Steelers' Chris Boswell earns vote of confidence after late field goal

PITTSBURGH -- Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has his kicker's back, and it seems that will continue for the rest of the season.

After practicing to keep his job late last week because of struggles all year, Chris Boswell helped seal Sunday's 17-10 victory over the New England Patriots with a 48-yarder in the final minutes. He had missed a 32-yarder in the third quarter.

"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. "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."

Boswell has converted 11 of 18 (61.1 percent) field goals this season, leaving Pittsburgh in danger of becoming the first NFL team with a sub-60 percent kicking rate since the 2000 Bengals. He's also missed five extra points, though he made both Sunday.

The misses prompted the Steelers (8-5-1) to try out free agents Kai Forbath and Matt McCrane, applying pressure on Boswell to perform well in Thursday's practice, which he did.

Boswell, 27, said from his locker Sunday that Tomlin told him after the miss to keep his head up because he's going right back to him. The coach did just that on fourth-and-6 with 2 minutes, 30 seconds left and the Steelers holding a 14-10 lead.

"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 said the support from the team is rewarding, but he still has to perform better. Boswell became a Pro Bowler thanks to an 89.5 percent success rate on field goals (85-of-95) from 2015 to '17. That's what made his two ugly misses in a Week 14 loss to Oakland puzzling.

"Nothing's forgiven," said Boswell, who signed a five-year extension worth around $20 million in August. "It's kind of the nature of our business. You have to perform."

That won't stop teammates from trying to boost his confidence.

"He should be incredibly excited, because we are for him," quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. "We sent Bos out there and there was confidence. I believed he was going to make it. Obviously he believed in himself and he did it, and I'm proud of him for doing it and giving us a chance to win this game."