Gostkowski admits misses leave 'bad taste' despite Patriots win

Gostkowski admits misses leave 'bad taste' despite Patriots win

FOXBORO -- The Patriots have been an anomaly in this league for a long time. Coach, quarterback and. . . kicker. Whereas other teams change those positions with so much regularity it’s hard to know the players and coaches without a scorecard. The Pats have had Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and either Adam Vinateiri or Steven Gostkowski since 2001. That’s absurd. But while Belichick and Brady remain at the top of their professions, life has been a little more difficult for Gostkowski.

The Pats kicker since 2006, Gostkowski has seen his share of uneven performances, dating back to the 2nd half of the 2015 season - a season that ended in Denver in the AFC Championship Game. That game was defined - in part - by Gostkowski missing an extra point, forcing the Pats to chase points late that afternoon. That set off an odd season in 2016. 8 misses overall, 5 on field goals and 3 more on extra points. That’s not to say Gostkowski isn’t still as close to automatic as you get in this league. It’ s just to say he’s not infallible.

His pair of misses in Sunday’s 21-13 win over the Los Angeles Chargers made a game that shouldn’t have been as close as it was come down to the final play.


“Anytime I miss I have a bad taste in my mouth," Gostkowski said. “I’m glad we won. Things don’t always go perfect. I get upset and ticked off like anyone else but I’m not a moper or Debbie Downer. If you play long enough, they’ll be situations you’ll be put in. It’s kind of the nature of kicking. A lot of ups and downs. I just gotta maintain a positive attitude and keep my poise.”

Gostkowski did just that, rebounding from his 2nd miss to knock home a 26-yarder with just over a minute to play, and ended the day with four makes in six tries. But it’s those two misses that will stick with him much longer.

“It will stay with me this week, probably for two weeks until we play again (Sunday November 12th in Denver).”

Gostkowski’s first miss came on the opening drive of the 2nd half. Dion Lewis had made the Chargers pay for an offsides penalty on the kickoff, returning the re-kick 71 yards to the LA 25. The Pats offense couldn’t make the drive go anywhere and Gostkowski compounded the blown opportunity by mishitting a 43-yard attempt that went wide left.

The 33-year-old missed another 43-yarder early in the 4th quarter. The Pats embarked on a 16-play odyssey lasting nearly 8 minutes but when the drive stalled it was Gostkowski who elicited groans from the soggy crowd, starting his kick right and staying right of the left upright for his second miss. Gostkowski had been 16-of-17 on field goal attempts prior to the day.

“I aimed right down the middle on that one,” he said of his second miss. “It got pushed a little bit. The first one that I missed to the left, I didn’t get good rotation. The second one, I thought I hit pretty good but sometimes that happens.

“The first one that was a tough, not my best kick. I thought the second one I kicked, I put a good swing on it, maybe kicked it a little too hard into the wind. Sometimes you get a lot of spin on the ball and the wind is going to fight it more so you gotta hit a ball that has a little less rotation on it so it cuts through the wind a little better.”

I asked Gostkowski to follow up. Something about needing a “Kicking for Dummies” tutorial. What did he mean by rotation on the first kick, which was clearly wrong the moment it left his foot?

“You want the ball to be end over end and the wind was blowing to the right so I played it a little bit to the left and the rotation was left. Does that make sense?,” he asked as he explained. “Kind of a wobble - like a bow tie - and the wind is not going to take it. The wind will take it if there’s good rotation. That was a bad contact by me. If I had hit an over end rotation on that first one I missed I think that would have been a true kick. I just kind of hit it off my ankle.”

As for the wobble, in kicker-speak, Gostkowski explained it thusly, “the weight of the ball, I don’t want to get too in detail about the weight, but if all the momentum is going to the left like a weird rotation, it’s probably going to stay left. The wind was blowing to the right on that one I didn’t get the good - the right rotation. I hit it where I wanted to play it. I just didn’t have the right rotation and that’s most of the battle. When the conditions are tough you have to pretty much spot on perfect and that definitely wasn’t where I was at today.”

