MEXICO CITY — New England Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski started with a hitting analogy, moved to golf but didn’t quite bite on pitching when asked about his franchise-record 62-yard field goal Sunday night.
It was certainly one of the better kicks of Gostkowski’s career given the distance and circumstance. The Patriots got the ball back with 33 seconds left in the second half after linebacker Marquis Flowers forced a fumble and safety Patrick Chung recovered it.
The Patriots then marched 48 yards down the field for Gostkowski to attempt the 62-yarder. It’s unlikely he would have been given the opportunity had the game not been played at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City at 7,200 feet above sea level.
“It was cool to get the opportunity,” Gostkowski said. “The offense did a great job of getting me enough room. I think every time I’ve kicked a long kick, (tight end Rob Gronkowski) makes the catch right beforehand. So it’s a nice little Polish connection. It was cool. With kicking, you can wait your whole career and never get a shot like that, and you have t0 be very patient. It’s a very opportunistic job. And you’re only as good as the opportunities you get. I got a good opportunity, and I’m glad I took advantage of it.”
Gostkowski had attempted a 60-yard field goal in warmups and had confidence he could boot a longer kick in the game given the distance of the practice shot.
“I made it by a good bit, so I knew that coming up short, if I hit it good, probably wasn’t going to happen,” Gostkowski said. “The ball, warm weather, altitude, the ball’s going to fly. I was just really concentrating on getting a good foot on it, and making sure it stays straight enough. I got the opportunity, took advantage of it, and it was exciting for the whole team.”
So, how does baseball factor into this?
“The hardest thing about kicking when you’re in Denver or where the ball carries really well is to not try to hit the home run ball, because they don’t give you extra credit if it goes in by 10, 15-yards,” he said. “You just get three points if it goes in. I had a good plan of attack to not try to over kick and kill every ball, and it worked out for me.”
“If you swing as hard as you can, you’re more likely to have the ball go in different directions,” Gostkowski said. “Every once in a while you’ll line up and — I hit that one really good. I swung pretty hard. But that’s not a swing you can consistently do and survive. You swing it as hard as you can as long as you can stay in control.”
Gostkowski was a pitcher in college but didn’t go for the hat trick of sports analogies to kicking.
“I think a lot of sports, the harder you try to do something, it doesn’t really go how you want it to, I think,” Gostkowski said. “Being smooth is better than trying to kick it as hard as you can. You have to be under control. As long as I can swing hardest under control, I have a good shot.”
Thumbnail photo via Orlando Ramirez/USA TODAY Sports Images