The Patriots Stand Behind Stephen Gostkowski After Missed Extra-Point

Tom Brady: 'He's the best.'

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Stephen Gostkowski converted an NFL record 523 consecutive extra points prior to missing his first attempt during Sunday’s AFC Championship. Football can be a humbling game.

For the second time in three seasons, the Denver Broncos defeated the Patriots at Mile High Stadium to advance to the Super Bowl.  The Broncos’ 20-18 victory was in jeopardy until the final moments of the fourth quarter, but the Patriots failed to execute a game-tying two-point conversion after Tom Brady had connected with Rob Gronkowski in the back of the end zone.

Of course, if Gostkowski had hit his extra point in the first quarter, the Patriots would’ve only needed one point to send the game into overtime.

Though the Broncos marched up the field and scored a touchdown on an 11-play opening drive, it seemed as if the momentum was turning when Bill Belichick successfully challenged an incomplete pass ruling late in the first quarter. Running back Ronnie Hillman dropped a swing pass from Peyton Manning on Denver’s 22-yard line, which was one-yard behind where Manning had thrown the ball. Under NFL rules, it’s deemed a fumble if a player drops a backwards pass—not an incompletion.

Patriots linebacker Jonathan Freeny recovered the football, and Steven Jackson ran in for a touchdown two plays later to pull the Pats within one. Then Gostkowski missed an extra point for the first time in nine years.

Gostkowski hit two field goals later on in the game, but the unsuccessful PAT loomed large for the duration of the afternoon. Though many other factors led to the Patriots’ defeat, most notably their inability to protect Brady from a suffocating Broncos pass-rush, the final score says Gostkowski’s failed extra point attempt was probably the difference.

Gostkowski’s teammates, however, say they don’t see it that way.

Those comments are reminiscent of how the Vikings received their kicker Blair Walsh two weeks ago when he shanked a 27-yard chip shot that would’ve won Minnesota its first playoff game since 2009. His teammates supported him after the game, much like how the Patriots stood by Gostkowski.

The missed extra point Sunday may have cost the Patriots the game, but Gostkowski’s right foot had never let them down them before. It’s nice to see perspective wasn’t lost in the aftermath of a crushing defeat.