Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski and made extra points were as automatic as anything in football until the first quarter of the AFC championship game.
Gostkowski missed an extra point after Steven Jackson’s touchdown run, which was the first time he’d missed a conversion kick since his rookie season in 2006. The miss wound up looming large over the rest of the game, particularly the final beats of it as the Patriots had to go for two after a touchdown late in the fourth quarter in an attempt to tie the game.
The attempt failed, obviously, and the Patriots lost 20-18 to the Broncos. Gostkowski took the blame for costing the Patriots the game after the final whistle, which is an overstatement given the way the entire game played out. He told Mike Reiss of ESPN.com that he’d “rather take more accountability” for the impact of his miss, but explained how he’s been able to move on in the last few weeks.
“I’ve always been hard on myself whenever I have a bad game, especially when we lose. But I’ve never once hung my head down,” Gostkowski said. “You have to have a short memory in this game, but I’m always hard on myself for a couple days, even when we win and I have a miskick. It’s a perfectionist’s job — you strive for perfection. I expect to make every kick, and when I don’t, it’s very frustrating. I probably practice tens of thousands of kicks for every one I’ve tried in a game, and when it doesn’t go your way, it can be hard to deal with. But I’ve always been good at getting over things and not sulking and letting it mount into one bad kick after the next. I came back and made my next two kicks in the game.”
The Patriots likely feel safe in assuming that Gostkowski will continue to make more kicks than he misses in 2016 and beyond. He’s made over 87 percent of his field goals in the regular season and 24-of-26 in the playoffs to go with those two missed extra points, which doesn’t make for a forecast filled with further need to take the blame for things going against the Patriots.