Big stage for Gostkowski

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Big stage for Gostkowski

I've always considered the drafting of Stephen Gostkowski to be one of the most underrated moves of Bill Belichick's career.

Think about it: The guy basically let the best kicker (and most important figures) and franchise history jump ship to a major AFC rival. Then, he shrugged his shoulders and "Eh, whatever. I'll just draft this kid from Memphis and everything will be fine."

And it has been.

In the seven years since, the Pats kicking game hasn't missed a beat and the kid from Memphis has become one of the league's best and most reliable legs. But this year has not been Gostkowski's best.

As Tom E. Curran pointed out yesterday, Gostkowski's made 29 of his 35 attempts, missing twice between 30 and 39 yards and four times between 40 and 49. He's also missed one kick in each of the last three games (39, 43 and 41 yards). And over that time, confidence has started to wain. If not in the kicker himself, than at least in the minds of Patriots fans.

Be honest: Are you as confident in Gostkowski as you were at this time last year, or any year before that? Let's say there are three seconds left in Sunday's game, the Pats are down 28-26, and Gostkowski has a 45-yard field goal to win it. What are you doing: Standing tall in front of the TV or in the fetal position on the couch, watching through the corner of one eye?

Or maybe it's stupid to even pretend that this game will be close. If you listen to either of these two guys @dan_shaughnessy@shaughndaniels there's no chance in hell.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine