FOXBORO, Mass. — Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski has been exceptionally accurate in late-game situations.
Gostkowski has made 33 consecutive fourth-quarter field goals, including a pair Sunday against the Jets, and the only fourth-quarter miss of his career was actually blocked in the second game of his NFL life.
While Gostkowski said he doesn't try to get caught up in stats, he admitted his success in the fourth quarter comes from an increased level of concentration.
"Your concentration just increases in the fourth quarter," Gostkowski said. "Obviously, if you miss a kick in the first quarter, you have the opportunity to come back and make one and still impact the game positively. In the fourth quarter, it's now or never. I try to have that same concentration throughout the whole game, but it's a little bit easier in the fourth quarter when you know you're probably not going to get any more opportunities. I try to be good the whole game, but if I had to choose a quarter, I'd rather be good in the fourth quarter."
Gostkowski has made 34 of 35 field goals in the fourth quarter (97.1 percent), which is the best split of his career. He has made 22 of 27 in the first quarter (81.5 percent), 52 of 62 in the second quarter (83.9 percent) and 12 of 18 in the third quarter (66.7 percent). The sixth-year kicker has also made his only overtime attempt.
Gostkowski noted he's been fortunate through certain situations, too, and he can't control the circumstances in which he kicks. He used the 2008 game in Buffalo as an example, saying his stats would have taken a bit of a hit if he attempted a few field goals in 70 mph winds.
As far as distance is concerned, Gostkowski has kicked 14 fourth-quarter field goals from 20-29 yards, 12 from 30-39 yards and seven from 40-plus.
Also, five of those field goals tied the game. He has also kicked three go-ahead field goals in the fourth quarter in the playoffs.
"As a specialist, you take advantage of the opportunities you get," Gostkowski said. "You can't make your own opportunities. Some guys get to kick a lot of long field goals. Some guys get to kick a lot of game-winning field goals. You can't put yourself in those situations. You just have to take advantage of them when you get them. The opportunities I've gotten, I've tried to take advantage of them to help the team win. It's easy being on a good team that expects to win and knows how to win, and it makes it easier for me to go out and do my job when everybody else is succeeding at theirs."