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Red Zone Success Leaves Shaun Suisham Idle On Sidelines

The Pittsburgh Steelers have been so efficient over the course of the past two weeks in putting the ball in the end zone that kicker Shaun Suisham has likely begun the become restless over on the sidelines, having not officially attempted a field goal in the last two games.

Of course, that is not the entire story. In the game before last, against the Indianapolis Colts, the Steelers did attempt one field goal, which was made, but the Colts jumped offside and gave Pittsburgh a first down. They put the ball into the end zone on the next play.

This past Sunday, he didn’t get a chance to attempt a field goal whether it would have counted or not, but he did find some excitement on an extra point try.

After Ben Roethlisberger’s third touchdown pass, holder Brad Wing had difficulty getting the snap down in time for Suisham to kick it. This happened on a field goal try earlier in the season against the Cleveland Browns, and it turned into a disaster with Wing being tackled for a 15-yard loss and a turnover on downs.

This time, however, he had the wherewithal to inspect his surroundings, and he wound up finding tight end Matt Spaeth in the end zone for an unscripted two-point conversion. So even then, Suisham was robbed of an opportunity to kick the ball.

Of course, when your kicker isn’t making field goals, yet your offense is still scoring 40 points a game, that is obviously a very good thing.

Over the last two weeks, the Steelers have converted on eight of nine red zone opportunities rather than settling for field goals, while adding another four touchdowns from beyond 20 yards, including three in the last game.

In large part thanks to the past two games, the Steelers have risen from the doldrums of the league in red zone offense, having been ranked last just three games ago. They now rank 20th in the league, converting on nearly 55 percent of their trips inside the 20, which is slightly better than their 2013 season conversion rate.

Over the span of the last three games, the Steelers have successfully scored a touchdown on 10 of their 12 trips in the red zone for a conversion percentage of 83 percent. That ranks third in the league in that period of time.

The issue, however, comes in analyzing the manner in which their opportunities are split. While in the comfort of their own homes playing at Heinz Field, the Steelers have converted a staggering 72 percent of their red zone opportunities, which is the fifth-best home red zone conversion rate in the league.

On the road? That’s an entirely different story. While red zone opportunities have been more scarce, they have only converted on less than 31 percent of their trips, and that ranks 31st in the league, behind only the Cincinnati Bengals.

Four of their next five games are on the road. Have they found their offensive answers over the last three games, and can it travel? The next month or so will be very telling.

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