When Stephen Gostkowski walks onto the field during Super Bowl XLVI, he won't just be walking under the weight of his 6-foot-1, 215-pound frame. He may very well be carrying the entire weight of Patriots Nation on his right foot, the hopes and dreams of a franchise and fan base waiting and watching his every move.
Every Super Bowl of the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady era in New England has been decided by three points. Adam Vinatieri came through with dramatic last-second kicks to seal the win for the Patriots in two of those, and that's not lost on the Patriots' current kicker.
"You are ready every game," Gostkowski explained when asked about the close nature of the team's recent Super Bowls. "We won last week by three points. We have won other games by three points. I just don't worry about any moment. I just worry about kicking well."
Patriots history has shown that kickers can become legends on Super Sunday. Or, they can become goats. For every Adam Vinatieri, there's a Scott Norwood or a Billy Cundiff, with the latter missing a 32-yard field goal to help get the Patriots to the Super Bowl.
It will be tough enough to settle for field goals on Sunday with the two high-octane offenses taking the field in Indianapolis. It would be even tougher if a missed field goal results in zero points for a drive instead of three.
Gostkowski has been perfect so far in close games during the fourth quarter, hitting all three of his late-game attempts with the game within seven points. But the Super Bowl is an entirely different beast, and here's hoping Gostkowski will be ready to tame it.