FOXBORO -- Stephen Gostkowski is on a roll. The kicker hasn't missed a field goal since the 43-yarder he shanked in New England's Sept. 12 win over the Jets, hitting a career-high 17 in a row.
Just don't bring it up.
"I don't openly talk about it," he said Friday. "I'm not superstitious, but I don't like to talk about it. I really don't think about it. It's a game-to-game thing."
Gostkowski is having his best statistical season. He's converted 95.7 percent of his field-goal attempts, including two from 50-plus yards. One of them, from 54 yards out, was not only his personal longest but also the ninth 50-plus-yard kick of his career, which broke Adam Vinatieri's previous team record of eight.
"I don't keep up with stats," Gostkowski shrugged. "Obviously I can tell when I kick a couple field goals a game, but I don't go around comparing myself to other people or how many I made one year compared to other years. My goal is to go out there and hit that first kickoff well, and my first kick for extra point well. If I do that, then good. And if I go out there and screw up, I start another one. That's how I look at it."
It's not just the invocation of Vinatieri that's earned him more attention in recent weeks; Gostkowski's numbers more than justify it. His 38 touchbacks are second-most in the NFL, behind Denver's Matt Prater. Of 54 total kickoffs, only 16 have been returned, which is the third-lowest return percentage in the league.
"This isn't the only year I've gotten touchbacks. I think I've been doing that since I got here," he pointed out.
True. Gostkowski did have a solid 52 touchbacks last season, but 53.2 percent of his kickoffs were returned. It's only fair the improvement be noted.
And go ahead. The kicker just doesn't care for comparisons, whether to his former personal bests or any Patriots past.
"I don't really care to compare myself to anybody else," he said. "If I play well and help our team win, get the opportunities I get and do well with them, I'm happy no matter what. If I try to chase what someone else did . . . that's not the way I'm trying to approach things. I'm just excited and happy to be here, and be a contributor to the team."