, 33 and 50. The sixth kick tied Gary Anderson's 14-year-old franchise record.

Cowher never doubted sending Reed out.

"As long as we were inside the 35, that was what I was looking at," Cowher said.

Pittsburgh's defense, 28th against the pass, held Brunell to 146 yards passing, most in the fourth quarter.

With Jacksonville trailing 22-10, Brunell took advantage of a busted coverage and hit Kyle Brady for a 43-yard touchdown.

But Stewart drove the Steelers 43 yards on the next drive to set up Reed's 50-yarder.

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