DALLAS — After getting released by the Browns and Rams over the summer, Shaun Suisham was unemployed.
"You get used to playing football, that's what you do, and you worked for it every week," Suisham said. "When you're out of it, certainly it's uncomfortable when Sundays come around and you're at home."
In mid-November, however, the Steelers decided to cut PK Jeff Reed, who missed seven field goals in the first nine games, and they had a short list of candidates to replace him, special-teams coordinator Al Everest said.
Suisham, who signed his first contract with Pittsburgh as an undrafted free agent in 2005, was the choice.
He didn't wait long to make an impact — in his second game of the year, he made all four of his field-goal attempts, which each traveled more than 40 yards. The last one came in overtime, clinching a win against Buffalo.
"We enjoy Shaun," head coach Mike Tomlin said. "He's an extremely low-maintenance guy. He fits in. All he wants to do is contribute. He's definitely been a shot in the arm for us. All you have to do is point back to his second week with us, when he banged four 40-plus-yard field goals in Buffalo for us to win. He is a valued member of our team. He's earned that, and we're glad he's one of us."
Suisham made 14-of-15 field goals (93.3 percent) — a mark well above his career percentage of 80.8 — in seven regular-season games. He's 2-for-3 on field goals this postseason.
"He's handled his opportunity really well," Everest said. "I'm very happy for him. I like his demeanor. I like the way he handles his daily business and I like the way he handles the game."
The 29-year-old said part of the reason for his success this year has been his ability to enjoy the moment.
"That is something that I've tried to make a conscious effort on this year is to try to enjoy what it is I'm doing because it's very special," he said. "I'm very appreciative of it. I'm just taking it all in. I've been doing that all year and I think it's been helpful."
He may not have ever been discovered if not for a unique set of circumstances that allowed him to play high school football for an extra season.
Suisham grew up in Wallaceburg, Ontario and had no aspirations to play football in Canada or in the NFL. He said his high school teachers were on strike during his senior year and so there was no football that season.
Suisham explained that in Canada students are able to stay in high school for a fifth year and take college courses, so he did. Suisham credits a 58-yard field goal that he made in a championship game that season with providing him a scholarship to Bowling Green.
"They were the first team to offer me a scholarship and I took it," Suisham said.