By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Stephen Gostkowski hasn’t been a perfect kicker over his career. No kicker is. But in a National Football League where so many kickers have whiffed on so many crucial opportunities, the Patriots should feel fortunate to have someone as reliable as No. 3.
Gostkowski was perfect between the upright in the Patriots’ 43-40 win over the Chiefs, going 5-for-5 on field goals and 4-for-4 on extra points. His one blemish was an awkward mis-kick that looked like a failed attempt at a squib, which he described as simply “a bad kick.”
But the important part was what Gostkowski did when he had a chance to put points on the board for the Patriots. He scored all 19 points available to him in those spots.
If you don’t feel fortunate as a Patriots observer to have Gostkowski drilling kicks, Bill Belichick would disagree with you.
“Sometimes you take a guy like Steve for granted,” said Belichick during his Monday conference call. “He just goes out there and bangs them through consistently from short and long. He’s just done a really good job for us and last night, as many points as there were in that game, you don’t really think of three points as being that big but they really were, as you pointed out. Steve came through for us with five big kicks.”
Not that the final kick was a major hurdle. Gostkowski drilled the 28-yard chip shot, shorter than an extra point. His second-to-last kick, a 50-yarder to put the Patriots up 40-33, was probably his most clutch effort.
“I definitely felt in a groove on field goals tonight,” said Gostkowski after the win. “Games like this when you get a lot of opportunities, you feel very involved in the game. To me it makes the job easier. Sometimes the hardest games are when you’re sitting around and you don’t know when you’re going to go out there. I’m used to it because we score a lot of points, we have a great offense. You hit the first one and it goes right where you aimed, it’s easy to get on a roll when stuff like that happens.”
Gostkowski is now a perfect 20-for-20 on extra points through six games, and has only missed one field goal attempt (12-for-13). He’s not the only highly efficient kicker in the NFL this season; the guy on the other side Sunday night, the Chiefs’ Harrison Butker, has been perfect on both field goals and PATs.
But contrast Gostkowski with some of the other veteran kickers who have fallen on their faces in 2018. Green Bay’s Mason Crosby, once one of the league’s more reliable kickers, is a woeful 11-for-16 (68.8 percent) on field goal attempts after missing a whopping five kicks against the Lions in Week 5. Pittsburgh’s Chris Boswell is only 5-for-8 on FGs, and 16-for-19 on extra points. Even the Ravens’ Justin Tucker, widely considered perhaps the very best in the league, has missed a couple.
Gostkowski isn’t the only kicker you can rely upon to make kicks when he needs to. But any irrational concern over him, based on a handful of untimely misses sprinkled through his career, can’t even be considered real concern when you see what other teams are dealing with. Gostkowski has had some decidedly un-clutch moments in his career, but he’s never imploded into an all-out disaster.
Sunday night was Gostkowski at his best, and it came at a time where so many other teams’ kicking situations are collapsing around them. As clutch as everyone on offense was, Gostkowski’s consistency and dependability cannot be overlooked in a win where the Patriots needed every last point.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.