After putting a 46-yard field goal through the uprights and converting five extra point attempts Monday night in the Pittsburgh Steelers regular season opening win over the Washington Redskins, kicker Chris Boswell starts his sophomore NFL season with a perfect 100% conversion rate. That is something that his two predecessors have struggled to do in their sophomore season with the team. While Boswell enjoyed the claim to most productive rookie kicker in Steelers history last season, it is unknown if this will be enough to shake the mysterious sophomore slump that both Shaun Suisham and Jeff Reed suffered before him.
Both previous kickers share a similar narrative; Reed in his first season, converted 17/19 field goals for the 2002 Steelers before mysteriously falling to 23/32 in 2003. Reed’s 23/32 clip is good enough for a 71.9 FG%, his worst full season mark and far from his 81.9 FG% career mark with the Steelers.
The sophomore slump’s next victim was the most accurate kicker in Steelers history as Suisham, who struggled in his second season as a Steeler in 2011 after impressing the year before by making 17 of 18 attempts, good for a 93.3 FG% rate. Suisham’s sophomore season with the Steelers saw him miss eight attempts, going 23/31 with a 74.2 FG%, also his worst mark as a member of the Steelers and a far cry from his 87.9% career rate in Pittsburgh.
So what does this mean for Boswell? Well, if you are a believer in jinxes and that history repeats itself, then worry not so much as the latter shows that the sophomore slump virus plaguing Steelers kickers this century is almost fully curable after one year. Reed returned to having FG% rates of 84.8% and 82.8% in the two following years and only posted rates 75% or lower twice in the seven years after. Suisham’s recovery story is even more positive, as the Canadian-born kicker posted 90% FG rates in every other season but his sophomore year with the Steelers.
It is too early to say whether Boswell will fall victim to the mysterious sophomore slump but by converting all his attempts in the week one victory over the Redskins, he has endured 1/16th of the journey already.