What a difference a year makes. Chris Boswell probably felt on top of the world around this time last season as he was routinely making game-winning field goals and helping to push the Pittsburgh Steelers to a 13-3 record with their first playoff bye since 2010, earning Pro Bowl recognition and a fat new contract without even being an unrestricted free agent.
Fast forward to the present, wherein Boswell has already missed twice as many field goals in 2018 as last season, and in significantly fewer than half of the attempts. Boswell hit 35 of 38 field goals a year ago, one of the misses being a block.
After tonight’s game, he has missed six out of 16, including a would-be game-tying field goal tonight as time expired on which he slipped on the surface of the Oakland stadium. The field was an issue all day, but Boswell declined to place the blame anywhere but himself.
“The field’s the field”, he told reporters after the game. “You can’t complain about it. You can’t back away. It’s as bad for me as it is for everybody else. I’ve just got to find a way to put it in”. He added later to another question, “it’s the same for everybody. The same for their kicker, the same for me”.
— Dejan Kovacevic (@Dejan_Kovacevic) December 10, 2018
As mentioned, players slipping was a theme throughout the game. Ryan Switzer slipped on multiple return attempts. Derek Carr slipped in the first half that helped lead to a Stephon Tuitt sack deep in the Raiders’ own end. One of Oakland’s running backs slipped trying to one-cut through the leftside A gap for a loss.
But a kicker has to be able to make a field goal in any type of field condition under any circumstances. If he is out there on the field and standing a reasonable distance away from the uprights, he is expected to make his kick every time unless the blocking breaks down and allows a block that is not due to a low trajectory on the boot.
After Boswell missed would-be game-winner from 42 yards out in the season opener, he reportedly spent the next day in a dimly-lit indoor field rekicking from that spot. It was the first major taste of failure at the professional level, and he seemed to take it hard.
Several more misses later, it’s not impossible that he is soon out of a job, and I’m not sure he would blame anybody. Asked to evaluate his performance this season, he said, “it’s terrible, what else do you want me to say?”.
Despite everything, he affirmed that he still has confidence in himself, and he just has to “start putting more through”. After earlier misses in the season, they reportedly worked on some of his mechanics. After more misses, he said that his mechanics were “obviously not” sound “if I keep missing kicks”.
While his candor in addressing his struggles in the loss is appreciated, I just hope he doesn’t completely go into the tank. It’s a tough job for sure.