FOXBOROUGH – Stephen Gostkowski was named AFC special teams player of the week after belting four field goals – including three of 45 yards or more – in New England’s 26-10 win over the Rams on Sunday.
It’s the second time this season – and fifth time in his career – that Gostkowski has received the honor. Gostkowski hit field goals of 28, 48, 45, and 45 yards against Los Angeles. He was also recognized after the Patriots Week 1 win over the Cardinals when he went 3 for 3, including a 47-yarder, a 53-yarder, and the game winning 32-yarder.
It’s a late-season boost for Gostkowski, who has four field goals and three 33-yard extra points this season.
Coincidentally, with the Ravens, perennially one of the league’s toughest teams, due in town for a Monday night battle, coach Bill Belichick touched on the subject of mental toughness – a quality all successful kickers possess.
Belichick said toughness is a skill not unlike a physical skill that he looks for when bringing a player into his program.
“If you want a tough team, you get tough players. If you want a fast team, you get fast players. If you want a big team, you get big players. If you want a quick team, you get quick players,’’ he said. “It’s hard to get all those. Those are the top 5 picks in the draft. After that, you decide what you want. All [the qualities are] important but you’ve got to prioritize based on what you feel is most important to the team.’’
Belichick said there’s lots of different qualities that can make a player be considered tough, durability being among them.
“There are a lot of different types of toughness,’’ he said. “Going over the middle to catch a ball when somebody is going to hit you hard is one type of toughness … Taking on guys that are bigger than you is another kind of toughness.’’
The coach then expanded his answer as it applies to players, who maybe aren’t in the trenches play after play.
“Then there’s mental toughness,’’ he said. “Kicker is a noncontact position but there’s a lot of mental toughness in those specialists positions. Holders and kickers. There’s not only physical toughness but there’s and element of mental toughness that’s different than say, a guard’s toughness.’’
Belichick was asked about the significance of the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor and he reflected on the conversations he had with his dad, Steve, about the event.
“I’d say the lesson for our team is not what happened on Dec. 7 but the response from our nation, our military,’’ said the coach. “It was a tough time for this country but a great example of our patriotism … of our men and women pulling together.’’