Mike Vrabel and the Tennessee Titans sound prepared to be patient with four-time Pro Bowl kicker Stephen Gostkowski.
Making the game-winning field goal certainly helps.
Gostkowski's track record does too.
“For a guy that’s a career 87 percent field-goal kicker who’s done it as long as he has, I think a lot of those corrections are going to be on him," Vrabel said Tuesday hours after Gostkowski, the Patriots' all-time leading scorer, made a 25-yarder with 17 seconds remaining for a 16-14 win in Denver Monday night.
"But it’s also going to be about us in the operation and the ability for us to protect and the ability to make everything around him better and have a lot of faith and confidence in Stephen in moving forward.”
The Titans thought they fixed their kicking woes by signing Gostkowski, the fifth-ranked kicker in NFL history on Sept. 3. Instead, the NFL’s worst field-goal team in 2019 picked up where they left off after using five different kickers last season.
Gostkowski’s misses led to flashbacks to last October when Cairo Santos missed three field goals and had another blocked in a 14-7 loss to Buffalo. Gostkowski was wide right from 47 yards, had a 44-yarder blocked and yanked a 42-yarder wide left. Then he missed an extra point in the fourth quarter.
The Titans cut Santos after his misses.
Gostkowski said he thought he sped up after just missing the first field goal, which could be an easy fix of timing with practice. This also is a short week with the Titans returning home Tuesday morning with Jacksonville visiting Sunday. Testing protocols make quick roster changes much tougher.
After the missed extra point, Gostkowski also took off his right sock.
“I practice without socks all summer so then I started putting them on,” Gostkowski said. "I would have taken my pants off to make that last kick to try something different. I wasn’t doing very well so I had to switch something up for mental sake. It’s just a weird quirk I guess.”
Jets place Le’Veon Bell on IR
The New York Jets will face the defending NFC champion San Francisco 49ers without Le’Veon Bell.
The star running back was placed on injured reserve with a hamstring injury. Bell was hurt in the second quarter of the Jets' season-opening 27-17 loss at Buffalo on Sunday.
He will miss at least the next three games, and be eligible to return to the active roster in Week 5.
With Bell sidelined, 37-year-old Frank Gore was the team’s only healthy running back on the active roster. Josh Adams was elevated from the practice squad and played against the Bills. He’s likely to be elevated again this week. As part of this year’s rules changes, players can be elevated twice from a team’s practice squad and returned without passing through waivers.
Eric Reid blasts NFL for use of Colin Kaepernick in video
Eric Reid called out the NFL on Monday, saying its use of video of Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem in a video promoting its social justice campaign was “diabolical” and “halfhearted at best,” given that the quarterback remains unsigned.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell “has gotten comfortable saying he ‘was wrong’ [in not recognizing systemic racism and supporting Kaepernick’s protest] as if his mere acknowledgment reconciles his admitted wrongdoing.” Reid wrote on Twitter. “He hasn’t even called Colin to apologize, let alone reconcile, proving this is only PR for the current business climate.”
Both Reid and Kaepernick, along with other players, were shown in a video broadcast before the first games of the NFL season that featured Alicia Keys singing “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” The video included a close-up of Kaepernick as he knelt and also showed an NFL player walking with a man wearing a shirt emblazoned with an image of a black fist emerging from Kaepernick’s hair.
No elbow issues for Ben Roethlisberger
Time to stop talking about Ben Roethlisberger’s surgically repaired right elbow.
At least for now.
Whatever lingering doubts Roethlisberger or the rest of the Pittsburgh Steelers might have had over the state of their franchise quarterback’s passing arm were put to rest during a relatively drama-free 26-16 win over the New York Giants in the season opener on Monday night.
Playing for the first time in 364 days, the 38-year-old completed 21 of 32 passes for 229 yards and three touchdowns. And while he only truly let it loose a couple of times, he was efficient. He was patient. He was even a little spry, running for an 11-yard gain at one point.
While Roethlisberger wasn’t dominant, dominance wasn’t required. Not on a night where the defense produced three sacks and two turnovers while holding New York running back Saquon Barkley to just 6 yards rushing. For a team that expects to compete with Baltimore for the AFC North title, it was a promising start. Even if it was just a start.
“We said afterward it wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t even good some of the time offensively,” Roethlisberger said. “But at the end of the day we found a way to win.”