Gostkowski goes above and beyond in playoff win

Gostkowski goes above and beyond in playoff win
January 12, 2014, 1:45 am
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FOXBORO -- As if Stephen Gostkowski's 2013 resume wasn't impressive enough.

The Patriots place-kicker punted five times in New England's 43-22 divisional playoff win against the Colts Saturday. He was pressed into service in the second quarter when Ryan Allen injured his shoulder while trying to recover a fumbled snap.

And he actually did OK.

"You can't prepare for something like that," Gostkowski shrugged. "It's unfortunate that Ryan couldn't return. My thoughts and prayers go out to him. He's done such a great job this year. I was lucky enough to do a good job and help the team win. But it's hard to have too much fun when my compadre was on the sideline with an injury."

His first attempt was a fine one, flying 53 yards before coming down at Indy's 7-yard line.

"I didn't let it get me nervous. I kind of felt comfortable out there -- I don't know how. I think getting off a first good punt kind of helped a little bit."

There are enough differences between place-kicking and punting to be impressed by the effort. For the first time in Gostkowski's career he had to worry about catching the football, getting the laces around, and having live defenders rush at him.

And that wasn't all.

Allen's absence tweaked Gostkowski's game in yet another way, as the punter also acts as holder on field goals. So, in the heat of a playoff game, he had to work with someone new.

Someone like Tom Brady.

"It's been a while since I've done that. I was happy to help the team," Brady said. He grinned and paused a beat before continuing. "Maybe I'll try to renegotiate my contract or something."

Think Gostkowski was scared to boot footballs held by a $57 million quarterback's throwing hand? Not even a little bit. Brady might be one of the best at his position, but so is New England's kicker. Gostkowski made 93-percent of his field goals this season.

"I don't think I'm going to hurt [Brady] kicking the ball. I was more nervous of him holding the ball than I was punting," he laughed. "He did a good job of stepping up and throwing it down.

"Guy's a good athlete. He's not as fine-tuned as Ryan is, but he did a good job."