The New England Patriots entered Thursday night needing Tom Brady to carry them to a victory in Tampa – or so we assumed. Brady played well enough – 30-of-40 for 303 yards, one touchdown and one interception – but without Stephen Gostkowski, New England would likely be 2-3, not 3-2.
Gostkowski was a perfect 4-of-4 on field goals, leading the Patriots to a 19-14 win.
“As a specialist, you can’t ask for much more than some opportunities like that to have an impact on the game,” Gostkowski said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “So I’m just very grateful to have the opportunity and for our team to go home winners.”
Gostkowski hasn’t missed a field goal this season. He’s a perfect 12-of-12 through five games and hit a clutch 48-yarder in the final minutes against the Buccaneers (2-2).
“It’s fun. When you get on a roll, you just try to ride the wave as long as you can,” Gostkowski said. “If you do slip up, you just try to get right back on the horse. Kicking is a very mental game. You just try to ride that wave when it’s going good. To be able to make a kick at the end of the game, that shows your team that you have a little bit of mental toughness (to not let the moment get too big). It’s really fun to make those kicks. Because for every one kick I kick in the game, I’ve probably kicked thousands in practice. So it’s nice and rewarding when it turns out in your favor.”
Nick Folk wouldn’t know. He missed three field goals on the night, including a 31-yarder in the fourth quarter that would have made it a one-score game.
“It’s a tough job when it’s not going well,” Gostkowski said. “I’m glad we won, but I never want to see it like that. Nick’s been a great kicker in this league. I’ve missed a kick that I feel has cost us games, whether it’s in NFL, college, high school. You definitely lose sleep over it. That’s part of it. That’s part of the mental toughness to try to pick yourself up and go out and try to make it the next time. It’s one of those jobs where everyone knows it when you screw up and there’s no avoiding it. It’s the easiest job in sports to point the finger at. Hopefully he’ll be able to turn it around, but at the end of the day, I’m definitely glad the Patriots came away with the win.”
Tampa Bay had a chance to win on the final play, but Jameis Winston’s pass to O.J. Howard was incomplete. Gostkowski wasn’t surprised that the Bucs went the length of the field in just over a minute.
“The teams are too good in this league to roll over and not make it competitive,” he said. “The defense stepped up big at the end there.”
They’ll try to do it again next Sunday, when the Patriots face the Jets (2-2) in East Rutherford. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. ET.