No, Jeff Reed maintains, he isn't about to turn into Jack Lambert and go rogue-Cowboy-Cliff-Harris on every opposing player who strays menacingly into the Steelers' kicking territory.
No, he isn't about to react only to spitters, either. Which, in this case, would make that nickname Jack Spat Reed.
"I can't blame it on anybody but myself," this Steelers place-kicker said about the resulting 15-yard penalty that awarded Baltimore prime field position in the AFC North-clinching game the defense held on to win, 13-9. The Ravens' Frank Walker, so Reed surmised, went beyond the normal kick-blocking attempt when Walker hurtled himself toward Reed's plant leg on the extra-point that gave the Steelers a four-point advantage. Yet when Mitch Berger intervened to break up hostilities, Walker -- so contend the law firm of Berger and Reed -- spat in the holder-punter's face. And that prompted the shove from Reed.
"To this day, I think he was trying to take my leg out," Reed began to explain. But Walker's confrontation with Berger sealed the deal for Reed, who then reacted aggressively -- unlike you're normal, garden-variety kicker. Even though NFL officials found no evidence on tape (at least they did on Santonio Holmes' touchdown), Reed said of Walker, "He turned around and spit in Mike's face when Mike was trying to be the peacemaker. You can see Mike's reaction. You can't see him spit on film. But it shows no class."
Reed's reaction is something he regrets. "Right after I did it, I think every single player on the sidelines hated me," he added with a grin. "Forty seconds left. Give them a short field. That's not what you want. The defense saved me.
"People push and shove all the time. It's football. I wouldn't necessarily say it was a penalty. But I did push him, and that's what [the officials] saw. Looking back, it was stupid. But I think it was a classless act when you spit on somebody."
Beyond that game, another Sunday AFC contest caught Reed's eye -- especially with the Steelers about to play at Tennessee on Sunday. Titans Coach Jeff Fisher disdained a 50-yard, field-goal try in the waning moments last week for a fourth-and-1 that failed and allowed Houston to close out a 13-12 victory at domed Reliant Stadium. Fisher afterward explained it wasn't within the kicker's range, and this was a kicker who made a 51-yarder earlier in the game, a kicker who made a league-record eight in that very stadium a year earlier.
"I know [Rob] Bironas personally," Reed said. "He was in [Steelers] training camp four years ago. We talked since [the Houston loss],, but we haven't talked about that.
"I don't know what [Fisher] was thinking. He has a strong leg. It was in Houston." Ah, but Fisher moaned about the wind in the open-dome stadium. . . . "Doesn't matter," Reed continued. "Conditions were perfect. He made one from 51 yards, anyway. I think in our situation we would have gone for the field goal. That's why [coaches] get paid to do what they do. But I don't understand it when you're down by one."