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Kicking game marches on through weather - The Sun Chronicle : Patriots

Kicking game marches on through weather

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Posted: Monday, December 30, 2013 12:31 am

FOXBORO - Neither the wind, the snow nor the rain could stop Stephen Gostkowski, Ryan Allen and Danny Aiken from delivering performances in the Patriot Way Sunday - impeccable and with precision.

Gostkowski re-wrote his own Patriot record for field goals in a season (38) with successful kicks of 43, 35, 29 and 35 yards in the challenging climatic circumstances.

"It doesn't get much tougher than that," said Gostkowski. "You just focus on how you go about things. That's why we practice outside, no matter what (weather conditions) it is. The coaches know that they're doing - it pays off."

New England generated field goals on three of its five first-half offensive possessions, important because the Patriots scored just 16 points through three quarters in the 14-point victory over Buffalo.

"You don't see it too often when the artificial field puddles up," said Aiken, who delivered perfect snaps to Allen on all four of Gostkowski's field goals and two conversion kicks and on three snaps to Allen for punts. "We make it an issue to work on those types of situations as often as we can, as a group and as a team."

Allen belted a 53-yard punt into the wind and against the rain during the second quarter to the Buffalo 7-yard line and had a 52-yarder for a touchback in the third quarter. "It could have been colder, it could have been windier," dead-panned Allen of the weather. "The rain was consistent throughout the whole time, so after the first couple of snaps, you got a good feel for it."

Gostkowski led the NFL this season in points (158), the third time that he has led the league in scoring - surpassing Gino Cappelletti's Patriot single-season record of 155 points set during the 1964 season. Gostkowski hit 38 of 41 field goal attempts, tying his career single-game best with the four field goals and he has made 24 straight fourth-quarter field goals, hitting 63 of 65 during that span over his career in New England.

As for holding the ball for Gostkowski or taking snaps from Aiken, Allen stated in typical Patriot fashion that "that's why we practice, why we stick to our progression."

Allen wore a glove on one hand to grip the ball while holding for Gostkowski's kicks, but prefers a bare hand. "Our confidence was never lacking, it's something we work on - the one, two or three things that you need to do. Even with the sun, sometimes, you have issues. A lot of it is confidence and making it simple."

But, it was hardly anything but routine for the Patriot kicking fraternity.

"What a fun team win, the fans hanging out and all," said Gostkowski of the bravado, changing into dry socks at halftime. "You had to be 100 percent on every facet, luckily it wasn't crazy windy.

"I've never been in anything close to that, I've never practiced in anything like that - raining that hard for two and a half-hours, three inches of rain on the field."

The sometimes monotonous nature of practicing snaps and kicks and situations was well worth the effort on a saturated Sunday like it was in Foxboro. "We take a lot of pride in what we do, on a day-to-day basis," said Aiken of the trio's chemistry. "It was wild, I've never played in wind and rain like that.

"It's just muscle memory - you focus on the laces, you play with the elements. You work on it, you get used to it - it's how we get better as a team. It's cold, but your adrenalin gets pumping. That was something special."

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