Chris Bowell’s ‘ugly’ kick a big boost for Steelers
The moment that worried Chris Boswell wasn’t when the Steelers asked him to make the longest field goal of his career or when the Green Bay Packers tried to ice him.
It was after his winning kick, when teammates Maurkice Pouncey and Robert Golden lifted him onto their shoulders.
“It reminded me of (former Cardinals kicker Bill) Gramatica, when he was hurt celebrating,” Boswell said, “so I just wanted to be down ASAP.”
Boswell was carried off the field after he kicked his second game-winner in three weeks, a 53-yard field goal as time expired Sunday night to defeat the Packers, 31-28, at Heinz Field. The kick toward the closed end tied the longest NFL field goal in the stadium’s history, a 53-yarder that Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey made last season.
“I knew I hit it good,” Boswell said. “It was an ugly kick. It was a knuckleball, but it hung in there and went through. That’s all that matters.”
Boswell kicked a 33 yarder two weeks ago in Indianapolis to defeat the Colts, 20-17.
He’s now made 4 of 6 attempts from 50 yards or longer in his three-year career — with all four makes at Heinz Field. His previous long was a pair of 51-yarders in 2015. He kicked a 50-yarder this season against Tennessee.
“Fifty-three obviously a long kick,” Boswell said, “but compared to other stadiums, it’s nowhere near the top. It’s a difficult stadium to kick in but a lot of people don’t try to kick that far in this stadium because they know how hard it is.”
The Steelers moved 35 yards in three plays Sunday to put Boswell in position for the field goal try. The first was a foot-dragging, 23-yard catch by Antonio Brown that needed instant replay to prove he was inbounds. Brown caught a 14-yarder on the second snap. On the third play, LeVeon Bell was tackled for a two-yard loss, moving the ball backward from the 33 to the 35.
“I just asked (special teams) coach Danny (Smith) and Bos what yard line he wanted,” quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. “We were close. I hated the last play. I threw it to Le’Veon. It’s hard to tell yourself not to throw it to an open guy. I should have thrown it into the ground. But we got it to where Bos felt comfortable. Danny said 32 to 35.”
The short loss didn’t bother Boswell.
“Two yards isn’t going to make that big of a difference,” he said. “You’ve just got to kick the same ball.”
In the third quarter, Packers kicker Mason Crosby had attempted a 57-yarder in the same direction but his kick missed wide left.
“That’s a hard kick and the wind was pushing from right to left,” Boswell said. “If you noticed my kick was starting to move at the end because it wasn’t a clean ball.”
When Boswell readied for his attempt, he played the wind a little.
“You have to when it’s that far, but you try not to,” he said. “You kind of aim a little far right and expect it to move a little bit.”
And then came the celebration.
“I got my head smashed in for a good 30 seconds,” said Boswell, who was happy to be picked up at that moment. “As soon as I’m on top of the shoulders, no one’s dog piling on me. It was all in good fun.”
Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.