Thursday, January 9, 2014

Whatever works: Gostkowski pregames with Enya


New England Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski has made some pretty clutch kicks this season, and with each one came a similar routine; just probably not the routine you'd expect.

According to the veteran, it starts with a little greatest hits video of some key conversions, tied to a favorite song in order hone in some positive energy. By game time, however, don't expect to hear Dropkick Murphys blaring from the headphones.

Quite the opposite, actually.

"I always just try to visualize myself doing well and not getting overexcited or too hyped up in the moment," Gostkowski said, Thursday via "Most of those guys are banging heads. I’m trying to like listen to Enya before the game to calm myself down.

"All I do is just try to – the worst thing you can do in situations where, for me personally, where the situation gets bigger is get too excited. You have to try to slow your heart rate down, turn that nervousness and tightness into focus and if you just try to do that and do what you do on every other kick then most of the time you’ll be successful. That’s just the approach that I take."

Whatever's he's doing, it's working.

Gostkowski's touted a top-10 field goal percentage all year, finishing off the regular season with a nearly 93 percent completion rate (sixth-best). He's made five of six kicks from 50 yards or more and every kick inside 40 yards, which includes a handful of game winners.

New England may very well need that boot Saturday, as they go up against a defense that's ranked ninth in points allowed (21 per game).

On top of that, Indy's special teams group has done a good job of rattling opposing kickers. Only 76.7 percent of kicks have been completed against their unit this season, which is second only to St. Louis's squad for the lowest percentage against.

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