Consistency has long been the mantra of the New England Patriots. That goes for offense, defense, and special teams.
Most New England Patriots fans are old enough to remember Adam Vinatieri's clutch 2001 postseason in which he drained two kicks in heavy snow against the Oakland Raiders, including the game-winner, and also nailed a kick in the closing seconds of Super Bowl XXXVI to clinch New England's first Super Bowl title.
When the Patriots failed to re-sign Vinatieri and let him go to the Colts, I knew karma would kick New England in the ass, but boy, was I unprepared for all that. It has almost matched the Curse of the Bambino, as the Colts have gone on to win a Super Bowl and have even beaten the Patriots on a few clutch Vinatieri kicks.
Stephen Gostkowski hasn't been historic the way Vinatieri was, but he's been every bit as consistent as his predecessor. New England showed their gratitude and knowledge of the term "once burned, twice shy" by giving Gostkowski a four year extension worth $14 million as reported by NFL.com.
While the glamour positions are great, kicker is by far the most underrated position on the roster.
With the game on the line, it's important to send out a kicker that the team can have confidence in, no matter the situation.
Gostkowski has done nothing to betray that confidence, sinking an incredible 85 percent of his kicks. He's not Sebastian Janikowski out there, blasting kicks of over 50-yards at will, but he has made both of his career attempts from that distance.
Gostkowski's consistency goes further than 50 yards, though. In fact, it goes over 70 yards, as Gostkowski has mastered the art of forcing opposing returners to take a knee in the end zone off his kick-offs, if they are able to even get their hands on the ball before it goes out the back of the end zone.
One particular instance comes to mind in the 2008 regular season game against the Buffalo Bills at home.
Gostkowski booted a kickoff through the back of the end zone, only to hear the one word that will make every special teamer roll their eyes, and any special teams coach pull their hair out: "offsides."
A 10-yard penalty was assessed, leaving Gostkowski to kick from New England's 20-yard line. So what did he do? Booted it clear through the back of the end zone yet again, traveling over 85 yards before even touching the ground.
That's consistency you can count on. That's consistency that earns you a contract extension with the Patriots.