Blaming one person for a loss is typically a foolhardy task, it is quite clear that New England Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski played a part in their loss to the Miami Dolphins yesterday.
Gostkowski's blemish yesterday on otherwise a stellar, All Pro-esque resume is certainly a bitter pill to swallow. Two weeks earlier, he hit a pair of crucial 53 yard field goals against the Houston Texans which went a long way in helping the Patriots eke out a win that day.
Gostkowski's fourth quarter kickoff blunder, which gave the Dolphins great field position at their 40, gave them the availability to march down the field in nine plays to take a 24-20 lead late in the fourth quarter. Patriots fans surely remember the benefits of kickers hanging kickoffs out of bounds, as that exact miscue heavily aided New England in their 2005 Super Bowl win against the Carolina Panthers.
“It was just a case of overkicking and trying to kill the ball,” said Gostkowski. “Not a good kick at all. Terrible timing. It’s a play I wish I could take back. It stinks. Stinks to lose and stinks to have an effect on the game like that. I was just trying to kill the ball. Trying to hit it too hard and that’s tough to do when you’re not under control.”
On top of Gostkowski's critical mistake in the fourth, he also missed a 48 yard field goal attempt on the opening drive of the second half which would come back to bite them at the end; where Tom Brady and company had to score a touchdown to win the game on their final drive, instead of settling for a field goal. A 48 yard field goal is far from a gimme, but Gostkowski's numbers this year (32-35) indicate he hits that more time than not. With all of the injuries suffered by the Patriots this year, their margin of error is very slim, and any mistakes they make or plays they don't execute are magnified. The missed 48 yarder is certainly forgivable, but botching a kickoff and giving the opposition prime field position is an egregious mistake that played directly into a New England loss.
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