The New England Patriots’ game against the New York Jets on Monday night came down to the wire: with three seconds remaining in the fourth quarter and the contest tied at 27, Nick Folk took the field to attempt a 51-yard field goal. The veteran kicker remained calm under pressure and with the hopes of the entire team resting on his shoulders, and split the uprights as time expired to give the Patriots their third win of the season.
Folks’ game-winning field goal — the longest kick of his season so far — was the high-point of a very strong game against his former club. Up until that point he had made both of his previous attempts, from 45 and 29 yards out, and also was perfect on all three of his extra point tries.
His 6-for-6 performance has not just helped New England beat its division rivals to improve to 3-5 on the season, it has now also earned Folk recognition as the AFC’s Special Teams Player of the Week — the third time in his 14-year career that he has won the award. Folk, who is the first Patriot to be named Player of the Week in either of the game’s three phases this season, has also won the trophy twice during his 2013 campaign with the Jets.
“Nick did a great job. He’s a tough kid, he came through for us obviously in a big way,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said about Folk’s performance after the 30-27 prime time victory. “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.”
Folk, who first arrived in New England last year as an injury replacement for Stephen Gostkowski, rejoined the team earlier this summer to compete against fifth-round rookie Justin Rohrwasser. While both were released on roster cutdown day and later signed to the practice squad, the veteran was able to carve out the top role and establish himself as a reliable presence in the Patriots’ kicking game operation. He has made 14 of 16 field goal attempts so far as well as 14 of 15 point-after kicks.