While there was plenty to complain about on the offense and defense in yesterday’s game—even if the offense eventually was able to put up 35 points of their own, with the benefit of only one turnover—the special teams was another major issue in the game as well.
The steadiest part of the special teams unit for the past three years had been kicker Chris Boswell, who became the first Pittsburgh Steelers specialist to earn a trip to the Pro Bowl in decades during the 2017 season. But after the first two games of the regular season, there is reason to worry.
The fourth-year veteran has attempted and missed a total of two field goals so far this year. He also missed one of the seven extra points that he has attempted so far. Boswell only missed three field goals all of last season, and one of those misses was the result of a block.
“It’s really frustrating”, he admitted after the game following a miss from 49 yards out and sending an extra point wide right, “but to have teammates’ confidence and trust means a lot. I’ve just got to kick my way through this and get back to where I was”.
Where he was is the top of the franchise leaderboard. Entering this season, he had connected on 85 of his 95 career attempts, posting an accuracy percentage north of 89 percent, which was the highest in team history. He could have hit 90 percent if he made his first five field goals of the season.
Boswell made 35 of 38 field goal attempts last season, even with the block, and also connected on 37 extra points. He scored 142 points in all, which was the most in a single season in Steelers history. His 35 successful field goal makes was also the most any Steelers kicker had ever achieved.
After he missed a would-be game-winning 42-yard field goal late in overtime last week, Boswell declined to talk to reporters in the early portion of the week. The same day that he sped through the locker room, he was seen retrying the missed field goal on his own in an indoor facility, from the exact spot of the miss.
Boswell has missed three of the nine kicks he has attempted so far this season if you include the extra points. He admitted after yesterday’s game that he has to kick his way through his troubles. It’s too early to know if the mental aspect of these struggles are going to get to him, but the only way to push through is to keep going out there.
It’s not like the team is going to cut him. They just signed him to a four-year extension averaging $4.2 million per season in new money. He got a $6 million signing bonus, which would result in nearly $5 million in dead money for the 2019 season.