If you know anything about this inconceivably long run of unimaginable success of professional tackle football in New England, it’s that nothing is ever going so well that the people who live among us are incapable about freaking the fuck out about something. Injuries. Potential injuries. The interpersonal relationships of the key people. Happiness. Fun. Peaking too soon. Peaking too late. Not peaking. Running up the score. Handjobs. The President of the United States. Name it, someone is irrationally losing their minds about it.
Even when the Patriots have outscored their opponents 76-3, there is no escaping the darkness of pessimistic worrywartism. Today’s reason to panic? Stephen Gostkowski.
Now before we begin, let me state from the outset everything I’m about to say is rational analysis based on logic and facts. And not at all tainted by the fact Gostkowski and I have that unbreakable bond of friendship that exists only between two people who have met each other a few times and did an autograph signing together one time.
That said, yup. I agree Gostkowski had a terrible, no good, very bad day kicking balls through goalposts. (On kickoffs he was stellar. As usual.) Though I don’t agree with 90% of the Twitter posts saying that he’s missing so much now that yesterday was a fireable offense:
He missed two extra points and a 48 yard field goal that was by no means a gimme. He owns that. Just as he gets to own the fact that the week before he was 7 for 7 on kicks. And how last year he missed one XP in 50 attempts. And that his 5 misses out of 32 FG attempts in 2018 were from 54, 50, 52, 48 and 42 yards. Only the last of which we can reasonably classify as “expect to make it.” He also gets to own that he was 11th in total makes. Which, while not great, is hardly reason to go to some dark psychological place worrying about it. And trust me, if you think I feel like spending part of my Monday combing through last year’s box scores to find the length of a kicker’s misses, you’ve got another thing coming. It was no box of chocolates, believe me. But it’s the lengths I’m willing to go to shut up the panic brigade. I do and do and do for you kids, and I ask nothing in return.
Without a doubt, Adam Vinatieri is the best kicker who’s ever lived. I’ll fight any man who argues otherwise. He’s going to the Hall of Fame. He’s the one guy you’d want taking a stance behind the holder with the survival of all life on Earth on the line. Mr. Clutch. The kick that tied the Snow Bowl Game, through (in Gil Santos’ immortal words, “a maelstrom!” Two makes at the clocks ticked down to 0:00 to win Super Bowls. You can never remember an important miss. Right?
Here are Vinatieri’s career postseason numbers along with Gostkowski’s:
And if you argue that he never missed a kick you had to have, don’t use the one at the end of Super Bowl XXXVIII against Carolina because he missed two in that one. From 31 and 36. I’ll die before I rip Adam Vinatieri in public or private. I’m just saying that, excuse the grammar, miss happens.
And not just in the clutch. Here are their career regular season success rates, and where they rank all time:
Bear in mind that Vinatieri has played 35 more games for the Colts than he did in New England, giving him substantially more dome games than the guy who replaced him. Again, that’s no knock. That’s just a measure of how good Gostkowski has been for a very long time.
And if you’re arguing you have no faith in him any more because he missed a 46 yarder in the last Super Bowl, then you can’t leave out that he iced the game with a 42 yard kick. Or that, on 4th & two chain links, the franchise quarterback was given the chance to have the ball in his hands or in Gostkowski’s feet to win it, and he didn’t hesitate.
That’s right. The best QB sneak converter we’ve ever seen had more faith in his kicker to make what was by no means a gimme than he did in his own ability to gain the width of a hash mark. Consider that as you sit there thinking they’d be better off with some unemployed kicker or Carli Lloyd or some such nonsense.
So all you Gostkowski haters, who are you going to trust? The numbers, the facts, Tom Brady and me, or your lying eyes?