New England Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski led the NFL in points last season with 151. He drilled 33 of 36 field-goal attempts (91.7 percent), ranking fifth in the league in field-goal percentage, and was one of only six kickers to finish the season perfect on extra points.
The start of the 2016 season has not been nearly as kind for the Patriots’s 32-year-old, 11-year veteran. Gostkowski entered Week 7 only 9 of 12 on field goals and a missed an extra point.
After whiffing on an extra-point attempt midway through the third quarter against Pittsburgh, Gostkowski has now missed a kick for the 4th-straight game, the first such slump of his career. Dating back to January’s AFC title game, the kicker has missed a kick in 6 of his last 8 games.
Gostkowski missed a 48-yard attempt against the Bills in Week 4, a 50-yard kick in Week 5 at Cleveland and then missed an extra point in Week 6 against the Bengals. Gostkowski has not missed more than three field goals in a season since 2012. He missed kicks in three straight games back in that season, only to then convert all of his kicks for the remainder of the season.
Special teams captain Matthew Slater spoke in support of Gostkowski to reporters on Tuesday.
“We’ve just got to be as positive as we can be with Stephen,” Slater said. “You don’t want to say too much, but you also want to let him know that we can continue to have faith in him, continue to believe in his ability to perform and that we wouldn’t trade him for anyone.
“So I’m just going to be as positive with Steve as possible and try to be as normal as possible. I think when you start trying to act too differently and say things differently, it just makes it even a little bit stranger. We’re going to be positive with him and prepare for Buffalo.”
Slater also commented on the Patriots’ kicking coverage from Sunday.
Matthew Slater on Patriots' kickoff coverage yesterday: "Not good enough."
— Ryan Hannable (@RyanHannable) October 24, 2016