By Mary Paoletti
FOXBORO -- With four seconds remaining in regulation, the Patriots and Ravens were deadlocked at 20 points apiece. New England had the ball at the Baltimore 44. It was fourth-and-1 and Stephen Gostkowski had been limbering up on the sideline for several minutes.
But instead of trotting New England's kicker out for what would have been a 61-yard attempt -- albeit with a strong breeze at his back -- Brady got down in shotgun. It was a surprising move to many.
Gostkowski didn't argue.
"You take what you get, that's not my call," he said. "I am not going to be the guy tapping Coach Bill Belichick on the shoulder saying, 'Send me out there.' I just get ready to go and when my name is called I do it.
"Ive made kicks that long before in practice and I've never gotten the opportunity to kick one of those in a game, but I would have gone out there and tried my best. The only bad thing that can happen there is that you get the kick blocked. I don't think the coaches are going to be out there yelling at me the next day if I miss, so it's kind of like a freebee."
Isn't it a point of pride? Wouldn't a kicker take it personally if his coach didn't give him the chance? Gostkowski looked at the situation pretty rationally. He knows that it's just business to Belichick.
"I knew whether I tried it or not we were still going to have overtime,'' he said in the postgame. "If I let my emotions get the best of me and get mad they coaches didnt send me out there . . . it's no disrespect.
"The percentages of a 65-yard field goal are probably pretty low and if I let that affect me and end up missing the next kick then I am not a very good professional at what I do. It would have been cool to try it, but oh well."
His ambivalence is understandable in light of the final score: 23-20, Patriots. Game-winner: Gostkowski.
"I went three-for-three with a game winner. I cant be mad about anything,'' he shrugged.
Sunday's performance was his best of the season. In a Week 1 match up against Cincinnati Gostkowski went an uncharacteristic 1-for-3 on field goals. He went 0-for-1 in his next performance against the Jets, which was actually a missed re-boot of a kick he originally made.
Gostkowski is now 7-for-10 on the regular season for field goals. Considering that his career worst was 76.9 in his rookie season, Sunday's pressure points were important.
"We ended up winning so I could care less they didnt send me out there,'' he said. "I am just glad I got the opportunity to go out there at the end."