FOXBORO – Stephen Gostkowski’s been arguably the best kicker in football over the past three seasons. But so far this year, it’s been a struggle. Going into Sunday’s game against the Bengals, Gostkowski had missed three field goals in five games.
How uncommon was that? He’d missed eight in his previous 48 regular-season games, three total misses in both 2013 and 2015 and two in 2014.
Sunday, even though he made a 46-yarder earlier, his missed an extra point in the third quarter after a James White touchdown. He barely squeezed through a 31-yard field goal in the fourth.
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“For me, that’s inexcusable to miss a kick like that,” Gostkowski said of the extra point. "For me, I’ve had a few missed swings this year and I’m just trying to go out there and do my best to tighten it up. Sometimes you get lucky, sometimes you get unlucky, sometimes you’re just not as good as you need to be. I’m just trying to get to a point where I’m a consistent player on this team. That’s all I work for.”
It’s safe now to call Gostkowski’s start to this season a slump. He just doesn’t miss this often. He knows that.
“Sometimes you just can’t explain how and why things happen,” he said. “At the end of the day, we won. Got the game started off with a nice kick, had some good kickoffs. I just need to focus on the positives instead of dwelling on the negatives. It’s part of the game as a kicker, when you screw up, everybody notices you.”
The miss that may have started this skid could have been in the AFC Championship Game last season at Denver when Gostkowski missed his first extra point since 2006. Sunday, he missed his first regular season PAT since then.
“There’s still time,” he said. “I’ll do my best to straighten ‘em out. That’s the way the cookie crumbles, my man. I’m just happy we’re winning.”
The time will inevitably come when Gostkowski’s called on for a true pressure kick. An end-of-game job that will have folks wringing hands about the outcome until it goes through. Or doesn’t. Such is the life of a kicker.