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Matthew Slater: ‘It was a perfect kick by Stephen Gostkowski’

12.08.13 at 11:20 pm ET
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FOXBORO – With already two miraculous comebacks at home this season, the Patriots may have outdone themselves Sunday afternoon in their 27-26 win over the Browns.

Trailing by 12 with just over two minutes to play in the game, Julian Edelman hauled in a two-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady making it 26-21 with 1:01 remaining and then the Patriots recovered a Stephen Gostkowski onside kick, setting up Danny Amendola’s game-winning one-yard touchdown catch with 31 seconds left in regulation sending what was left of the Gillette Stadium crowd into jubilation.

The most significant play of their two touchdowns in 30 seconds outburst was Kyle Arrington’s onside kick recovery.

Stephen Gostkowski

Stephen Gostkowski

According to author Bob Hyldburg, it was the first time in Patriots history that the team recovered an onside kick and then converted the ensuing possession into a game-winning score. The last time the Patriots recovered an onside kick was 1995 in a Wild Card game against the Browns where Bill Belichick was on the opposing sideline, but even with the recovery the Patriots fell 20-13 — this time it was a much sweeter outcome for the Patriots.

Gostkowski’s kick went to the middle of the field where it was touched by Cleveland’s Fozzy Whitaker and then Arrington alertly pounced on the ball giving the Patriots possession at the Browns’ 40-yard line.

“It was a perfect kick by Stephen [Gostkowski],” special teams captain Matthew Slater said. “I don’t think he could have kicked that any better. The way we practiced it, I don’t think he’s ever kicked it that good. What can you say about Stephen and the year that he’s had? He’s been so reliable for us game in and game out, so I’m really not surprised that he executed like that because of the year he is having. Kyle [Arrington] did a great job of being alert and getting on the ball and we executed the ball the way we ideally drew it up.”

For Gostkowski and all kickers for that matter, it’s something they practice a lot, but very rarely does it come up in live game situations.

“I’ve probably only done like four to five [onside kicks] in a game, even going back to high school,’’ said Gostkowski. “It’s just one of those things that you have to focus on what you’re doing and give your team a chance. It’s a very low-percentage play. You work on it in practice and you say that we’re never going to use it. That’s the way you feel. Then it feels worth it when it works in a big situation.’’

Overall it was the 11th onside kick recovered by the Patriots in franchise history, but just second in a win. The other came in September of 1964 when Jim Lee Hunt recovered a Gino Cappelletti onside kick at the end of the first half.

Despite the rareness of such a play, Belichick would rather not get into the specifics as it could come into play once again this season.

“I’d rather not talk about the strategy of that,” he said. “That stuff’s going to come up again. We do what we think is best, let’s put it that way.”

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