BOSTON (CBS) – An NFL kicker can go from hero to goat with one swing of their leg.
A game-winning boot will make them a folk hero, while a miss could mean they may never be able to dine at their favorite restaurant again.
But that is all just part of the life for an NFL kicker. Just ask the Patriots’ Steven Gostkowski.
“It’s a great job when it’s going well, and a very hard and lonely job when it’s not going well,” Gostkowski told WBZ-TV’s Steve Burton for Sunday’s edition of Patriots GameDay. “It’s a mentally grinding position. It can be physically taxing, but not enough to complain about. Mentally it can be tough, and you have to be mentally tough to play in the NFL.”
This has been an up and down season for the seventh-year kicker. Gostkowski is 24-for-30 on field goal attempts, with the six misses tying his career-high set back in his 2006 rookie season.
His biggest miss of the season came back in Week 2’s 20-18 loss to Arizona, when Gostkowski sent a 42-yarder wide left at the end of regulation. It would have given the Patriots the win, but instead Gostkowski walked off the field with his head down.
“That was the biggest kick I ever missed,” he said. “It was hard to deal with but it’s a learning experience that I tried to use to help myself going forward.”
Gostkowski was four-for-five that afternoon, accounting for 12 of New England’s 18 points. But while he missed the most important kick of the afternoon, he knows he can’t let it get to him.
“It’s a balancing act of emotions; not getting too high or too low,” he said. “I try my best to work at that and be as cool, calm and collected as I can be.”
“I know I’m not going to hit every kick, but I’m going to do my best to not let one kick affect the next kick,” Gostkowski added.
Gostkowski said he is no more superstitious than the average NFL player, but did do something following that miss against Arizona in hopes of changing his luck.
“I threw my shoe away. I had to try a new shoe,” he said, adding he’s thrown out a shoe before. “I was mad at that shoe.”
What has been consistent from Gostkowski has been his booming kickoffs. More times than not, Gostkowski puts it through the end zone for a touchback. But every now and then, the opposition will take a kick out in hopes they break a return. And every now and then, it will be up to Gostkowski to take them down.
That was the case in Week 1, when Tennessee’s Darius Reynaud broke a 40-yard return. It could have been a lot bigger, but the Patriots’ kicker was there as New England’s last line of defense.
“I did hit him pretty good,’ Gostkowski remembers of the tackle. “He fell down and I stood up and all the guys were cheering. It was the first time coach Belichick has actually pointed me out for a tackle in the team meeting, so that was kind of fun.”
“But I wouldn’t count on it,” he joked. “Most of those guys are a lot faster and stronger than me. But I do alright.”
See Steve Burton’s 1-on-1 with Patriots’ kicker Stephen Gostkowski Sunday morning on Patriots GameDay at 11:30am on WBZ-TV.