January 11, 2014 in Sports

Gostkowski, Vinatieri get kicks in NFL playoffs

Howard Ulman Associated Press

Tonight’s game

Colts at Patriots

Kickoff: 5:15 p.m.  TV: CBS

Line: Patriots by 7 O/U: 51 1/2

Synopsis: Indy comes off its scintillating comeback from a 28-point second-half deficit to beat Kansas City 45-44 last weekend. But passing could be tough here given the weather forecast, and the Colts are in trouble if they’re forced to the ground game (21st in NFL). Conversely, New England has become a run-oriented team despite the presence of QB Tom Brady – its ground game ranks No. 9, the pass attack No. 10. Pick: Patriots 23-17

Dan Caesar, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Stephen Gostkowski sings on the sideline when he prepares to kick. Then he tries a field goal that could win a big game for the New England Patriots.

“Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head,” might be appropriate tonight against the Indianapolis Colts with a spot in the AFC championship game at stake.

Steady rain is expected during the divisional playoff game, but Gostkowski says it’s his job to deal with all kinds of weather. Besides, the NFL scoring leader for the second straight season has a routine that helps him focus.

During the week “I’ll watch a five-minute (video) cut-up of some big kicks that I’ve made to a song that I like,” he said. “Then, when I’m on the sideline, I’ll sing that song and then, in my head, I see the ball going through the uprights.”

What’s that tune?

“It’s a secret,” Gostkowski said, smiling.

In eight seasons since the Patriots (12-4) drafted him in the fourth round out of Memphis in 2006, Gostkowski has made 85.6 percent of his regular-season field-goal attempts, fifth-best in NFL history. This season, his 92.7 percentage (38 of 41) was second-best in Patriots history.

The best? The 93.9 percent (31 of 33) in 2004 of Adam Vinatieri, the kicker Gostkowski replaced.

The 18-year veteran returns to Gillette Stadium with the Colts (12-5) after a regular season in which he made 87.5 percent (35 of 40) of his attempts.

And the kicker whose field goal on the last play gave the Patriots a 20-17 win over the St. Louis Rams in the 2002 Super Bowl expects the same greeting he heard in past visits with the Colts.

“They’re fanatical fans, like we have,” Vinatieri said. “I’m sure they’ll be loud and probably in a negative way to me and the rest of the team, but that’s what it’s supposed to be.”

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