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Patriots position-by-position breakdown: Special teams 02.22.16 at 6:00 am ET
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Stephen Gostkowski's best kick may have been his game-winner against the Giants. (Jim O'Connor/USA Today Sports)

Stephen Gostkowski‘s best kick may have been his game-winner against the Giants. (Jim O’Connor/USA Today Sports)

With the Patriots done for the season, we’€™ve got an end-of-the-year position-by-position breakdown of where the Patriots stand and what figures to be the strengths and weaknesses for the team at that position going forward. We’€™ve looked at  the quarterbacks, secondary, the running backs, the linebackers, the wide receivers, the offensive line and the defensive line. Now it’s special teams:

Depth chart: Kicker Stephen Gostkowski (33-for-36 field goals), punter Ryan Allen (46 yards per punt), long-snapper Joe Cardona, kickoff returner Keshawn Martin (10 returns, 257 yards), punter returners Julian Edelman (10 returns, 81 yards) and Danny Amendola (23 returns, 276 yards).

Overview: The Patriots usually have one of the best special teams units in the league, but they did have their share of issues in 2015. They had a blocked punt returned for a touchdown and then allowed a punt to be returned for a touchdown in a November loss at home against the Eagles. In the game before that, an overtime loss to the Broncos, undrafted rookie Chris Harper muffed a punt in the fourth quarter, which turned the entire complexity of the game. Then, Gostkowski missed an extra point in the AFC title game, which forced the Patriots to go for a two-point conversion in the closing seconds in the 20-18 loss to Denver.

Besides those specific moments, Gostkowski and Allen had solid seasons. Allen had 42.5 percent of his punts finish inside the 20-yard line, the best percentage in his three years in the league. Gostkowski made the Pro Bowl, but was one of the seven Patriots named to the game who didn’t attend. His biggest kick came against the Giants when he kicked a 54-yard field goal as time expired to give the Patriots the win and keep their undefeated season going.

Who will stay? It would appear everyone will return for 2016. When it comes to the return game, Martin signed a contract extension towards the end of the 2015 season and it would seem the Patriots had special teams in mind when making that deal. Martin’s ability to return kicks and punts could take some of the pressure off Amendola and Edelman as they take enough hits as it is catching passes.

Who will go? At this point, it’s unlikely any of the players do not return.

By the numbers: 583 — The number of consecutive extra points Gostkowski made, including the playoffs, before his miss against the Broncos.

Read More: 2016 position-by-position breakdown, Danny Amenedola, Joe Cardona, Julian Edelman
Stephen Gostkowski moving on following missed PAT in AFC title game: ‘I’ve always been good at getting over things’ 02.14.16 at 2:46 pm ET
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One of the most talked about plays in the Patriots’ 20-18 loss to the Broncos in the AFC title game was Stephen Gostkowski‘s missed extra point in the first quarter, a point the Patriots were chasing the rest of the game and needed to go for a two-point conversion in the final seconds.

Speaking to ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss earlier this week, Gostkowski explained how he’s moved on and even noted how he moved on in the game quickly, making two kicks after the miss.

“I’€™ve always been hard on myself whenever I have a bad game, especially when we lose. But I’€™ve never once hung my head down,” Gostkowski told Reiss. “You have to have a short memory in this game, but I’€™m always hard on myself for a couple days, even when we win and I have a miskick. It’€™s a perfectionist’€™s job — you strive for perfection. I expect to make every kick, and when I don’€™t, it’€™s very frustrating. I probably practice tens of thousands of kicks for every one I’€™ve tried in a game, and when it doesn’€™t go your way, it can be hard to deal with. But I’€™ve always been good at getting over things and not sulking and letting it mount into one bad kick after the next. I came back and made my next two kicks in the game.

“I just think the way the game ended, at the end of the game, it kind of hit me, and you only have 10 minutes to think about what to say [to the media]. I’€™m the kind of person that would rather take more accountability than none at all. That’€™s just the way I was raised. When things don’€™t go your way, you can either sulk [and] make excuses or take accountability, and that’€™s how I feel I represent myself, my family and teammates in a positive way, even when things don’€™t go my way. That’€™s what I thought about in those 10 little minutes. It hurt because I care and I want to win. But I don’€™t hold my head low. I work hard, I’€™ve done a good job, and things don’€™t always go your way. I’€™m not going to make excuses. I just felt really bad that the season came to an end.”

