Boswell: 'Just kick the football'

Posted Mar 1, 2016

Kicker Chris Boswell learned to focus on what's important last season.

It was a situation nobody could have dreamt of when the Steelers reported to training camp last July.

In the first preseason game, the Pro Football Hall of Fame game, a bonus preseason game, and kicker Shaun Suisham ties to make a tackle on a kickoff and boom, injures his knee and is out for the year.

Cue kicker number two, veteran free agent Garrett Hartley, on a season that barely arrived. Hartley made it through a handful of preseason games, getting off to a good start, before he too was ruled out for the season, his reason a hamstring injury.

The Steelers then traded for Josh Scobee, but after he missed two crucial field goals in a loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the regular season he was released.

Enter Chris Boswell. A young kicker brought in for a tryout at Heinz Field. Not a name anyone really knew as the first year kicker didn’t come with the type of resume that Scobee did. And maybe that was a good thing.

The fourth kicker less than a month into the season had to come with pressure, right.

“I didn’t think about it,” said Boswell. “I looked at it as my first opportunity to kick for a team. That’s all I focused on. I didn’t think about the kickers before me.

“I went in there hoping to do my best, hoping my best showed up that day (of the tryout). I kicked really well. All the drill work and stuff leading up to that, the tryout I had before that prepped me for that. I had nothing to lose. It was land the job or go back home. I just thought let it all go. It allowed me not to care what happened. As a kicker when you don’t care better things happen. When you care you tend to make yourself miss.”

While he might not have ‘cared,’ in that sense, his teammates certainly did care. After he survived the tryout at Heinz Field, he had his biggest test. He had to kick at practice with his teammates all looking on, including a slightly intimidating James Harrison just a few steps behind him.

“It’s hard not to notice him,” said Boswell. “That first practice was not nerve racking because when I start kicking I don’t think about anything. But that first day I think the entire team was behind me watching. I noticed James Harrison standing a few feet from me when I was kicking that first day. I saw him. I knew he was there. 

“I couldn’t focus on what he was doing to me. I had to focus on kicking field goals. I just had to think about what I had to do and get back to work. Later in the season people were on the sideline not caring about field goals.”

They didn’t care, because it didn’t take them long to have confidence in Boswell. He finished the season making 29 of 32 field goals and 26 of 27 extra points. No kick was bigger than his game winning field goal against the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Wild Card game.

While Steelers Nation has sung his praises all season, Boswell continually took it all in stride. He looked at it as just doing his job, learning valuable lessons along the way.

“I just learned to stay true to who you are,” said Boswell. “If you are a guy who finds a spot and kicks to it, do it every time. Don’t get out of what you do and what you have done. Just kick the football.”