The Pittsburgh Steelers secured a crucial AFC victory on Sunday in their hunt for the playoffs, against a division rival, no less, by a score of 33-20, and their first-year kicker, Chris Boswell, provided the margin of victory.
For the second time this season, the 24-year-old Texas native made four field goals in a game with Pittsburgh, the first occasion actually being Week Six, the second game of his career. He also went 3-for-3 on extra point attempts, giving him 15 total points for the game, his highest point total thus far in his young career.
In fact, Boswell is finding himself moving up the boards with respect to the rest of the kickers in the league, in spite of the fact that he was unemployed for the first four weeks of the season. After Sunday’s performance, his 24 field goals made puts him just four field goals behind the league leader, and in 11th overall, with the eight kickers directly in front of him having only 25 or 26 makes, not far ahead at all.
After going 4-for-4 on Sunday on his field goal attempts, Boswell has also raised his average up to 92.3 on the season, which is the eighth-highest percentage in the league currently, and the fifth-highest among kickers with at least 25 attempts.
Thus far, he has been money from the 20-39-yard range, making all 13 attempts from those distances. He also happens to be 2-for-2 from 50 yards and beyond, making a 50- and 51-yarder during the course of the season.
The only blips on his resume as a field goal kicker have come from the 40-49-yard range, where admittedly Shaun Suisham had staked his claim as among the best kickers in the league over the course of the past few seasons.
Both of his misses have come from that distance this season, but I do think that it is worth noting that in each game in which he has missed a field goal, he has also made three others, so he has never posted a game of under 75 percent accuracy this far, and has seven games of 100 percent accuracy.
Boswell does have one miss on 19 extra point attempts, but, again, it must be pointed out that there are only eight kickers in the league who have yet to miss on an extra point since the line of scrimmage was moved back to the 15-yard line.
The only area in which he may be somewhat wanting—which has been no different from Suisham’s resume—is that the Steelers have not, like the rest of the league, been able to consistently get touchbacks on kickoffs, though it also doesn’t seem to be their strategy.
For as much hand-wringing as there has been for the Steelers’ own return game, their coverage unit with Boswell as the kicker has only allowed an average of 22.7 yards per return. And he has recorded 21 touchbacks on 57 kickoffs, a rate of about 37 percent, which is around Suisham’s average since the kickoffs were moved up in 2011.