As hard as it is to believe, when Steelers kicker Chris Boswell lined up to attempt a 42-yard field goal in the second quarter of the Steelers loss to the Patriots at Heinz Field, it never actually occurred to me that he might miss.
In-fact, as I watched Chris Boswell’s attempt sail through the air, the football appeared to be heading where it always had so many times before since he became a Steeler last October: right down the middle. When it stayed out to the left (my left as I watched it on TV, Boswell’s right as he watched it at Heinz Field), I couldn’t believe it and thought I was seeing things when the officials singled that it was no good.
- Jim Nantz even seemed to pause before annoucing the miss, as if he wasn’t sure he could believe his eyes.
This is what happens when a kicker comes out of no where, as it seemed Chris Boswell did one year earlier when he won an in-season tryout and replaced the struggling Josh Scobee, and goes on to make 33 of his first 37 field goal attempts (and one of those misses is a block).
Had that miss happened under normal circumstances, it may not have hurt so much, but since it came just two plays after it appeared Pittsburgh had tied the game at 14 on a touchdown pass from Landry Jones to Darrius Heyward-Bey, it stung just a little more. (Especially on a day when you knew a Ben Roethlisberger late game rescue was out of the question.)
Of course, at the time, I didn’t feel as if Chris Boswell’s honeymoon with Steelers Nation had ended. However, in the fourth quarter, when the young kicker missed a 54-yard field goal after head coach Mike Tomlin (some would say) inexplicably sent him out there to attempt it with his team trailing by 11 points and only needing three yards to keep the drive going, my brother texted: “Boswell is having a bad game!”
- After seeing similar sentiments all throughout social media, I began to think the good feelings were over for Boswell.
Is that fair? Probably not. After all, while a 54-yard attempt is far from a sure thing – especially at Heinz Field–a 42-yarder is no gimme, either; coming into Sunday’s game, all three of Boswell’s career misses that weren’t blocks were from between 40 and 49 yards away, so maybe you don’t have to worry about him missing many actual gimmes (kicks from inside 40 yards).
Yes, while the honeymoon part of Boswell’s career may have ended on Sunday, I don’t think the insanely accurate part of it has. If you use your mind’s eye to go back and re-visit the vast majority of Boswell’s kicks since signing with the Steelers, it’s hard to picture many of them not being dead-center perfect.
What that tells me is whatever it is that Chris Boswell is doing–his approach, his target, his follow-through–is on the money; as long as it stays that way, his accuracy will continue to be closer to the 89 percent it was coming into Sunday’s game, than the 60 percent that it was during it.
Earlier in the year, as I watched yet another one of his kicks evenly split the uprights, I turned to someone and said, “Boswell’s going to be the best kicker in the NFL before long.”
The fact that Chris Boswell is doing what he’s doing just over a year after not being able to find an NFL job, exemplifies just how universally good kickers have become at their craft. Therefore, he may never reach the top of the mountain, but he’ll certainly be in the mix of top NFL kickers for the next several years.
- So, if you fear Boswell is Heinz Field’s latest victim and that he’ll suddenly become a head-case on par with Kris Brown and Jeff Reed, I don’t think you have to worry about that.
Sometimes, kickers miss field goals. And while Chris Boswell had a bad day on Sunday (relatively speaking–in-addition to his two misses, he also connected from 32, 44 and 46 yards away), he seems to be on his way to having a very good career with the Pittsburgh Steelers.