Boswell Awaits Fate as Steelers Work Out Kickers

Pittsburgh kicker has missed eleven kicks this season

Josh Rowntree
December 12, 2018 - 4:56 pm
Pittsburgh Steelers kicker Chris Boswell (9) slips during a field goal attempt to tie the game against the Oakland Raiders during the fourth quarter at Oakland Coliseum.

Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

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Chris Boswell has saved the day and covered a lot of the Steelers’ issues over the previous three seasons. But now, the fourth-year placekicker may be on his way out. 

Boswell has missed six field goals this season, as well as five extra points. 

On Wednesday, the Steelers brought in free agents Kai Forbath and Matt McCrane for try out for Boswell’s position.

“That’s the nature of this business,” Boswell said Wednesday, before the tryouts reportedly began. “We’re judged on stats and wins and losses and if we don’t do the job, they look elsewhere. It’s just the nature of the business and the world we live in.”

Boswell’s issues culminated in him slipping on the Oakland turf in Sunday’s 24-21 loss to the Raiders, a kick that, if good, would have tied the game in dramatic fashion. 

“All I know is the ball didn’t go through and that’s the only thing that matters, at the end of the day,” Boswell said. “I’ve got to look forward to the next one.” 

While the second miss in Oakland may not be fully on Boswell, as turf issues were apparent throughout the game, he is certainly responsible for the five other misses, as well as the missed extra points. 

In all, Boswell’s misses have cost the Steelers 23 points. Here’s how his key misses break down.

• He missed two field goals against Oakland and the Steelers lost by three points. 

• Boswell missed an extra point against the Chargers, which changed how the end of the game unfolded. Pittsburgh lost by 3.

• Against Denver, the Steelers would have been driving for the win, instead of the tie, if Boswell had not missed a field goal. 

• In the loss to Kansas City, Boswell missed a field goal and an extra point. The Steelers lose by five points. 

• In the season opener, Boswell, missed a field goal in overtime that would have been the game-winner. 

“It’s mechanical, it’s mental, it’s a mixture of everything,” Boswell said. “You’ve just got to figure it out, as you go and find something that works for you. Something that works for me may not for for someone else. It’s just figuring myself out and coming back from this.”

As for the possibility of a new kicker taking his spot?

“I’m just here today, and they’ll figure it out tomorrow or today,” Boswell said. “I don’t know.

“It was a normal Wednesday, like what I’ve had for the last four years now. Working with  (special teams coordinator) Danny (Smith), we trust what we’re doing. But we’ve just got to find the answers.”

The mental side appears to be a factor for Boswell, who made over 92 percent of his kicks in the 2017-2018 season. 

“It’s just like any other position, like any other sport.,” he said. “You’ve just got to trust yourself and know that you got here for a reason and just get back to doing you and don’t worry about all the other, little things.”

Another specialist, punter Jordan Berry, understands how the brain can be a funny thing when it comes to kicking. 

“You’ve got two aspects with the mental thing, where guys get in their head and get the yips, or whatever. But then you’ve also got your mental process and the actual kicking of it. 

“When you’ve been doing something for as long as we’ve been doing it, college, high school, NFL, every now and then, something with your process, you might forget about.”

Other teammates, like cornerback Mike Hilton, who sits next to Boswell in the Steelers’ locker room, have not lost faith in him and remind him of that.

“Just keep your head high,” Hilton said. “That’s part of it. It’s just like a quarterback throwing x-amount of interceptions, receivers dropping balls. Everybody’s going to have their off days. 

Personally, I haven’t lost confidence in him. I know, when it comes down to it, he’ll be able to knock them through for us.”

But, at least as of Wednesday afternoon, Boswell’s position was very much in doubt. 

Forbath is 31 years old and has kicked for Washington, New Orleans and, most recently, Minnesota. Last season, he missed six field goals and five extra points, just like Boswell has done this season. 

McCrane, 24, kicked for both the Raiders and Arizona this year. He was a perfect 8-for-8 on extra points, but missed four field goals on nine attempts while with Oakland. 

So the options are not exactly great, leaving the door open for Boswell to keep his job.

“I’ve been in that situation before,’ he said. “I mean, I came here off the street. I was cut many times before that and I’ve kind of always had my back against the wall since coming out of college.”

Berry trusts in Boswell, but understands that Boswell needs to do that same.

“It’s pressure that he’s working through,” Berry added. “We’re all confident that he’s going to bounce back and have a good run here at the end of the season. 

“He’s good. He’s just got to make the kicks.”