Stephen Gostkowski feels for Billy Cundiff

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — If anyone in Gillette Stadium understood what Baltimore Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff was going through Sunday night, it was New England Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski.

Cundiff badly shanked a 32-yard field goal wide left that could have tied the AFC Championship Game at the end of regulation. Instead, a shocked Baltimore team was sent packing for the season, while an equally surprised New England club didn't need overtime to advance to Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis.

Most people won't understand how a kicker can miss a chip shot to end the game. But Gostkowski said it's not as easy as it looks.

"I definitely have an appreciation for every [kicker] in the league," Gostkowski said after the game. "I know how hard it is. I know that if one little thing goes wrong you can easily miss the kick. Everybody is different and has a different mentality. I try to treat every kick the same, but it’s impossible to replicate that kind of situation."

There is a small fraternity of place kickers in the NFL. Unlike linebacker, safety or wide receiver, there is usually just one spot open for a place kickers with each team.

Gostkowski said he rarely watches opposing kickers from the sidelines and didn't see Baltimore's final play. Like many of his Patriots teammates, the moment was either too nerve-wrecking or players were mentally and physically preparing for overtime before Cundiff's botched kick.

"I was super pumped that we won, but it humbles you because that could have easily been me or anyone else," Gostkowski said. "I'm sure no one wants to see [a kicker] go down like that. But I'm happy that we won."