New England Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski led the NFL in kicking 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 is 9 of 12 on field goals and has missed an extra point through the Patriots’ first six games. He’s missed a field goal or extra point in three straight games, and five of his last seven games dating back to January’s AFC title game.
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 hasn’t missed more than three field goals in a season since 2012. He missed kicks in three straight games back in that season as well, only to then convert all of his kicks for the remainder of the season.
With his steady track record, Gostkowski’s teammates are supporting him during this slump.
“Everybody has a competitive side to them and that’s probably why everyone in this locker room is here. There’s a lot of expectations for him,” punter and holder Ryan Allen told WEEI’s Ryan Hannable. “He’s a premier athlete and everybody wants to do good and be the best they can be. I think everybody in this room has probably had a moment, ‘I want that play back.'”
“It’s part of being a professional. If you play professional football, those things are going to happen,” special teams captain Matthew Slater told reporters on Wednesday. “I have a lot confidence in Steve. I believe in him. He’s a true professional. I would go to battle with him any day.”
The Patriots will look to put plenty of points on the board against the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offensive weapons on Sunday. Gostkowski’s only appearance at Heinz Field came on Oct. 30, 2011, in which he drilled both of his 2 point-after attempts. He went 1 of 2 on field goals, missing a 42-yard field goal attempt with 2:25 remaining in the third quarter.