Gostkowski didn’t let the questions get to him, nor did he blame the elements. He put it on himself, and it’s that accountable - along with his accuracy - that has long made Gostkowski a favorite in that locker room and with the coach too. This was one of those days, but despite cries for competition, given his track record, it seems unlikely - even after a bad day at the office.


What Bill Belichick's pro day tour tells us about Patriots draft strategy

What Bill Belichick's pro day tour tells us about Patriots draft strategy

It’s one of the rites of spring. This is the time of year NFL fans across America overemphasize the importance of their team’s coach or general manager popping up at a particular program’s pro day. You can set your watch to it. 

Coach X showed up at University Y so you KNOW he wants Player Z!

The pro day circuit is just one aspect of the pre-draft preparation process for NFL clubs, though. The information gleaned from stops on college campuses through March and early April is, as Bill Belichick might say, just part of the evaluation mosaic. 

The tape matters. The combine matters. Private workouts matter. Official visits matter. Claiming a meeting or an interview between a player and a club at any one of these spots will dictate a draft-day match is foolhardy. 

Still . . . it's interesting to track teams’ whereabouts in order to see if any trends develop.

Here we'll lay out where the two primary players in the Patriots front office, Belichick and Nick Caserio, have been spotted over the last couple weeks since pro days kicked off. Their itinerary may be nothing but a sliver of a view into where the team's interests lay, but we’ll take that sliver with the understanding that it is what it is.


Belichick made his seemingly annual trip to the University of Alabama to catch up with old friend Nick Saban and see some of the college game's top prospects. The Crimson Tide could have more than a dozen players drafted, and most of their top prospects reside on the defensive side of the ball. Receiver Calvin Ridley, defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick and defensive tackle Da'Ron Payne shoild be long gone by the time the Patriots pick at No. 31, but there are plenty of other talented defenders they could have a shot at. Linebacker Rashaan Evans (6-foot-3, 234) would be an interesting fit for a defense that could use an addition to its second level. Defensive end Da'Shawn Hand (6-4, 297) is intriguing because of his versatility as a base end who could rush from the inside in sub situations. Safety Ronnie Harrison (6-3, 214) also seems like a Patriots type. Even punter JK Scott could be on their radar. 


Caserio headed to Wisconsin's pro day, where linebacker Jack Cichy posted a very strong short-shuttle (4.28 seconds) and three-cone times (7.10). He's an off-the-ball type who measured in at 6-foot-2, 234 pounds and is projected by to go on Day 3. The Badgers don't have quite as many pro prospects as Alabama, but they have seven or eight who could hear their names called on draft weekend. Corner Nick Nelson (5-11, 208) and edge defender Leon Jacobs (6-3, 230) were two of Wisconsin's best players, and would’ve been worth a look from the Patriots director of player personnel. 


Belichick kept a close eye on the defensive linemen participating in NC State's pro day Monday. Bradley Chubb is expected to be the first defensive player taken in the draft so the Patriots won't have a shot at him (which Belichick admitted to Chubb following the workout), but defensive tackle BJ Hill (6-4, 315) may have been of interest. He's thought of as a mid-rounder after a very strong showing at the Senior Bowl and a solid combine. Kentavius Street (6-2, 280) is really powerful as a defensive end and could be had toward the end of the draft. Belichick also reportedly spent some time watching backs Nyheim Hines (5-8, 197) and Jaylen Samuels (5-11, 233) run routes. 

Caserio, meanwhile, kept a close eye on the workout put together by Toledo quarterback Logan Woodside (6-2, 201). Our Mike Giardi put together a piece on Woodside, who tested well at the combine and is considered to have a good football IQ, earlier this offseason. Read it. Caserio was joined at Toledo by Patriots scout Patrick Stewart, who was also present for Richmond quarterback Kyle Lauletta's pro day.


