Stephen Gostkowski: 'Inexcusable' to miss extra point attempt

Stephen Gostkowski: 'Inexcusable' to miss extra point attempt

FOXBORO – Stephen Gostkowski’s been arguably the best kicker in football over the past three seasons. But so far this year, it’s been a struggle. Going into Sunday’s game against the Bengals, Gostkowski had missed three field goals in five games.

How uncommon was that? He’d missed eight in his previous 48 regular-season games, three total misses in both 2013 and 2015 and two in 2014.

Sunday, even though he made a 46-yarder earlier, his missed an extra point in the third quarter after a James White touchdown. He barely squeezed through a 31-yard field goal in the fourth.

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“For me, that’s inexcusable to miss a kick like that,” Gostkowski said of the extra point. "For me, I’ve had a few missed swings this year and I’m just trying to go out there and do my best to tighten it up. Sometimes you get lucky, sometimes you get unlucky, sometimes you’re just not as good as you need to be. I’m just trying to get to a point where I’m a consistent player on this team. That’s all I work for.”

It’s safe now to call Gostkowski’s start to this season a slump. He just doesn’t miss this often. He knows that.

“Sometimes you just can’t explain how and why things happen,” he said. “At the end of the day, we won. Got the game started off with a nice kick, had some good kickoffs. I just need to focus on the positives instead of dwelling on the negatives. It’s part of the game as a kicker, when you screw up, everybody notices you.”

The miss that may have started this skid could have been in the AFC Championship Game last season at Denver when Gostkowski missed his first extra point since 2006. Sunday, he missed his first regular season PAT since then.

“There’s still time,” he said. “I’ll do my best to straighten ‘em out. That’s the way the cookie crumbles, my man. I’m just happy we’re winning.”

The time will inevitably come when Gostkowski’s called on for a true pressure kick. An end-of-game job that will have folks wringing hands about the outcome until it goes through. Or doesn’t. Such is the life of a kicker.

Jeff Howe: Good move by Patriots to see what price is on Richard Sherman trade

Jeff Howe: Good move by Patriots to see what price is on Richard Sherman trade

Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald talks with Toucher and Rich about the report that the Patriots inquired what the price would be to acquire Seahawks Pro Bowl corner Richard Sherman via trade.

Jerod Mayo: 'Cyrus Jones will probably be most improved this year'

Jerod Mayo: 'Cyrus Jones will probably be most improved this year'

Jerod Mayo still has faith in New England Patriots cornerback Cyrus Jones.

The cornerback, who was the Patriots' top pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, struggled mightily in his rookie season. He fumbled his way out of a role on special teams, where he served as a returner.

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He then failed to perform at nickel cornerback, and the Patriots traded for Eric Rowe, who pushed Jones down the depth chart and often onto the inactives on game day. Jones' emotional outburst during Week 5 when he got ejected for punching Browns receiver Andrew Hawkins didn't help.

Despite all that, Mayo thinks Jones will turn things around.

"I think Cyrus Jones will probably be most improved this year," Mayo said in the latest edition of "The Ex Pats" podcast. "I want people to remember a rookie [Matthew] Slater. A rookie Matt Slater was terrible. He would sit here on this podcast and tell you he's terrible, and I think Cyrus Jones is more athletic than Matthew Slater. I think -- I know for a fact, because I've seen it time and time again, the biggest leap not only in athleticsm but also in confidence is from year one to year two."

Jones admitted to the Baltimore Sun that his rookie was "hell." He added he felt "embarrassed." The 23-year-old cornerback said he didn't feel like he was a part of New England's Super Bowl LI win.

“Failure is another opportunity to begin again more intelligently,” Jones wrote in a now-deleted Instagram post.

Mayo seems to think Jones has learned his lesson, and will rebound with the help of Bill Belichick. And the Patriots may need Butler to be the most-improved player. Malcolm Butler's future with New England has become uncertain, and the remaining top cornerbacks are over 6-feet.

The Patriots need a slot corner. Jones is the next man up.

"As much as the media has kind of battered this young kid, Bill's going to boost him up this entire offseason," Mayo said. "Bill -- he's the best at putting lowlights up after a game . . . But during the offseason, he kind of -- it's individualized coach. He knows this guy's confidence is in the toilet. He's going to boost him up as much as possible.

"You know [Jones] can play football. He played in the SEC. He played on the top team on the country, and was a standout performer. So this is a confidence issue. This entire thing is a confidence issue, and I think they fix that."