PITTSBURGH -- Justin Tucker is regarded as the NFL's best kicker, but Cam Heyward wants Chris Boswell to start getting more due. With the Steelers fighting to stay ahead of the visiting Bears on Monday night, Boswell converted on field goals of 54, 52 and 40 yards during the fourth quarter. His final field goal with 26 seconds left were the deciding points in the Steelers' 29-27 victory.
Heyward did everything but mention Tucker by name when asked about his kicker during his postgame press conference. Heyward also created a memorable line when asked about Boswell's calmness in the clutch.
"Boz is a serial killer. He's too calm in some situations," Heyward said. "I love Boz's demeanor. The moment is never too big for him. I know everybody talks about the guy in Baltimore. He's a great kicker. Boz is a great kicker as well. We always tease him, they're 1A and 1B. Boz is yet to prove that he's 1B."
The Steelers were certainly happy to have Boswell back after the seven-year veteran spent most of the past week in the league's concussion protocol. Boswell missed the entire second half of Pittsburgh's Week 8 win over the Browns when he was tackled hard after a botched fake field goal attempt.
"It was a rough half," Heyward said of the experience. "I've been on the side where we haven't had kickers, whether that was by injury or bringing in some kickers that couldn't kick. Having Boz is pretty nice."
Issues at kicker is what ultimately led to Boswell coming to Pittsburgh. A career-ending injury to Shaun Suisham during the 2015 season left the Steelers scrambling for a new kicker. Pittsburgh was about to sign veteran Josh Scobee, but they released him after four missed field goal attempts in the season's first four games. The Steelers held an in-season kicking tryout, which was won by Boswell.
Sans the 2018 season, Boswell has been nearly automatic. He has made each of his 16 career field goal attempts that include a record six conversations against the Chiefs in the 2016 playoffs. Since the start of the 2019 season, Boswell has made 94% of his attempts.
Part of Boswell's success this season can be attributed to the rapport he has developed with new long snapper Christian Kuntz and new holder/punter Pressley Harvin III. Kameron Canaday has been the Steelers long snapper since 2017. Jordan Berry, currently with the Vikings, had been Boswell's holder for his first six seasons.
"We've been working our tails off since July, and we've been really gelling together since camp started," Boswell said of his work with Kuntz and Harvin. "We put a lot of team reps together. Instead of kicking on the sticks, the three of us kick together. I was so used to Jordan holding for the last six years ... everyone holds the ball a little bit different, so we've put a lot of work in since camp started. We've come a long way together."
Boswell made a heads-up play after his second field goal made it a 23-13 game with less than 12 minutes left. He pounced on a fumble that was caused by teammate James Pierre. To the chagrin of at least one teammate, Boswell acknowledged that he took a "pretty good shot and got folded in half" after grabbing the loose pigskin.
"Boz needs to get the hell out of the way," Heyward said of the play. "We were that close to putting him back on the injury report."
Like all of the Steelers, Heyward's knows Boswell's value. He also knows that Boswell will continue to carry the same demeanor that has helped get him to this point.
"A kick is a kick," Boswell said about his game-winner. "There was a good breeze out there in the middle of the field in your face towards that end, and that's why Cairo [Santos] elected to go that way in the third and then with the wind at his back in the fourth. But a kick is a kick. There's going to be wind in every stadium we play unless it's indoors, obviously, and you just have to adjust and make a kick."