Gostkowski had made an NFL-record 523 consecutive extra points (regular season) and all 60 extra point kicks in his career in the playoffs prior to the miss.

Read More: Stephen Gostkowski,
Pro Bowl K Dan Bailey offers support for Stephen Gostkowski 01.30.16 at 6:00 am ET
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Stephen Gostkowski got some support from Pro Bowl kicker Dan Bailey. (Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports)

Stephen Gostkowski got some support from Pro Bowl kicker Dan Bailey. (Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports)

NFL kickers around the league are very close because of the nature of their jobs and speaking at the Pro Bowl practice on Friday, Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey offered his support for Stephen Gostkowski and Blair Walsh, both of whom missed big kicks this postseason.

Bailey said he hasn’t contacted either of them, but he planned to.

“I wouldn’t be telling them anything they don’€™t know. We’€™ve all been there,” Bailey said via Sporting News. “I’€™ve been in situations where I’€™ve missed kicks that should’ve won the game. You just gotta be there, support them because you know they’d do the same for you.”

Gostkowski missed an extra point in the Patriots’ 20-18 loss to the Broncos in the AFC championship. Although it was in the first quarter, the Patriots were chasing that one point the whole game. Walsh missed a potential game-winning chip shot field goal when the Seahawks beat the Vikings in the wild card round.

The Cowboys kicker noted all the kickers around the league support one another.

“That’€™s what’€™s nice about this position ‘€” there’€™s only 32 of us at any given time,” Bailey said. “So it’€™s kind of a brotherhood. We all keep in touch somewhat. I wouldn’€™t say we’€™re all buddies hanging out, but there’€™s a mutual respect across the league for everybody who’s out there doing it.”

“It’s just nice to know you’€™ve got a group of guys pulling for you, even when the whole world seems like it’€™s crashing in on you,” he added. “It’€™s just part of it, and you gotta work through it.”

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Read More: Dan Bailey, Stephen Gostkowski,
Stephen Gostkowski, Malcolm Butler join other Patriots to drop out of Pro Bowl 01.26.16 at 2:40 pm ET
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Stephen Gostkowski is one of seven Patriots players to drop out of Pro Bowl. (Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports)

Stephen Gostkowski is one of seven Patriots players to drop out of Pro Bowl. (Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports)

Following the Patriots’ loss to the Broncos on Sunday, many have dropped out of this weekend’s Pro Bowl.

On top of Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, five other Patriots have dropped out of the game.

Giants cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and kicker Josh Brown were added to the roster, replacing Malcolm Butler and Stephen Gostkowski.

Other Patriots to drop out included Jamie Collins, replaced by Anthony Barr and defensive end Chandler Jones, replaced by Cameron Jordan.

Special teamer Matthew Slater also dropped out of the game, so none of the seven Patriots players selected will actually play in the game.

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

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Read More: 2016 Pro Bowl, Malcolm Butler, Stephen Gostkowski,
Vikings’ kicker offers show of support for Stephen Gostkowski after missed extra point at 1:05 pm ET
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Minnesota kicker Blair Walsh, who missed a potential game-winning field goal in a playoff loss to Seattle earlier this month, has Tweeted out a show of support for Stephen Gostkowski.

Gostkowski, who missed an extra-point in Sunday’s AFC title game against the Broncos, blamed himself for New England’s 20-18 loss to Denver. It was his first missed extra point since 2006.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

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Read More: Blair Walsh, Stephen Gostkowski,
Stephen Gostkowski: ‘I feel like I lost the game for the team’ 01.24.16 at 9:05 pm ET
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DENVER — In the way of the shocking 20-18 loss to the Denver Broncos in the AFC championship, no one felt worse than kicker Stephen Gostkowski.

