PITTSBURGH — Plenty of professional football players are going through the 2019 offseason wishing they’d had a better go of it in 2018.
Steelers kicker Chris Boswell might be right up at the top of that last.
The 2017 Pro Bowler had built a stellar reputation in his first three seasons in the league, making 90 percent of his kicks and showing a knack for connecting on big kicks in late-game situations.
Last summer, the Steelers signed Boswell to a five-year contract worth $20 million, making him the fifth-highest paid kicker in the NFL.
Then came a 2018 season that couldn’t have gone any worse for Boswell.
He made just 13 of 20 (65%) on the season, and furthermore, missed several kicks in some critical losses as the Steelers slipped to 9-6-1 and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2013.
In the team’s six losses and one tie, Boswell was 6 for 11 (54.5%). Four of those games were decided by a field goal or less. Flip any into the win column, and the Steelers would have found themselves in the postseason.
Boswell spent the end of that run on the injured reserve, having been placed their after he went 2 for 2 in Week 15’s loss at New Orleans.
Speaking to reports at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on the South Side on Tuesday for the first time since then, Boswell didn’t want to talk about his injury or how it might have affected him during the 2018 season.
“That’s not something that is ever going to be shared,” Boswell said. “I had some long meetings with a lot of people and just kind of getting to the bottom of everything. I’m try to have a nice foundation going into camp and the season.”
He just wants to move on and focus on the ongoing battle to re-claim his starting position. Somewhat surprisingly, his plan to go about doing that is to do — exactly what he did last season.
“I’m going to stick to what I did going into my fourth year here,” Boswell said. “It didn’t work last year, but I’m not just going to scratch everything.”
There will be competition at the kicker position, but it won’t be the one most expected this offseason. Matt McCrane, who the Steelers signed after Boswell was put on the injured reserve, was released after rookie camp, leaving just UCF rookie Matthew Wright to compete with Boswell. Wright made 85.7% of his kicks as a senior with the Knights, but Boswell isn’t concerned about the nature of the competition.
He knows that if he can regain the form that led him to a Pro Bowl season and a hefty contract, the Steelers will stick by him. If he can’t, they probably won’t, whether it ends up being Wright or another kicker. That’s the competition that he’s focusing on as he prepares for 2019.
“No matter who’s out here, it’s me versus me, it’s not me versus anybody,” he said. “As long as I can conquer that, I should be pretty good.”
Ben Roethlisberger: ‘If They Decided to Trade Me I Would Probably Just Call it Quits’
Don’t expect a Tom Brady/Phillip Rivers/Peyton Manning situation ever developing between the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger.
Speaking with Bill Cowher on the NFL on CBS pregame show before the Steelers’ 26-21 victory over the Denver Broncos on Sunday, Roethlisberger made it clear that he isn’t interested in finishing out his career with a different franchise.
The interview, which ranged from Roethlisberger’s return in front of an empty NFL stadium, to his long road to recovery, ended with Cowher asking (if not downright pleading) for his former star quarterback to remain in Pittsburgh.
"This is home. I don't know anything but bleeding black and gold."
@Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger sits down with his former coach @CowherCBS to discuss his fight to get back in the game and his devotion to the Steelers organization. pic.twitter.com/A0Q7Yj2yBA
— NFLonCBS (@NFLonCBS) September 20, 2020
“You’re in your seventeenth year,” Cowher said. “Tom going to Tampa, we saw Phillip go to Indianapolis. Please tell me you’ll follow the footsteps of Hines Ward and Troy Polamalu and you will always be a Steeler. Can you go on record and say that?”
“I can most likely go on record and say that,” Roethlisberger said. “I have no plans on going anywhere. And I feel like even if they decided to trade me I would probably just call it quits. This is home. I don’t know anything but bleeding black and gold.
While anything can happen in the NFL, as clearly illustrated by Brady playing in Tampa Bay red and pewter this season, it doesn’t sound like Steelers fans should have any worries about where Roethlisberger’s loyalties lie.
From the Locker Room: Joe Haden says Steelers Looked to be Physical Despite Penalties
Steelers cornerback Joe Haden speaks with reporters, including Alan Saunders of Steelers Now, about the pass interference penalties against his team and the defense’s fourth-quarter stop in their 26-21 win over the Denver Broncos.
Joe Haden had an up and down day, recording an interception but also losing some one-on-one battles, most notably almost being beat for what would’ve been a sure touchdown until the receiver tripped.
Steelers Postgame Show: Turnovers, Big Plays Allow Steelers to Beat Broncos
It wasn’t exactly as pretty as some expected, but the Steelers managed to win nonetheless. Mike Asti and Matt Gajtka guided fans through a Steelers edition of Pittsburgh Postgame, discussing the 26-21 win over Denver and what needs to improve to keep the winning streak going.
How did Ben Roethlisberger look after another week of actual game play? Is James Conner back or are his week 2 numbers a bit misleading? What were the bright spots, as well as, weaknesses from the defense? Mike and Matt answered all those questions and much more immediately following the game.