Who would have thought that the Pittsburgh Steelers, off the scrap heat, uncovered a Pro Bowler in the aftermath of an ugly Hall of Fame game in 2015, a game in which the playing surface was in such poor shape that it contributed to their kicker, Shaun Suisham, suffering what proved to be a career-ending ACL tear?
That is what happened, eventually, and officially, as of yesterday, as the team’s current placekicker, third-year Chris Boswell, was named to the Pro Bowl along with seven of his teammates, the most that the team has had in a since season in over a decade.
It didn’t come all that simply, of course. After Suisham—who was at that time the most accurate kicker in team history for his work from 2010 to 2014—was injured, the Steelers initially replaced him with Garrett Hartley.
The former Saints kicker, however, after a couple of preseason games, suffered a significant hamstring injury that resulted in the team placing him on injured reserve, until he healed enough to reach an injury settlement.
The second injury to a kicker led to the team seeking a bold move, making the move for a more established talent in former Jaguars kicker Josh Scobee. 32 years old at the time, the veteran found himself in a kicking duel and the team willing to part with him for a sixth-round pick.
It didn’t last long, and the Steelers were wise to pull the plug after six games, while Scobee missed on four of his 10 field-goal attempts, including two opportunities for game-winners against the Ravens in week four.
Following that game, the organization released him and then hosted a number of kickers for tryouts. Among them was Boswell, originally a 2014 undrafted free agent for the Texans. After previously failing to make the Giants, he won the day largely because of the poise that he showed, and that has proven to be his greatest asset.
In 41 career regular season games, he has connected on 83 of 93 field goals for a current career success rate of 89.2 percent. According to Pro Football Focus, that would qualify as the third-highest rating in NFL history, behind only active kickers Justin Tucker (at just under 90 percent) and Dan Bailey (at just over 89.2 percent).
Their rankings require that a kicker attempt at least 100 field goals, however, so he has seven more kicks to go. If he manages to make his next seven, he will have a success rate of 90 percent.
Throughout the 2017 season, Boswell has been money. He has made 33 of his 36 field goal attempts, with one of those three missing being blocked. He is tied for the second-most made field goals in a single season in team history, and his next make will tie the record, owned by Norm Johnson.
Additionally, his 91.7 percent accuracy this season is the fifth-highest in team history. He is the first Steelers kicker to make the Pro Bowl since Gary Anderson in 1993, and just the fifth to do it all-time for the team. Lou Michaels was the first, in 1962, when he made 26 of 42 field goals, to demonstrate how far the position has come.