There’s no denying how important special teams can be during an NFL game — just look at the Week 7 game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Seattle Seahawks. Kickers Chandler Catanzaro and Steven Hauschka were on at the beginning of the game, but when it came to two short overtime field goals, they both missed — and the game ended in a 6-6 tie.
The Pittsburgh Steelers know about the importance of special teams — and, especially, kickers — after a disastrous start to last season. In previous seasons, Shaun Suisham had been very consistent, but a preseason injury forced him out. So the Steelers had to try two kickers — Garrett Hartley and Josh Scobee — before they finally found their “diamond in the rough” with Chris Boswell.
Last season, Boswell made 29/32 field goals and added seven more converted field goals in the playoffs, which tied a Steelers franchise record. This season, Boswell has converted 7/10 field goal attempts and has converted all 19 of his extra point attempts. His missed field goals came against the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles.
Jordan Berry has also been huge for the Steelers on special teams. The punter, who hails from Australia, has been stellar this season. Berry averages 45.8 yards per punt, and his longest was a 63-yard punt against the Eagles. Berry has forced opposing offenses inside their own 20-yard line a total of 13 times this season.
Last season, Berry forced offenses inside their own 20 a total of 28 times. His longest punt was a booming 79 yards and his average was close to what it is this year: 42.6 yards per punt.
Special teams has never garnered the majority of the focus in the NFL. There’s the saying that defense wins championships and that the offense helps, but there’s no mention of special teams. The Steelers, who also have Greg Warren as their veteran long snapper, won’t have to worry about their special teams players.
The consistency is there in Pittsburgh, despite the two missed field goals against New England from Boswell.
The Steelers will certainly need Boswell’s leg and Berry’s ability to pin offenses inside their 20-yard line when they travel to Baltimore for a big AFC North match against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, Nov. 6.
Image credit: Gene J. Puskar/AP Photo