Clutch Gostkowski draws Belichick's praise

The New England Patriots have come from behind in each of their past three games, overcoming double-digit second-half deficits on each occasion.

Down by 10 or more points in the second half means the margin for error on both offense and defense is slim, and the same can be said in the kicking game.

Not to be overlooked in the recent weeks is the performance of kicker Stephen Gostkowski, who has field goals of 50, 53 and 53 yards to go along with a perfectly executed onside kick to give his team the ball and the chance to win on Sunday against Cleveland.

These kicks have been the latest in what has been a terrific season for the eighth-year pro, who has missed just two of 32 field goals and already has 125 points.

One could even argue that these two weeks have been as clutch as Gostkowski has performed at any point in his career, and they earned him heavy praise from coach Bill Belichick during a Tuesday conference call.

"He’s had a couple of pretty clutch weeks," he said. "I think it would be hard to be much more clutch than that. I think you hit it on the head. So much of whatever a kicker does is just based on opportunity. You don’t know -- you have to be ready but you don’t know when you come to the stadium whether you’re going to be kicking field goals, kicking extra points, not kicking at all, onside kicking and so forth. Some of that is just by opportunity. You get into game-winning situations or onside kick situations -- when is the last time we’ve onside kicked like that?

"So, it’s infrequent but when it comes up, it means everything," Belichick continued. "That’s really all the more impressive. I think part of it for Steve is just not only did he get it done, but it was a very infrequent play and it was at the most critical time and without it, we wouldn’t have won. All those things are impressive."