Best of the Belichick Era: Number 19 — Stephen Gostkowski


I'm spending 50 days ranking the top 50 players of the Bill Belichick Era, from No. 50 down to No. 1. (Click here for a criteria on how I made my selections.)


Today we reach . . . .

Years With Patriots: 2006-2014
Games: 136
Playoff Games: 17
Honors: Super Bowl winner (2014), All-Pro (2008), Pro Bowls (2008, 2013, 2014)

Adam Vinatieri was a placekicking deity. The forecast called for pain when Vinatieri left as a free agent in 2006 because no replacement could be as clutch and unflappable as Automatic Adam, the man who won two Super Bowls in the final minute with his right foot and delivered two of the most amazing postseason kicks in history in the Snow Bowl. I’m not saying Stephen Gostkowski is necessarily better than Vinatieri. I will point out, though, that both men made 243 regular-season kicks in the first nine seasons of their career. Gostkowski did that on 280 attempts. Vinatieri on 296. A Pro Bowler each of the past two seasons, Gostkowski has missed five regular-season field goal attempts in the past two years. That’s 73 out of 78. He hasn’t missed a postseason field goal attempts since 2009 and is 20 of 22 for his career in the postseason. The most impressive run of his career was in 2013 when he made eight kicks of great length at clutch junctures in Patriots wins. He hasn’t had many occasions in the postseason to nail big kicks – though he went 8-for-8 as a rookie in the 2006 playoffs – but his regular-season performances are annually the source of team-wide success. Being without a reliable kicker changes everything for a coaching staff. Since he’s coached the Patriots, Bill Belichick hasn’t really faced that feeling.


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