FOXBORO -- When the Denver Broncos took the field for the field goal attempt that would stick a lance through their collective chests, they sent a quarterback out as a last resort.
Brock Osweiler, a 6-foot-8 rookie from Arizona State bounced with anticipation as Stephen Gostkowski lined up the 31-yard attempt that would send the Broncos on the longest plane ride of their season.
When the ball was snapped, Osweiler and the rest of the Broncos could only wave goodbye as Gostkowski’s kick soared over and through.
It was another big kick for Gostkowski in a season full of them. A player who once stood where Danny Amendola did Sunday night -- as the guy who replaced a beloved Patriot (Gostkowski replaced Adam Vinatieri) -- keeps on proving the Patriots didn’t completely blow it seven years ago when they lost Vinatieri in free agency and drafted Gostkowski.
“Winning in general is fun,” said Gostkowski. “When you get to touch the ball last it’s even sweeter. What a crazy game and what a fun finish. To come back and win like that is definitely special.”
Gostkowski’s made 25 of 26 field goals this season. The quick turnaround at the end of the game -- a Patriots punt that was muffed by Denver -- didn’t catch him napping, he said.
“You always gotta be ready,” Gostkowski proclaimed. “In a game like that, you just gotta keep your composure. I wasn’t just going back to sit on a heated bench. I was keeping my mind ready because there was one more chance to get the ball back if they punted it back. That’s what you practice for, that’s what you play for -- the opportunity to come through and win it for your team and we did a good job of it tonight.”
It was a tough night for the specialists, Gostkowski said.
“The wind was pretty good and anytime the temperature is lower and the wind is higher, the harder it is to kick,” he pointed out. “Luckily we had the wind behind our back on that last kick. Obviously you could tell, kickoffs going one way were going five yards out of the end zone and they were going to the 10 [yard line] the other way. It’s tough, but it was a lot of fun. Ryan [Allen] and Danny [Aiken] did a great job on the last kick, the line obviously blocked really well. It was just sweet. Definitely going to enjoy this one for a couple days.”