FOXBORO, Mass. — Stephen Gostkowski’s missed extra point certainly was a factor in the New England Patriots’ 20-18 loss to the Denver Broncos in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game, but he isn’t the only one shouldering the blame.
After all, football is a team game, and Sunday was a collective effort of players and coaches not being at their best.
Memories of Gostkowski’s first missed extra-point attempt since 2006 won’t go away overnight, but the responsibility doesn’t rest solely at his feet, Patriots coach Bill Belichick insisted Monday at his season-ending press conference.
“Steve’s a great kicker,” Belichick said. “He had a great year for us. And as I said at the beginning, I think every player and coach who participated in this game wished there were a couple of things they could have done differently. I feel that way, everybody I’ve talked to feels that way. I can’t imagine anybody who participated in that game doesn’t feel that way.”
Gostkowski appeared to feel that way after the loss, calling it “a nightmare scenario” and saying he feels like he “let a lot of people down.” But his head coach reiterated that one person isn’t responsible for the season coming to an abrupt end.
“I think we all feel that way,” Belichick said. “I feel like it’s my fault, and I’m sure all the players who played feel like it’s their faults.”
The fact remains Gostkowski has been one of the most reliable NFL kickers since his rookie year in 2006, which also was the last time he had missed an extra point.
His 52 made extra points were the the third-most in the NFL this season, and he was one of only nine players who made 100 percent of their point-after attempts. That, of course, is a significant percentage with the length of extra points changing to 33 yards this season.
So how does Belichick feel about that specific rule change, especially considering how much of a factor extra points were Sunday?
“Whatever the rules are, we play by them,” Belichick said. “We don’t make the rules. Those are decided by the league, and whatever they are, they are. Whatever changes they make, they make.”
He added: “That’s not really something for me to decide. (I) just try to coach the team and do the best job I can for the New England Patriots.”
Regardless of Belichick’s feelings on the rule, he did make one thing clear: Not reaching Super Bowl 50 wasn’t any single player or coach’s fault.
Thumbnail photo via Chris Humphreys/USA TODAY Sports Images