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More Gostkowski vs. Vinatieri: The Rookie Seasons

Did Vinatieri Have a Better First Year?
Or Has Gostkowski Got It Going?

Vinatieri: 89 kickoffs, 9 touchbacks (10.1%), 20.8 return average, 0 onside
Longest field goal: 50 yards
1 field goal blocked

Gostkowski: 81 kickoffs, 12 touchbacks (14.8%), 23.0 return average, 1 onside (not rec)
Longest field goal: 52 yards
2 field goals blocked. But I can guarantee you, Vinatieri did not play on a field in 1996 like the one on which Gostkowski had his two kick blocked.

New England Patriots rookie placekicker Stephen Gostkowski (left)
has had a comparable first year to the last rookie
placekicker in Foxboro -- current Indianapolis kicker Adam Vinatieri.

Photo Courtesy:

Whilst discussing Stephen Gostkowski and Adam Vinatieri with a Vinatieri Diehard, said diehard (who was also a Bledsoe-over-Brady Backer) said "Vinatieri had more pressure on him his rookie year, because the Patriots weren't that good" and the Patriots needed Adam to score more points.

Is that so? Are those the same Bledsoe-led Patriots that went to the Super Bowl. (There's some "Destiny Talk" for all you superstitious fans: The last time the Patriots had a rookie placekicker, they went to the Super Bowl.)

Of course, we all remember Vinatieri's heroics in the Snow Bowl. But what were weather conditions like in 1996?

  • 10/13, 27-22 loss vs Washington. Conditions: Sunny. Temp.: 60 deg. Humidity: 79. Wind: NW 10 mph.
  • 10/20, 27-9 win @ Indianapolis. Conditions: indoors.
  • 10/27, 28-25 win vs. Buffalo. Conditions: Cloudy, cool. Temp.: 59 deg. Humidity: 69. Wind: E 10 mph.
  • 11/3, 42-23 win vs. Miami. Conditions: Sunny, windy, cold. Temp.: 47 deg. Humidity: 39. Wind: W 20 mph.
  • 11/10, 31-27 win @ N.Y. Jets. Conditions: Mostly cloudy. Temp.: 45 deg. Humidity: 67. Wind: W 10 mph. Wind chill: 34.
  • 11/17, 34-8 loss vs. Denver. Conditions: Sunny, light wind. Temp.: 55 deg. Humidity: 33. Wind: W 10 mph.
  • 11/24, 27-13 win vs Indianapolis. Conditions: Sunny, light wind. Temp.: 43 deg. Humidity: 59. Wind: N 15 mph.
  • 12/1, 45-7 win @ San Diego. Conditions: Clear. Temp.: 58 deg. Humidity: 49. Wind: WSW 9 mph.
  • 12/8, 34-10 win vs. N.y. Jets. Conditions: Night; windy. Temp.: 46 deg. Humidity: 73. Wind: 15 mph.
  • 12/15, 12-6 loss @ Dallas. Conditions: Cloudy. Temp.: 41 deg. Humidity: 60. Wind: N 15 mph.
  • 12/21, 23-22 win @ N.Y. Giants. Conditions: Sunny. Temp.: 24 deg. Humidity: 57. Wind: NW 6 mph. Wind chill: 18.
Hardly cold. No snow. No rain. Only the last game colder than 40 degrees. Only two wins with tight scores. New England was up 28-18 in the Buffalo game (no last second heroics). The Patriots trailed the Giants 22-16 and won on a touchdown (none there either).

So Vinatieri played in no adverse conditions in his rookie year, and at no time late in the year was he called upon to make a crucial field goal.

What about the Super Bowl run? What impact did Vinatieri have in the 1996 playoffs?

Give up?

OK. Vinatieri had 4 extra points in a 28-3 win over Pittsburgh, 2 field goals and 2 extra points in a 20-6 win over Jacksonville, and 3 extra points in a 35-21 loss to Green Bay. Vinatieri's two field goals were from 20 and 29 yards. Not a single high-pressure, range borderline, game-on-the-line kick.

So don't worry about Gostkowski. With the current weather patterns, he's not going to be kicking in Snow Bowl conditions, and if a game comes down to a 54-yard kick with 3 seconds left on the clock, then the team didn't put Gostkowski (or themselves) in the best situation to win, and we'll have to live with it.

Of course, if that happens and he makes the kick ...

Before Vinatieri skipped town, Bob Lobel used to say, "Adam and Leave" after games in which Vinatieri made an important kick. Does anyone have any idea what that means? I have no clue.

I have a suggestion for Lobel to use when the new kicker makes a big kick: Gostkowski and Go.

I still don't really know what it means, but at least it's alliterative.


Who had the better rookie season? Vinatieri or Gostkowski?

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