Belichick went from NC State to South Carolina where he reportedly met with tight end Hayden Hurst for the second time. Hurst (6-4, 250), a walk-on who played two years of minor-league baseball, may be the first tight end taken in this year's draft. Linebacker Skai Moore (6-2, 221) was extremely productive for the Gamecocks, leading the team in tackles all four years of his career, which Belichick clearly appreciated. Moore told reporters after his pro day work out that he met with Belichick for an hour and that Belichick told him he's a great player. Belichick and Moore also met at the combine, Moore said.

So what can we make of Belichick and Caserio's stops thus far? We’re careful not to make too much of these stops visits, but here are some quick-hitting thoughts . . .

* They appear to want more information on the draft's second (or third) tier of quarterbacks. It should come as no surprise that the Patriots won't be in the running to select passers like USC's Sam Darnold, UCLA's Josh Rosen or Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield. But the group that includes Woodside, Lauletta and others -- perhaps Washington State's Luke Falk, whose pro day will be at Utah State on Mar. 28, Oklahoma State's Mason Rudolph, and Western Kentucky's Mike White -- seems to be of interest.

* Are the Patriots looking for their next playmaker at tight end? Even with Rob Gronkowski on the roster (assuming he returns in 2018) the Patriots could use another pass-catcher at this spot. Their interest in Hurst is intriguing. If they pop up at South Dakota State's pro day on Mar. 30 -- home of Dallas Goedert -- then that might be an indication they are considering a running mate and heir apparent for Gronkowski. 

* Outside of offensive tackle, off-the-ball linebacker might be the biggest need the Patriots have not addressed via trade or free agency this offseason. It would come as little surprise if they opted for a rookie (or two) who play that position in this year's draft. Evans is among the draft's most talented at that spot, but there are some questions around the league as to whether or not he'd be the traffic cop that, for instance, Jerod Mayo and Dont'a Hightower have been for the Patriots. Getting a closer look at Cichy and Moore would also seem to indicate that New England is taking a close look at a newer (smaller) breed at that spot. Belichick has long liked bigger linebackers, but as the speed of the game picks up perhaps he’ll be more open to going small(ish) here. The Patriots were represented at Viriginia Tech's pro day on Mar. 14 (home of top linebacker prospect Tremaine Edmunds) and it'll be interesting to see if they show up at Boise State (home of Leighton Vander Esch) on April 3. Belichick is reportedly headed to Georgia's pro day on Wednesday, where he'll have a chance to see athletic off-the-ball 'backer Roquan Smith and athletic edge player Lorenzo Carter. Either would immediately provide the Patriots front-seven with a shot of athleticism. 

* That Belichick has seen a boatload of talented defensive linemen at Alabama and NC State isn't a shocker. While they may not have a glaring need up front for 2018 — especially after trading for Danny Shelton and signing Adrian Clayborn — both Shelton and Malcom Brown could be elsewhere in 2019 if the Patriots don't pick up their fifth-year options. Trey Flowers is also headed into a contract year. 


Quick Slants the Podcast: Ranking the Patriots additions, are the Patriots better defensively, but worse offensively?

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Quick Slants the Podcast: Ranking the Patriots additions, are the Patriots better defensively, but worse offensively?

Tom E. Curran and Phil Perry go over the moves the Patriots have made this offseason and rank their favorite moves and what to expect from those players.

(1:00) Ranking the Patriots acquisitions so far.

(5:30) Will Danny Shelton or Jason McCourty have a bigger impact n the Patriots defense?

(13:00) What can Patriots fans realistically expect from Cordarrelle Patterson?

(16:00) Are the Patriots a better team now than they were at the end of the Super Bowl?

(17:00) What is the next position in need for the Patriots?

(23:00) How concerning is the tension level between Belichick/Brady/Gronkowski, when should Patriots fans start to panic?