FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- About a month ago, Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski stood at his locker and gamely answered every question fired his way by a critical horde of reporters after missing a 42-yard field goal that would have beaten the Arizona Cardinals.
He redeemed himself in Sunday’s roller-coaster affair against the New York Jets -- kicking a 43-yarder with no time remaining to send the game into overtime and a 48-yarder in OT that proved to be the game-winner -- but was nowhere to be found afterwards, his locker cleared out by the time the media was allowed in.
He let his teammates do the talking for him after nailing two of the biggest kicks he’s made over his seven seasons with the Patriots.
“Never lost hope,” his holder and Patriots punter Zoltan Mesko said. “He’s the guy we trust. He’s like a brother to me because we’re together all the time.”
Gostkowski’s miss against the Cardinals was his first ever in the fourth quarter at home (he was previously 21 of 21), yet it prompted discussion on whether he was a guy Patriots fans could trust to make a big kick. That doubt apparently didn’t extend to the locker room.
“Steve’s a great kicker,” said linebacker Rob Ninkovich, who recovered the Mark Sanchez fumble in overtime that made Gostkowski’s field goal a few minutes earlier the game-winner. “I’m happy he’s on our team. He’s great overall. On kickoffs, he puts ‘em deep. And he’s always kicking clutch field goals for us.”
After his big miss against the Cardinals, Gostkowski said he was quick to turn the page, noting he was “not scared to fail.”
“It stinks when you do,” he continued, “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. 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."
For the season, Gostkowski is 14 of 17, an 82.4 percent clip that’s just below his career average, which is the highest in team history (84.2).