McCrane left with ‘unreal feeling’ after kicking 3 field goals in Steelers debut
In one game, Matt McCrane did something that Chris Boswell never accomplished in 15 tries during the Pittsburgh Steelers season.
The rookie kicker, signed to a contract Friday after an injury to Boswell, converted three field goals in the Steelers’ 16-13 victory Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field.
McCrane made kicks of 39, 47 and 35 yards, the final one representing the go-ahead points with 1:56 left in the game.
“An unreal feeling,” McCrane said.
Thanks to McCrane, who is generously listed at 5-foot-10, 165 pounds, the Steelers avoided an upset loss to the Bengals, who entered as a two-touchdown underdog.
“I tell people all the time that I don’t get nervous and everybody gives me a hard time and says, ‘Everybody gets nervous,’” McCrane said. “But I try not to hype up the situation, but one kick is not more important than any other to me. I have to go out and put the ball through the uprights, that’s my job.”
Boswell was 13 of 20 in field-goal attempts for the worst conversion rate in his four-year NFL career. Boswell made two fields goals in a game just three times this season – and just once in the second half of the year.
McCrane got the call Thursday to fly to Pittsburgh, and he signed a two-year contract on Friday. With McCrane under contract for 2019, the Steelers need to decide whether to bring both kickers to training camp.
Boswell is due a $2 million roster bonus in March.
“Of course, in the National Football League and nothing is guaranteed, so we’ll see what happens and what their plan is,” McCrane said. “If they want me to stay behind and learn from Boz … I’m going to pick his brain and learn from him because he’s one of the best to play the game.”
After pregame warmups, McCrane told coach Mike Tomlin that he felt comfortable making a kick inside of 55 yards. Then, he barely squeezed his 47-yarder over the crossbar to give the Steelers a 13-10 lead in the fourth quarter.
“I think he was a little bit worried,” McCrane said. “I have some work to do in the offseason, some strength to gain and some weight to develop and get prepared for next season.”
McCrane is confident that thanks to his performance Sunday, he’ll be on some NFL roster in 2019.
“Obviously, Pittsburgh would be an outstanding place to stay,” he said. “I’m not sure what is going to happen.”
Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @tribjoerutter.