Perhaps Scott Norwood's 47-yard field goal try in Super Bowl XXV or Adam Vinatieri's two Super Bowl winners for the New England Patriots were more important.
Yet, as kicks go at training camp, few carried more pressure than the 42-yarder from the right hash Jeff Reed lined up yesterday at 4:28 p.m. in a broiling sun at Saint Vincent College.
The Steelers' first-team defense was on the other side. For some odd reason, fans jeered from the stands. And coach Mike Tomlin minutes earlier told the entire team that if Reed made the kick, practice would be over for the day; if he missed, it would go another 30 minutes with a physical 11-on-11 practice.
Ten days into their most grueling pro training camp with the Steelers, 30 minutes off was as welcome by players as a bye week.
"Coach Tomlin mentioned it to me and told me to keep my mouth shut and not tell anybody else," Reed said of a Monday night meeting with him. "Actually, it was worse that he did mention it because I thought about it all night last night and didn't want to let my team down."
He did not. The kick went through, and the Steelers celebrated their first small victory. Tomlin also had accomplished something, actually putting some pressure on his kicker and rewarding his players at the same time.
"I asked him to keep it to himself, just so he could sleep on it a little bit," Tomlin said. "He wore it well and he delivered for his teammates, and, really, that's what training camp's about. We're pitting these guys against each other, coming out and competing every day. I wanted to provide that same opportunity for Jeff."
Getting a rest
Tomlin has given some veterans a practice off here and there. Yesterday, Willie Parker, Travis Kirschke and Chris Hoke did not have to practice. Verron Haynes got the day off Monday.
"We're trying to take care of some guys," Tomlin said.
Rookie offensive lineman Darnell Stapleton missed practice, too, only his absence was because of injury (hyperextended knee). Tomlin said he may miss a few days.
Starting linebacker James Harrison (shoulder) and first-year linebacker Derek Rehage (thumb) also missed practice.
Tomlin tests rookie punter, too
Rookie punter Daniel Sepulveda watched in the afternoon as Mike Barr handled much of the punting. Sepulveda still feels the effects of a first-day punt count of 72 that Tomlin purposely had him do.
"I want to see what he can handle," Tomlin said. "He has to be a big guy for us, of course. You see what he's capable of out here on day-to-day basis, but we want to see him under adverse conditions and some of those are fatigue when he's leg-weary, and that's what football season is all about."
The West Coast offense is not the only thing Bill Walsh left as his legacy. He also blazed a path for minority hiring in NFL coaching circles and in the front office.
That's the opinion of longtime Steelers scout Bill Nunn, who dug out some gems at small black colleges in the late 1960s and early 1970s that helped to fuel four Super Bowl victories in Pittsburgh.
"I feel he did a lot to open up minority hiring in the league when he got to San Francisco," Nunn said as he watched the Steelers practice at Saint Vincent College. "He opened a lot of doors early before it became popular."
Back in the 1970s and 1980s, there no Rooney Rule and there were precious few black men on NFL coaching staffs. Fewer worked in the front office. Walsh helped to change that, but never drew attention to what he did. He quietly hired Dr. Harry Edwards, a black sociology professor at Cal-Berkeley, to assist the 49ers in 1985. He also hired Dennis Green in 1978.
Kreider bucks trends
Dan Kreider's role likely will be reduced this year because there will be more use of one back in the Steelers' offense. But here's a fullback who quietly has made a good, long career after not being drafted. He also has avoided, so far, those dreaded physical ailments that always seem to cut down fullbacks too early.
Tim Lester, the first blocking back for Jerome Bettis, was forced out of the game because of shoulder problems. Jon Witman finally had to give it up because of back problems. Those are two telltale career hazards for a football player whose job description is running and slamming his body into others usually bigger than he is.
Kreider, 30, has been among the best blocking fullbacks in the AFC for a long time. He also has not shown signs of back/shoulder problems that dogged Lester and Witman.
Timmons sits, falls behind
Outside linebacker Lawrence Timmons (groin) missed his fifth consecutive day of practice yesterday, and it is not known when he will return.
Even though Timmons has done a good job learning the playbook, his missed time on the practice field is "quite a setback," said linebackers coach Keith Butler.
"To play linebacker in this system, you don't get comfortable till the second or third year," Butler said. "He's a smart kid. He can sit there and tell me on the sideline what he's supposed to do, but when the bullets start flying we don't slow it down for him in a game.
"He's got to be able to quickly think about it."
Colclough fields some kicks
When the Steelers worked on kickoff returns yesterday morning, wide receiver Willie Reid and free-agent running back Gary Russell handled the first two returns. On the third, cornerback Ricardo Colclough -- the same player who muffed several kicks and punts last season -- handled the return.