By: Ian Logue
Every good kicker experiences a moment of disappointment, but despite Sunday’s game ending miscue fans should reserve judgement on Stephen Gostkowski. (US Presswire)
Patriots fans may remember all the big moments Adam Vinatieri had here in New England, and the big ones outshined some of the early troubles even he experienced.
But even the great ones falter at some point, and they can either let it get the best of them or use it as motivation.
Vinatieri was once in Gostkowski’s shoes. He missed one from 10 yards closer for what would have been a 32-yard field goal in a 16-14 loss in Kansas City back in 1999, and it left him pretty broken up following the contest.
“I could probably go out there and hit a hundred in a row right now,” said a clearly upset Vinatieri after the game to reporters. “I just didn’t hit one when I needed to.”
His then holder Lee Johnson came to his aid and blamed himself for the miss, claiming it was his hold that prevented Vinatieri from knocking it through.
“I got the ball caught on my thumb and I couldn’t get the laces around,” Johnson told the media after the game. “It was what I call a 3 o’clock lace, with the laces on the right side of the ball, and when that happens the kick usually goes wide right. Knowing Adam, he should hit that, but I just wanted everybody to know the hold was not up to my satisfaction.”
Either way it was a bad moment that most fans have forgotten about because of what he did two years later, and what he continued to do before he moved on to Indianapolis.
For Gostkowski, he probably now knows exactly how Vinatieri probably felt after his 42-yard kick sailed wide left and cost the Patriots a come from behind win over the Cardinals on Sunday. He hasn’t been asked to win too many games since taking over for the departed Vinatieri, but he’s converted 86% of his kicks over his career. That along with his big leg on kickoffs and his overall accuracy has always left the kicker position as one of the least worrisome on this football team.
Unfortunately he was dealt his first bit of adversity after the first big miss of his career, and he was disappointed with himself after it was over.
“You get opportunities like that not very often, and I’ve got to do a lot better job of coming through for the team,” Gostkowski told the Boston Herald. “We had a chance to win, and it came down to me, and I didn’t pull through. It stinks, and I feel bad for the fans and my teammates. I can’t take it back now. I went out there and felt good about the kick and just didn’t execute.”
According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, prior to Sunday Gostkowski had been perfect over the course of his career in the fourth quarter for the Patriots during the regular season. On Sunday prior to that kick he hit four field goals, including two from beyond 50 yards to even put them in that position. That one miss has sparked some discussion among fans who seem to forget about how good he’s been and how good he can potentially be.
For Vinatieri, that one moment turned out to be just a bump in the road for a career that has become legendary here in New England. Gostkowski has already been terrific during his tenure as a Patriot, but he hasn’t had too many instances where he’s needed to come up with a huge kick. Hopefully this one game makes him better, and like that miss back in 1999 for Vinatieri, hopefully this is one that gets buried behind some future great moments for Gostkowksi here in New England.