The Pittsburgh Steelers entered last night’s game with two kickers on the roster. While they received roughly equal work, however, it was hard not to feel as though one was more of an afterthought, even unintentionally, with the spotlight on embattled incumbent former Pro Bowler Chris Boswell.
Boswell had been having a very strong training camp leading up to the first preseason game, making something like 27 of 28 field goal attempts over the length of time, with the only miss being from 50 yards.
Mike Tomlin took the simple approach of alternating opportunities between Boswell and rookie kicker Matthew Wright against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but the focus still felt like it was on Boswell. They each kicked three times, with Boswell getting two field goal attempts and one point after attempt. He made every opportunity and looked good doing it, making a long field goal of 47 yards.
“Day in and day out, I’ve just got to come in and start with a fresh mind”, the fifth-year kicker said after the game. “Don’t let anything linger. Don’t let anything carry over. I’m hitting the ball really well right now and I’ve just got to keep it up”.
Boswell is, of course, coming off an abysmal 2018 season. He missed seven of his 20 field goal attempts just a year after he went 35 for 38, earning a Pro Bowl selection. He kicked four game-winners in 2017, but missed on those chances a year later, including a 42-yarder in an overtime tie in the season opener against the Cleveland Browns, which is where the troubles began.
It was clear that throughout the year, his confidence was shaken, something that had seemed improbable for him. He seemed to be the type of guy who had ice in his veins, but after missing that kick in Week One, he initially would not talk to reporters, and he was found lingering on that kick, repeatedly replaying that kick—42 yards out, from the right hash mark—in an unlit practice facility days later.
By the end of the year, he had missed 12 kicks in total, including five extra points, and he had to compete late in the season to retain his job. He is competing once again, and has a $2 million roster bonus on the line if he is still here by the end of the preseason.
So far, it’s looking likely that he will remain here, as he feels like he’s back on the right track, with the right mindset. “They all feel the same. Each kick feels the same”, he said. “I’ve just got to focus on the next kick and worry about that, and everything should be fine”.