We weren’t able to get around to talking about every single notable player for the Pittsburgh Steelers during our midseason evaluations at the bye week, so as we have another bye week and a brief pause in football, I wanted to take this time to circle back a bit and highlighting a few more players who played an undervalued role for the team this year.
The Steelers went 6-2 during the first half of the season, and did even better in the second half, with only a review in New York separating them from an 8-0 back half. 7-1 isn’t bad, but it is the difference between a bye week and homefield advantage.
As the season wore on, different players were called upon to step up at different times, and I wanted to take a moment to talk about some of them. This week, I will be highlighting Tyson Alualu, Sean Spence, Cameron Sutton, James Conner, Chris Hubbard, and Chris Boswell.
Player: Chris Boswell
We wrap up our bye week player review coverage with kicker Chris Boswell, the first Steelers specialist—not including returners—to make the Pro Bowl in over two decades. With a field goal percentage north of 90, four field goals made from 50 yards or beyond, and a quartet of game-winners to boot, he certainly deserved the distinction on his 35 successful makes.
A scrap-heap signing as the fourth option at kicker during the course of the 2015 season, Boswell has truly begun to establish himself as one of the better players at his position from year to year in his third season, doing so all the while having Dave Bryan blocked on Twitter.
In what little research I can find on the subject, the last, and possibly only other kickers to record four game-winning field goals in the last minute of a season were Josh Brown in 2006 and Ryan Longwell in 2004. While a kicker obviously needs the opportunities to set that record, the pressure of situations still makes it a remarkable achievement.
But pressure has never appeared to be a factor for Boswell, who recently described a game-winning field goal as, and I believe I’m paraphrasing here but, “just another kick”. A field goal is a routine, and that routine remains constant in all situations, even if the result of that routine can have higher or lower stakes depending on the context.
The only thing you can control, however, is your own process, and it’s not as though you don’t try as hard to make a field goal if you’re already winning by 17 points. Your process for that field goal is the same as a game-winner. The variable is how you let the moment affect you.
The aspect I am most excited for in the future is whether or not he—and by extension, the team—will legitimately seek to add the long-distance field goal to his repertoire. His four attempts from 50-plus are the second-most in a season in Steelers history, and his four makes are double the next-most. Boswell has six makes from that distance now in his career, behind only Gary Anderson and Jeff Reed, both tied with eight. Anderson tried 27, Reed 17, to get eight. Both played over 100 games—Anderson nearly 200—while Boswell hasn’t even played 50 yet for the Steelers.