Sports fans love a good redemption story, and the Tennessee Titans have a good one on their hands with kicker Stephen Gostkowski.
After missing three field goals and an extra point on a national stage in Week 1’s 16-14 win over the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football, many questioned if Gostkowski would even make it to Week 2.
Now, the Titans are 3-0 and Gostkowski has made the game-winning kick in every game.
"Stephen prepares and obviously we're very confident in him, and today we needed him to help the Titans win,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel stated. "Steve had a day today, we're appreciative of that, and we hung around just long enough to make the plays in the end."
"It's nice to be up here (during a postgame press conference) not in an embarrassed state and be excited for a victory,” Gostkowski said. “It's a lot more fun to be an asset than a liability."
Gostkowski is the first kicker with game-winning field goals in the final two minutes of regulation in each of his team’s first three games since 1970. He’s also the second kicker in the last 20 seasons with three go-ahead field goals in the final two minutes of three straight games, according to ESPN Stats & Info.
His performance in Sunday's 31-30 win over the Minnesota Vikings was nothing short of inspiring. The 36-year-old was 6-for-6 on field goals, including three from 50 yards or longer (51, 54, 55) and he made his only extra point attempt. He’s the second kicker in franchise history with six field goals in one game, joining Rob Bironas who had eight in 2007 (the NFL record for most field goals in one game).
The former University of Memphis standout was vintage Gostkowski — the kicker who is New England’s all-time leading scorer, the player who entered this season as an 87.5 percent kicker (fifth-best all-time) and a likely future hall of famer.
"You play this game for a long time, and you are going to have good and bad things happen," Gostkowski said. "Obviously, I was rusty that first game. I didn't feel great, and obviously played one of the worst games I've ever played. But the worst thing you can do is change everything; you need to stick with what gets you there.”
After costing the Titans 10 points against Denver, some were calling for Gostkowski’s job. And after all the kicking woes the Titans endured during the 2019 season, which included making an NFL-worst 8 of 18 kicks (44.4 percent), no one would have blamed General Manager Jon Robinson for looking at other placekickers heading into the Jacksonville game.
However, Gostkowski persevered. He’s tied for the league-lead with 9 field goals, already surpassing Tennessee’s eight field goals from last season. He’s also 4-for-4 from 50 yards or more this year. The most 50-plus-yard field goals h has ever kicked in a season was five in 2013 and he’s on track to smash that mark.
“I had my back up against the wall (after Week 1),” Gostkowski said. “It brought up emotions and feelings like I never had before. And to keep my head down and grind and have some good results, it means a lot."
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