He missed an extra point after New England’s first touchdown of the day in the first quarter that turned out to be a pivotal point in the game. For Gostkowski, who holds the NFL record for most consecutive extra points made, it was his first miss of an extra point since 2006, his rookie season.

The Patriots came back and scored a touchdown with 12 seconds left in regulation but the Patriots were forced to go for two because of Gostkowski’s miss in the first quarter.

“I just feel terrible,” Gostkowski said. “These guys work a lot all day, put their bodies and lives on the line. For me to come out here, and us to lose by a point, and me miss the kick, it’s a nightmare scenario. I can’t really explain how I feel right now. It’s just kind of shock and feel I let a lot of people down. It’s just not a good feeling.”

With 1:49 left in the first quarter, the Patriots kicker came on for what is, for him, a routine 33-yard point-after try. But this wasn’t. The snap and hold seemed good but Gostkowski pushed the kick wide right.

“I didn’t hit a good kick,” Gostkowski said. “I’m not one to make excuses. I should’ve made it. I’ve made hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of those. Sometimes timing is everything and I never would’ve thought missing a kick in the first quarter would be the difference in the game. That’s why you’ve got to be good all the time and that wasn’t the case for me today.

“I’m always upset when I have a bad play. It’s part of the job. I feel sorry for myself but I’m not expecting people to feel sorry for me. I work hard to be good. And I came up short today. I let a lot of people down, a lot of guys on the team, a lot of fans. All I can do now is stand up here and take it all on me. I feel like I lost the game for the team.

“I should’ve been out there kicking that tying extra point and helping us go into overtime. It’s a sinking in feeling. I can’t put it into words. Nothing I can do about it now. I had a good week of practice. Just sometimes things don’t fall your way.”

In the end, even with his teammates consoling him, he couldn’t help but feel awful.

“It’s a nightmare scenario,” he said. “You want to help the team win. You don’t want to be the reason you lose. It’s not a good feeling. I deserve all the blame that I get and I’ll try to hold my head up high. I’m not going to make an excuse. I should have done better. I’m sorry I couldn’t come through.”

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Read More: 2016 NFL playoffs, AFC Championship, Denver Broncos, New England Patriots
Broncos kicker Brandon McManus could play big role in AFC championship 01.21.16 at 4:26 pm ET
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Broncos kicker Brandon McManus could make a difference in Sunday's game. (Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY Sports)

Broncos kicker Brandon McManus could make a difference in Sunday’s game. (Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY Sports)

FOXBORO — Everyone knows Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski, but what about Broncos kicker Brandon McManus?

The 24-year old is in his second season in the league out of Temple.

Most recently he went 5-for-5 in the Broncos’ divisional round win over the Steelers, but has missed a few big kicks this year, which is always something to monitor when the difference between winning and losing could come down to a kick.

McManus was 30-for-35 overall this season, with all five of his misses coming from 40 or more yards away. He was 5-for-8 from 40-49 yards and 5-for-7 from 50 or more yards. His longest field goal on the year was 57 yards and he was also 35-for-36 on extra points.

His biggest miss came in Denver’s late season Monday Night Football matchup with the Bengals. McManus had a chance to win the game with four seconds left, but the kicker missed badly and the game went to overtime. Fortunately for the Broncos, they were able to come away with a win, but it was McManus’ first real clutch kick and he didn’t deliver.

For Gostkowski, he acknowledged kicking in Denver is different.

“I don’€™t say my pregame is different,” he said. “I just go into it with a different attitude. One of the best tips I’€™ve gotten was from Scott O’€™Brien, because he coached in Denver and he would see every other team come in there. I think the problem you can fall into is the idea that you can kick the ball off further, which will make you go out there and try to hit a home run every time. And you know what happens when a guy tries to hit a home run every time? They swing and miss a few times. So, knowing that the ball is going to go a little further, or it can go further, you still have to hit a good kick. They don’€™t give you extra points if you make a 50-yarder that goes over the net. You still have to make a good kick, and you still have to keep it straight.

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Read More: 2016 NFL playoffs, Brandon McManus, Stephen Gostkowski,

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