Kickers are like umpires. If you’re hearing their names a lot, they’re probably not doing a particularly good job.
That’s been the case this season for Stephen Gostkowski, who missed three field goals and two extra points over the New England Patriots’ first seven games this season after being one of the NFL’s most reliable kickers for the better part of the last decade.
While the Patriots expressed nothing but support for Gostkowski, the grumbling about his uncharacteristically poor performance grew louder as more and more of his kicks sailed wide of the uprights.
His performance Sunday should quell some of that panic.
Gostkowski was a perfect 7-for-7 on kicks during the Patriots’ 41-25 win over the Buffalo Bills, converting five extra points and two field goals in wet and windy weather at Buffalo’s New Era Field. His 51-yard field goal in the final moments of the first half was the second-longest he’s kicked this season behind a 53-yarder against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 1.
After the game, Patriots coach Bill Belichick said the team never lost faith in Gostkowski, who hadn’t been himself since shanking an extra point in last season’s AFC Championship Game.
“Steve is one of the best kickers in the league,” Belichick told reporters. “We have a lot of confidence in him. When we need a kick, there’s nobody I’d rather send out there than Steve.”
Gostkowski’s flawless showing was part of the most productive game of the season for the Patriots’ offense. Its 41 points were the most New England had scored since Week 3 of last season, and quarterback Tom Brady tossed four touchdown passes to four different receivers in the win.
Brady has 12 touchdown passes and zero interceptions in four games since returning from his Deflategate suspension, and the Patriots have won all four by double digits.
“It’s a good team win,” Gostkowski told reporters, via the Providence Journal. “It’s nice to have a clean game. It’s just one game. Just glad we won and going into the bye week with some positive vibes.”
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images