FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Nearly eight months after Baltimore Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff missed a potential game-tying field goal in the AFC Championship game in January at Gillette Stadium, there was a reversal of fortunes for the New England Patriots on Sunday afternoon.
Leading 20-18, the Arizona Cardinals only needed to run out the clock with less than two minutes remaining. However, running back Ryan Williams fumbled, giving the Patriots a chance to win the game on a 42-yard field goal attempt by Stephen Gostkowski as time expired.
Just like Cundiff, Gostkowski's kick went wide left, a dramatic swing of events that handed the Patriots their first home-opening loss since 2001.
"I had a chance to win and it came down to me," Gostkowski said. "I didn't pull through and it stinks. I feel bad for the fans and my teammates. I can't take it back now."
Gostkowski already had converted four field goals in the game, including 53-, 51- and 46-yard attempts, while he boomed several kickoffs for touchbacks in last week's win over Tennessee.
"I had a good game up until that point. I felt good going out there," Gostkowski said. "There's probably not another game where I would feel more confident going out for a kick like that. It humbles you really quick."
Gostkowski added, "It wasn't the smoothest hit and I looked up and I saw it was left. Sometimes the ball just doesn't fly your way."
Gostkowski said that his focus will be moving on from the miss.
"I'm not scared to fail. It stinks when you do, but I wouldn't go there every day if I was scared to screw up. I'll feel bad about this for a couple days and I'm sure I'll get ripped for it by the fans, and it's well-deserved," Gostkowski said. "My teammates have my back. Nobody feels worse about missing the kick than I do. You just have to move on and get over it. It's the good ones that get over bad games that will last a while. If I let this affect me negatively, then I'm not doing my job."
After the loss, Gostkowski's teammates were supportive of the seventh-year kicker.
"Always," guard Logan Mankins said when asked if he was confident in Gostkowski. "But one of those days I guess."
"Oh, definitely," linebacker Jerod Mayo added. "He's our kicker, and we've seen him hit that a million times. He's hurt about it, but he's a great kicker and we all support him."
The Cardinals thought they played a role in Gostkowski's miss.
"We put a lot of pressure on a lot of field goal teams. I think he was a little scared of us, honestly, that is why he pushed it left," cornerback Patrick Peterson said.
"He is a kicker. It is his job to make the field goal and he missed the field goal," receiver Andre Roberts said. "We have a really good field-goal block team and I think that may have been in the back of his mind, you never know."
It was Gostkowski's first miss at home in the fourth quarter of a regular-season game. He had hit his first 21 such attempts and had made his last 38 field goals in the fourth quarter overall.
However, Gostkowski was largely untested when it came to game-winning field goal attempts. A fourth-round pick in 2006, Gostkowski replaced Adam Vinatieri, who had made clutch field goals his trademark while in New England. With the Indianapolis Colts since 2006, Vinatieri coincidentally kicked a 53-yard game-winning field goal on Sunday.
In January 2007, Gostkowski defeated the San Diego Chargers in a divisional playoff game on a 31-yard field goal, while his 35-yard kick in overtime defeated the Baltimore Ravens in October 2010.
Last February, prior to Super Bowl XLVI, Gostkowski spoke about his approach to kicking in pressure situations.
"I feel I do a good job of not getting overwhelmed by the situation," Gostkowski said at the time. "I don't go out there thinking, 'This kick is bigger than the last one.'
"As kickers, we know what it's about when we sign up for this."