The New England Patriots were on the verge of a fifth straight defeat on Monday night, but they were able to come back from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter by playing some impressive complementary football. The offense made numerous big plays to put points on the board, the defense made the stops when it had to, and the kicking game operation put the finishing touches on the 30-27 victory over the New York Jets.
One man in particular played an important role in this operation: place kicker Nick Folk.
Folk had made both of his field goal attempts and all three point-after tries up until the game’s final seconds, but his sixth kick with three ticks remaining would be his most difficult. Not only was the weight of the entire team on his shoulders with the contest tied at 27, he also had to tie his longest attempt as a Patriot by splitting the uprights from 51 yards out.
Folk did just that in impressive fashion. As the clock hit 0:00, his potentially game-winning field goal sailed dead center down the field before hitting its intended target to give the Patriots a hard-fought victory over their division rivals.
“I hit it pretty well right away, and then as soon as I saw it kind of go 20 yards down the field I knew it was going to stay pretty true,” said Folk during his media conference call after the game. “I knew I had enough leg to get it there. Obviously, playing at MetLife [Stadium] for so long, night games are usually the easiest, I would say, with the weather — the wind anyway. So, I kind of knew that. I’m just happy to get a win.”
Folk’s experience playing on the Jets’ home turf comes from his time with the club. The 36-year-old, who is in his second season as a Patriot, spent seven years in New York and appeared in 107 total games for the team — a significant portion being place at MetLife Stadium. It may no longer be home field for him, but he knew how to handle the conditions.
“Nick did a great job. He’s a tough kid, he came through for us obviously in a big way,” Bill Belichick said about Folk after the game. “He’s really been consistent for us over the last year-and-a-half. There couldn’t be a bigger kick, and he put it right down the middle. Awesome job on his part.”
Belichick also went on to praise the protection up front against a solid rushing team like the Jets, while also mentioning the role of long snapper Joe Cardona and holder Jake Bailey. In the end, though, New England’s head coach returned to the veteran kicker.
“Great job by Nick.”
Folk’s final field goal against the Jets is just the latest in a series of impressive kicks made by the 13-year veteran. While the others may lack the dramatic element that naturally comes with game-winners, they were still immensely important for a team whose offense repeatedly struggled to finish drives and put points on the board. Folk, meanwhile, has done just that on a consistent basis.
So far this year he has made 14 of 16 field goal attempts for a pretty decent success rate of 87.5 percent. He also hit the mark on 93.3 percent of extra points, or 14 of 15. The numbers may not be as spectacular as those posted by other kickers, but they do play an important role in the Patriots’ success — most prominently against the Jets on Monday night.