FOXBOROUGH — The Patriots had a big decision to make late in Super Bowl LIII. Holding a 10-3 lead with 1:16 left, the options were plenty as they faced a fourth-and-1 from the Rams’ 24.
They could put the ball in the hands of Sony Michel, who had already gained 41 yards on the drive, they could put it on the arm of Tom Brady, or they could put it on the foot of Stephen Gostkowski.
“Why don’t we just kick a field goal,’’ Brady asked/said during a sideline conference with Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels. Seconds later, Gostkowski nailed a 41-yarder to seal the 13-3 victory.
Though the clip of the discussion has been seen by millions, Gostkowski is not one of them.
“I don’t watch that stuff,” he said. “I’m glad we won, I’m glad I made that kick. The Patriot Way — that’s in the past. We’re moving forward.
“Any time your team has confidence in you, it’s cool, but I don’t go back. I haven’t watched one Super Bowl that we’ve played in. I don’t ever want to get too high or too low.’’
There was a chance that could have been the final memory of Gostkowski’s Patriots career, as the veteran became a free agent shortly after his kick sailed between the uprights.
After what Gostkowski described as a “weird” month of free agency, he came to terms on a two-year deal to stay in New England. The pact is worth up to $8.5 million for the franchise’s all-time leading scorer.
“I played 13 years and I had never been a free agent, so I had no idea what to expect,’’ he said. “Having a lot of time to sit back and think about what I really wanted reassured me how much I really did want to be here. I couldn’t have been happier that it worked out the way it did.
“It was a weird experience. Eight, nine years ago when I didn’t have kids and a family and roots here, it’s a completely different ballgame and being able to take my time and think about what I really wanted and go over all the factors.’’
Staying in New England for his entire career is his goal.
“It’s nice when other teams show interest in you and stuff like that, but at the end of the day I would like to try to finish where I started,’’ said the 35-year-old. “That meant a lot to me. It meant a lot to my kids and my family and we are ecstatic to have two more shots to play for the Patriots.’’
Gostkowski, a four-time Pro Bowler, is coming off another solid season, in which he hit 27 of 32 field goal attempts and continued to be adept at kickoffs.
“To be able to have a chance to [kick for] one of the most high-pressure teams in the history of sports and have a chance to continue to do it, I think it would be tough to go somewhere else,’’ he said.
“And you know, the grass might seem greener on the other side, but it’s not always that way. I kind of like the challenge of being here.’’
In the right place
James Develin, who scored four touchdowns last season (bringing his career total to five), wasn’t the least bit disappointed about not being invited to the Pro Bowl after earning an invite in 2017. “No, I was happy to be in the Super Bowl,’’ said the burly fullback, who is sporting a Bruins-like playoff beard. “That’s the real bowl we’re playing for. I didn’t really pay any attention to that. I was just happy to be playing in early February.’’ . . . Gostkowski is one of the few current Patriots who were around during Ben Watson’s first tour of duty here. “I remember walking in as a rookie and I was like, ‘That dude looks like the Under Armour mannequin.’ ’’ Gostkowski said, adding that it’s “good to have one of the oldies back.’’
The Patriots reached agreement on a contract with first-round pick N’Keal Harry, according to a league source. ESPN reported the deal is worth $10,098,348 over four years, and includes a signing bonus of $5,364,252. All first-round deals come with a fifth-year team option. Third-round picks Chase Winovich and Damien Harris are the lone selections of the team’s 10-member draft class not under contract, but a league source said both are expected to sign deals soon . . . Undrafted free agents Xavier Ubosi and Calvin Anderson, whom the Patriots released Monday, were claimed on waivers by the Jets.
Gostkowski noted that New England’s win over the Rams marked the third trip to the Super Bowl for his daughter, Lyla, who had not yet turned 3 at the time . . . The Patriots lost some key free agents, but there’s a big compensatory silver lining coming their way for the 2020 draft. According to Nick Korte, the compensatory pick formula guru from OverTheCap.com, New England should land a pair of third-round picks for losing defensive end Trey Flowers (Lions) and left tackle Trent Brown (Raiders), as well as a couple of sixth-rounders for losing receiver Cordarrelle Patterson (Bears) and defensive tackle Malcom Brown (Saints).