The Pittsburgh Steelers enter today’s crucial game against the New England Patriots with Ben Roethlisberger nursing a rib injury, James Conner sitting out, perhaps their primary number three receiver and return man inactive, their starting right tackle having finally been sent to injured reserve, a shakeup in the secondary, and to top it all off, a kicker they weren’t confident enough to let him keep his job for another week without bringing in a couple of challengers—one of whom they even housed overnight.
If that doesn’t sound like the ideal circumstances to you, then congratulations, you actually know how to read and digest information. Fittingly, the last time these two teams played, the Steelers squandered a three-point deficit with a red-zone interception when they could have tied the game with a field goal.
Meanwhile, Chris Boswell is licking his wounds after missing four field goals in the past three weeks, and six of 16 on the year, as well as five extra point attempts. Not only did they bring in competition, they asked former kicker Shaun Suisham to come in and talk with him.
Suisham was the Steelers’ primary kicker between 2010 and 2014. He was signed to an extended contract heading into 2015 when he tore his ACL in the opening preseason game, which would eventually lead to Boswell getting the job four games into the regular season. Suisham was on injured reserve during Boswell’s rookie season, so they were able to work together and get to know each other.
Said special teams coordinator Danny Smith about the decision to ask Suisham to come in this past week, “any kicker to kicker [discussion] is always helpful. Kicker to kicker, sportswriter to sportswriter, coach to coach, trainer to trainer, equipment guy to equipment guy, right? They share general information, they’ve had similar experiences”.
When Suisham’s career ended, he was the Steelers’ all-time most accurate kicker in the franchise’s history, having made 87.9 percent of his field goal attempts. If we took only his years in Pittsburgh, that percentage would stand as the second-most accurate in NFL history behind only Justin Tucker, who is north of 90 percent.
Boswell was on pace to surpass even that, having made 87 of his first 97 field goal attempts through his first three seasons. But having gone 10-for-16 this year, his career accuracy has dropped to 85.6—which is still the 12th-best in history.
Smith said that they spent a lot of time this week working with Boswell on technique, and they saw positive signs during Thursday’s practice, during which he ‘tried out’ to retain his job. “He’s looked good a lot of times”, he said. “It would be nice to get back to that”.