Patriots

Gostkowski: 'I stink right now...That's just the bottom line'

Gostkowski: 'I stink right now...That's just the bottom line'

Stephen Gostkowski is one of the most successful kickers in NFL history, and he's currently the higest-paid kicker in the league. He has set a certain standard for himself, and he told reporters on Sunday that he's not reaching it. 

Gostkowski spoke to members of the media after missing one of the four extra points he attempted in New England's 27-16 win over Pittsburgh. It was the second consecutive game in which Gostkowski missed a point-after try.

"I'm not happy with the way I'm playing," he said. "Mechanically, I need to be better. Just not playing good enough for this team right now. Keep my head down and keep working. I'm putting the work in. I'm trying the best I can. Need to figure out how to switch it up so I can be more consistent."

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He added: "I don't really talk about reasons why I make or miss a kick. No one knows, nor cares to understand. I stink right now. That's just the bottom line. It'd be nice to be able to enjoy these wins a little more with the team. But it's not about me. The team's played great. Luckily the team keeps picking me up, I guess."

Gostkowski has now missed five kicks on the year, including field goals against the Miami, Buffalo and Cleveland.

"Obviously there's something going on and I'm gonna work my hardest to fix it," he said. "That's all I do. This is my job, I take it seriously. No one feels worse about screwing up than I do. It stinks to come in when you win and that's all you talk about is the one bad play you had. But that's the nature of the position. You deal with it . . .

"I've always held my head high, and I will always go out there with confidence, no matter if I miss 100 in a row so that's just the way I'm put together. I'm gonna keep working hard to do the best. Talk about a few feet here or there, we're not having the conversation. Just gotta tighten it up and be more consistent."

Patriots coach Bill Belichick made it sound as though he was not all that concerned with his All-Pro kicker after the game, and he noted that Steelers kicker Chris Boswell missed two field goals on the afternoon.

"Nobody works harder than Steve does," Belichick said. "Steve's a very talented player. He's mentally tough. He's a good football player. We'll work through it. We'll work through it. Again, this is a tough place to kick. Not making any excuses. Those are kicks that -- I don't know what he expressed -- but the kicker on the other side of the field had trouble too. It's tough, but we gotta make 'em."

Gostkowski was asked if he was at a point with his confidence where he still wanted to take crucial kicks late in games.

"I always want to help the team win," he said. "I'm not scared to screw up. I've screwed up plenty of times in my career. Just kind of piling on right now. At my position, you only get so many opportunities. That's part of it mentally is taking advantage of the opportunities you get. I know that's the deal coming in. It's not like a news flash. This is my eleventh year doing it. Right now I just stink, and I need to figure out how to get better. It's just not working out. Kind of piling on, but I'm gonna hold my head high, keep working hard, keep doing the best I can as long as I keep getting the opportunities."

Gostkowski did not get into any of the mechanical issues he might be dealing with, and he did not explain whether or not he sees a kicking coach to help him with his form. Though this would certainly qualify as one of the most difficult stretches of his professional career -- if not the most difficult -- he said he's dealt with bad spurts of play in the past, and he's hoping to come out of this one soon.

"Being a professional athlete is tough," he said. "When you're doing good or you're doing bad. A position like mine, there's no hiding when you screw up. It's just part of it. You gotta learn to roll with the punches. I've seen guys that have been really good have tough stretches, and I've seen guys come out of them. I mean, I've played bad before. You play long enough, you're going to have stuff like this. Just timing-wise it just kind of stinks. If there was one thing to point to to fix it I would've done it by now. But I need to be better."

Injury report: Branch out, 10 Patriots questionable

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Injury report: Branch out, 10 Patriots questionable

The Patriots final injury report before their showdown with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday includes 10 players listed as questionable and defensive lineman Alan Branch ruled out.

Branch, who hurt his knee in the Monday night loss to the Dolphins, missed three days of practice this week. Among the questionable are linebacker Kyle Van Noy and defensive lineman Trey Flowers, who didn't play against Miami. Tom Brady (Achilles), Brandon Cooks (hand) and Malcolm Butler (ankle) have been removed from the injury report. 

Cornerback Joe Haden (fibula) and wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (hamstring) among the Steelers listed as questionable. The full injury report:

Gronkowski quickly puts suspension behind him

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Gronkowski quickly puts suspension behind him

FOXBORO — Rob Gronkowski was not focused on the past or a lengthy press conference Friday. 

Speaking with the media for the first time since being handed a one-game suspension for his hit on Tre’Davious White two weeks ago, Gronkowski spoke for less than 2 1/2 minutes before declaring, “I’m out” and leaving the podium. 

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“I definitely learned about it, but I’m not really here right now [to talk about that],” Gronkowski said. “With the game Sunday, the Pittsburgh Steelers, I’m just putting my focus on them right now. Definitely learned from the mistake that I made, for sure a couple weeks ago, the last game I played in, but we’ve got a huge game this Sunday. We’ve got a huge game as a team this Sunday, so I’m just putting all my focus into the Steelers this week.” 

The veteran tight end said that he was glad to be back practicing and playing, but tried to shift the conversation back to the Steelers when asked about the suspension. He declined to share whether he reached out to White after the late hit. 

Gronkowski’s return will be a welcomed sight for a Patriots offense that struggled last week without him. Tom Brady played his worst game of the season, completing 24 of 43 passes for 233 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions in New England’s loss to the Dolphins.