One of the most-talked-about plays from yesterday’s game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cleveland Browns will inevitably be the fake field goal attempt that resulted in Steelers kicker Chris Boswell taking a shot and spilling out of bounds, ultimately leaving the game and being ruled out with a concussion.
While it initially looked like it might have been worse—possibly having suffered a knee injury of some kind—the end result was that the Steelers failed to put an easy three points on the board on a slow day in a 3-3 game, and they left themselves without a kicker for the rest of the day.
Which, if you take quarterback Ben Roethlisberger literally—and I’m by no means saying we definitely should, but he did say it—they may not have even realized. While talking after the game about how he is the emergency holder, Roethlisberger said, “and then we found out that [punter] Pressley [Harvin III] doesn’t kick. And we’re like, ‘well, let’s let him try’, but I hold with my right hand, so that probably wouldn’t be good if he hit my hand, so there was a lot of discussion at halftime”.
You’ll recall that the broadcast showed cornerback Cameron Sutton then working at holding, evidently his hand safe to sacrifice to the boot of the big-legged punter who doesn’t kick (he supposedly attempted two field goals in high school and missed both of them). But the Steelers ultimately neglected to try any kick, passing up multiple opportunities. His one kickoff was not only short, but out of bounds as well, so…not great.
The teams were tied late in the first half when Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin attempted to execute that fake field goal, Boswell rolling out to his right to throw. They did not have a guy open, however, and the veteran kicker ended up taking a shot in addition to failing to complete the throw, resulting in a turnover on downs, which fortunately the Browns were unable to take advantage of.
Not every punter is suited to be an emergency kicker, evidently. I’m far from an expert, but I would imagine that it’s easier for a kicker to be an emergency punter than it is vice versa. Shaun Suisham had to emergency punt once or twice, for example, a number of years ago when punter Daniel Sepulveda got hurt.
This all, of course, begs the question…who is the Steelers’ emergency kicker? I suppose the answer is Harvin, but only at the very last of all last resorts, since they ended up attempting a two-point conversion play even after drawing a 10-yard holding penalty, from the 12-yard line.
Is Harvin going to be doing some extra work on emergency kicking this week? Obviously, Pittsburgh is going to bring in a kicker this week and sign him to the practice squad, with Boswell in the concussion protocol, but you still need to know who’s going to attempt a field goal if you need a leg and don’t have one.