When the Steelers got the ball in Cleveland twice during the last five minutes in a tie game, did you ever have a doubt that Chris Boswell would boot it in if the offense could get him close enough?
No. Neither did I.
That’s because Chris Boswell has redefined what it means to be “Mr. Automatic.” And for that Chris Boswell wins 2023 Thanksgiving Honors.
Crisis Opens the Door to Opportunity
The NFL lexicon is littered with clichés. Not For Long. You’re hired to be fired (ask Matt Canada about that one.) Another is that one man’s misfortune is another man’s opportunity.
- In Chris Boswell’s case, 3 men’s misfortunes combined to open his door to opportunity.
The Steelers started the 2015 preseason thinking they were set at place kicker, behind the trusty leg of Shaun Suisham. But Suisham injured himself on the terrible truf in the Hall of Fame Game at Canton, Ohio.
So the Steelers signed Garrett Hartley. Perhaps it’s fitting that the Rooney family is known for their Catholicism, because Garrett Hartley is kind of the Pope John Paul I in the Steelers kicking Parthenon. We never got to know him, because he got injured at the end of free agency.
Kevin Colbert sprung into action and traded for Josh Scobee. Scobee started out OK, but missed an extra point in week 2 against San Francisco. He was OK in week two, but in week 3 against the Baltimore Ravens he missed two field goals in the last 2 and half minutes of regulation of a tie game.
The Steeler won the toss in over time, but on 4th and 2 from the Ravens 39, Mike Tomlin opted to run it with Mike Vick. The Steelers got the ball back, but again on 4th and won Tomlin opted to let Vick try to hook up with Antonio Brown.
- The two failed to connect and 8 plays later Justin Tucker won it for the Ravens.
The Steelers sign Chris Boswell a few days later, and haven’t looked back since.
Boswell Best in Long Line of Excellent Steelers Place Kickers
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was recently asked about Chris Boswell, and responded:
Its automatic. I’ve been really blessed here in the time that I’ve been here. I’ve been here a long time and essentially had three kickers. That continuity, that ability to deliver with a high level of consistency, we don’t talk about it enough, but its appreciated.
The only issue with Mike Tomlin’s statement is that it isn’t inclusive enough.
Pittsburgh Steelers fans have been blessed with excellent place kickers since the 1980s. In his day, Gary Anderson was known as “Mr. Automatic,” and Jerry Glanville can tell you just what that means. Norm Johnson succeeded Anderson, and his role in Steelers place kicking lineage is under rated. After an interregnum covered by Kris Brown and Todd Peterson, Jeff Reed took the mantel in the middle of 2002 and remained with the team until the middle of 2010.
- But if you compare the numbers it wouldn’t take long to see that Chris Boswell is best of all.
Bob Labriola provided the stats on the Steelers elite place kickers and Boswell just about leads them all almost every key metric. Suisham’s career field goal percentage is still a hair higher than Boswell’s, but Boswell has improved in the 3 weeks since Labriola published his numbers.
More importantly, Boswell’s been perfect in the playoffs. Indeed, he kicked the game winner on a ucky, rainy night in Cincinnati following some late game heroics from Ryan Shazier and Ben Roethlisberger. And it was Boswell’s boot that put the Steelers into the AFC Championship in 2016.
Yes, Steelers fans really should give thanks for Chris Boswell.
A Word on Steelers Thanksgiving Honors
“Steelers Thanksgiving Honors” is a home-grown award here at Steel Curtain Rising. The tradition began during 2009’s five game losing streak and the first award winner was Rashard Mendenhall, who’d picked himself up off the turf and ran nearly the length of the field to prevent an interception and a pick six.
And we’ve continued this each since. Here are previous winners:
2009 – Rashard Mendenhall
2010 – Marukice Pouncey, Emmanuel Sanders, Al Everest
2011 – Antonio Brown
2012 – Keenan Lewis
2013 – Cam Heyward
2014 – Le’Veon Bell
2015 – “The Understudies” – Alejandro Villanueva, DeAngelo Williams, Will Allen, Cody Wallace
2016 – Ryan Shazier
2017 – Ben Roethlisberger
2018 – JuJu Smith-Schuster
2019 – Kevin Colbert
2020 – T.J. Watt
2021 – Cam Heyward (second time)
2022 – Larry Ogunjobi
As always we close with a reminder that it is our hope that everyone reading this has many, many reasons to be thankful that have nothing to do with the Steelers or football.
Happy Thanksgiving Steelers Nation.