Chris Boswell entered Week 15 action with his job on the line, and nearly lost it before he redeemed himself.
The Steelers kicker missed a 32-yard attempt in the third quarter of Sunday’s showdown against the Patriots but helped secure a 17-10 victory with a 48-yard field goal in the final minutes of the game.
After the team brought in kickers to potentially replace Boswell last week, coach Mike Tomlin reaffirmed his faith in him.
“He’s our kicker from start to finish and I liked the way he came back and banged that next opportunity, and that is what this thing [football] is about,” Tomlin said after the game. “You are going to be tested, we are going to be tested, sometimes you are going to fail but you better pass enough of them.”
The Steelers flew in free-agent kickers Kai Forbath and Matt McCrane for a visit after Boswell botched a game-tying 40-yard attempt in the team’s Week 14 loss to the Raiders when his plant foot slipped. But the pressure prompted a stellar Thursday practice from Boswell that gave Tomlin the solace he needed before going into battle with New England.
“I made that decision when I walked into the stadium with him that he was our kicker and I wasn’t going to play that second-guessing game today,” Tomlin said. “We evaluated that process in a very thorough manner. Prior to going into the stadium we had a great deal of comfort with the route that we chose to take.”
Boswell, who signed a four-year contract extension worth $19.2 million in August, has botched 11 kicks this season, including seven field goals. Despite support from his team, he acknowledged he has to do better than his 61 percent field-goal conversion rate, which ranks second-worst in the league.
“Nothing’s forgiven,” Boswell said. “It’s kind of the nature of our business. You have to perform.”
The Steelers (8-5-1) will next visit the Saints (11-2) in Week 16 play.