The Pittsburgh Steelers’ season is now over, ending in somewhat inauspicious fashion after giving up a go-ahead touchdown and a two-point conversion off of a turnover to surrender the lead with three minutes to play. But in many ways, to be sure, it is remarkable that the Steelers had ever even gotten that far, and there are many reason for it.
One of the biggest reasons has to be first-year kicker Chris Boswell, who was the team’s fourth kicker starting from the beginning of the postseason, with the first three having either gotten injured or cut due to poor performance, later learning that he, too, was injured.
In spite of all of the chaos that surrounded the position for the first couple of months of the start of meaningful football activity, Boswell’s calming presence—and more importantly, his steady performance—provided a stabilizing effect not only to the placekicker spot, but also, somewhat, to the offense as a whole, knowing that they had somebody back there who was quickly gaining trust.
Signed on a tryout basis after the Steelers’ Week Four loss in which Josh Scobee missed two fourth-quarter field goals to help send a game into overtime, Boswell proved himself to be a quality pickup over the course of the entire regular season.
He was not pressed into too much action in his first game, on the road in San Diego, kicking three successful extra points and a 47-yard field goal, but just the next week, he was asked to kick four field goals, and he made all of them.
In fact, Boswell made his first 10 field goals before missing his first of the season, and that came in a game in which he made three other field goals. In each of the three games in which he missed a field goal, he made at least two field goals in the same game. Twice he made three field goals. The Steelers also won all three of those games.
Over all, the first-year kicker was good on 29 of 32 field goal attempt for an accuracy of 90.6 percent. That was tied for the fifth-best accuracy for a single season in franchise history, and it was good for the seventh-best in the league in 2015. Had he not missed in the season finale, he would have tied for the third-best in the league, and second-best in franchise history.
But most impressive, as it would turn out, would be his postseason performance. In two games, the Steelers asked him to come on to try seven field goals, and he hit on all seven of them, including the game-winning field goal late in the Wildcard round. He hit a late 47-yard field goal in the Divisional round to make it a seven-point game after making two field goals earlier in the game.
Boswell’s seven field goals tied for the most that a Steelers kicker had ever made over the course of a single postseason performance. The game before, he also became the youngest kicker to ever kick four field goals in a postseason game.
In all, Boswell was successful on 36 of 39 field goal attempts in 2015, which would work out to an accuracy of 92.3, including the 100 percent success rate in the playoffs. His calm demeanor proved true in his most pressured moments during his first season in the NFL.