Kickers are a superstitious bunch
Tom Brady wasn’t the only former Patriots great to look washed up playing for a new team in Week 1.
Stephen Gostkowski, winner of three Super Bowls and one of the most accurate kickers in NFL history, had a horrendous game in his Titans debut. He missed four kicks (three field goals and an extra point). The first was a 47-yard attempt that sailed wide to the right. He made the PAT on Tennessee’s first touchdown of the night, but on the next possession attempted a field goal from 41 that Shelby Harris got a fingertip on. He missed a 42-yard attempt on the Titans’ first possession of the second half and then missed an extra point after a touchdown on the next offensive series.
This is a guy most people agree will be in the Hall of Fame some day, and he was kicking like an amateur. Something clearly needed to change for Gostkowski, so after the missed PAT, ESPN’s cameras caught him on the sideline with the sock and shoe missing from his kicking foot.
At that point, you couldn’t have blamed Gostkowski for trying to boot the ball through the uprights with his bare foot, or blamed Titans coach Mike Vrabel for confiscating his kicker’s footwear to ensure he wouldn’t take the field again.
But Gostkowski got one last shot to redeem himself. After Broncos coach Vic Fangio woefully mismanaged the clock, Gostkowski trotted out to try a 25-yarder that would give the Titans the win. Mercifully, it went through.
If you look closely in this photo, you can see that Gostkowski wasn’t wearing a sock on his kicking foot on that final attempt.
Gostkowski explained after the game that he just felt he need to do something to switch it up.
“When I’d been practicing in the summer, I practiced without socks all summer,” he told reporters. “Then I started putting them on. I mean, I would have taken my pants off to make that last kick to try something different. I wasn’t doing very well. I had to switch something up, maybe just for mental sake. It’s just kind of a weird quirk, I guess.”
As long as it worked, no questions asked.
Overall, though, Gostkowski said he was “embarrassed” of how he performed but grateful to have that opportunity to redeem himself at the end.
“You don’t always get that lucky to get a chance to redeem yourself,” Gostkowski told reporters. “But I’m just happy that the guys got to celebrate. I’m disappointed in myself and embarrassed and frustrated, but at the end of the day, we won, and luckily, guys are happy going home.”
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