Gostkowski shut out of All-Pro honors

Gostkowski shut out of All-Pro honors
January 3, 2014, 2:00 pm
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Nobody made more field goals than Stephen Gostkowski in 2013. And no kicker was called on to make more clutch kicks – and came through  - than Gostkowski.
 
But Gostkowski was beaten out for Associated Press All-Pro honors by both Justin Tucker of the Ravens (first team) and the Broncos Matt Prater (second team). The All-Pro teams are voted on by a panel of 50 voters. I got one of them there votes. And I cast it for Gostkowski. At a position where production is so easily quantifiable, there should have been a lot more for the Patriots kicker.
 
First, check the numbers. Gostkowski and Justin Tucker both went 35 for 38 on field goals this season. Gostkowski had 65 touchbacks on kickoffs. Tucker had 42.
 
Denver’s Matt Prater was 25 for 26 on field goals and kicked a 64-yarder. Prater also led the league in touchbacks with 81 (kicking at elevation is a terrific thing), but he was 15th in percentage of kickoffs going for touchbacks while Gostkowski was sixth.
 
So why Gostkowski? He made two fourth-quarter kicks against Buffalo in the opener, turning a 20-17 deficit into a 23-20 win. He hit a 53-yarder as time expired in the first half against Tampa. He hit 48 and 49 yarders at Atlanta – the second one in the fourth quarter of a 30-23 win. He kicked a 54-yarder at the end of the third to break a tie against the Saints. He tied the Jets game with 16 seconds left on a 44-yard field goal (his second of the fourth quarter). He hit a 48-yarder at the end of the third to break a 17-all tie with Miami. He beat the Broncos in overtime with a 31-yarder. He made two 53-yard field goals in the fourth to tie and then beat the Texans. He hit a 50-yard field goal in the fourth quarter against Cleveland then, later in the quarter, executed an onsides kick that was recovered by Kyle Arrington (Gostkowski touching it first).

That’s eight games in which Gostkowski’s late kicks of great length were critical. And the onsides kick that led to a win.
 
Why did Tucker get the nod? Exposure. He had the most electrifying kick of the year, a 61-yarder to beat the Lions in Week 15, one of six he made during that Monday Night Football game. Tucker had 33 straight field goals at one point (a streak snapped when he hooked a 37-yarder in the Ravens loss to the Patriots). Also, in a win over the Steelers Tucker hit two in the fourth from 45 and 48 yards and had five overall. He tied the Bears game with a 21-yarder with three seconds left (Ravens lost in OT) and he made a 46-yarder against the Ravens to beat Cincinnati in overtime.
 
So that’s four games where Tucker’s kick was of consequence. Huge divisional games in the mix. Outstanding season. Better than Gostkowski’s? Not in my opinion.
 
The real injustice is Prater getting the nod.

Prater had two big late kicks in the Broncos win over the Cowboys (50 early in the fourth; 21 to win it). But the Broncos were so overpowering offensively that Prater just wasn’t afforded opportunities to make clutch kicks. Like Tucker, the sizzle of one performance – one kick – caused Prater to leapfrog Gostkowski. That would be the 64-yarder.