Stephen Gostkowski kicks his way into record book
FOXBOROUGH — Stephen Gostkowski kicked his way into the record book during Sunday’s 51-17 blowout win over the Jaguars.
Gostkowski, one of the more reliable kickers in league history and the Patriots’ all-time leading scorer, set the NFL record by converting his 423d consecutive extra point during his 6 for 6 day. He also added a pair of 46-yard field goals.
Gostkowski, who is up to 425 straight, acknowledged he knew about his historical mark, but only by accident.
“Unfortunately, yeah, because they put it up on the Jumbotron before the game,’’ he said.
“That’s not something I try to keep up with, but it was cool. It’s always fun to do well and win, just being on a good team that scores a lot of points. When you kick, you’re a beneficiary of opportunity.
“I had a lot of opportunities to kick a lot of field goals, a lot of extra points. It’s fun when I get to get out there and play and do well.’’
Gostkowski paid homage to several kickers he admired along the way – including Matt Stover, whom he briefly shared the record with at 422 – and former Patriot Adam Vinatieri.
“Vinatieri was the first person that seemed like a weapon as a kicker,’’ said Gostkowski. “Stover obviously. Just the guys that do it for a long time and do it consistently. That’s what I’m trying to do is be good every day, every time I go out there.’’
That includes practices.
“He’s not a robot,’’ said punter/holder Ryan Allen when asked if Gostkowski misses any PATs at practice. “But I don’t think so. I really don’t think so.’’
Can’t fool him
Late in the third quarter, with the Jaguars trailing by 27 points and lining up to punt deep in their own territory, the Patriots were guarding against a fake punt.
After being burned in practice on it, they wanted to be ready if they got a chance when it counted. Sure enough, the Jaguars snapped it short to Corey Grant, and the running back tried to gain the 8 yards needed on fourth down.
But Grant ran into Matthew Slater, the Patriots’ special teams captain, who brought the ball carrier down after just a 2-yard gain. Fake punt failed.
“It was something that we were alert for all week long, something that they’ve shown in the past. All 11 guys that went out on the field were on the same page to be alert for it, we played the technique that we practiced and were coached to do all week,” Slater said.
“I just happened to be in the right place at the right time, I really think Brandon Bolden and that side of the line did a great job of stretching the play.”
Slater said the situation — Jaguars trailing, 37-10, not much time to play, looking for a spark — had the Patriots on high alert. But a successful fake punt in practice put even more emphasis on being ready to see and stop it.
“James White got us on it, and we made some corrections on that in practice and then we were able to carry those over into the game,” coach Bill Belichick said. “Slate got a good read on it, and he’s a hard guy to outrun. He did a good job of tracking it down and making the tackle. It was a heads-up play by our special teams.”
Rookie chips in
After contributing the first two games solely on special teams, rookie safety Jordan Richards saw his first NFL action on defense, and made one of the game’s more memorable plays.
On the fourth play of the second quarter, with Allen Robinson a step behind him and the ball thrown high near the Patriots sideline, Richards pushed the airborne Jaguars receiver out of bounds.
Even though Robinson made the catch, he didn’t get one foot inbounds, much less two, thanks to Richards.
“If you can’t play the ball, you’ve got to try to play his hands, and if you know you’re close to the sidelines, you want to get him out of bounds,” said Richards, a second-round draft pick out of Stanford. In addition to the pass defended, Richards was credited with two tackles.