Nick Folk had made a franchise-record 36 field goals when he attempted to lift the New England Patriots past the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 4. Lining up for the potential game winner late in the fourth quarter, he faced a difficult challenge: splitting the uprights from 56 yards away.
Folk’s kick had the distance, but it was not accurate enough. It bounced off the left upright, ending the Patriots’ hopes of upsetting the reigning world champions.
One week later, Folk again had some issues. His first kicking attempt versus the Houston Texans — a point-after try following a first-quarter touchdown — sailed off the mark to the left. Two attempts, two straight misses for the usually reliable veteran.
However, as he pointed out after the game, kickers need a short memory. Folk certainly proved that he has one for the remainder of the game in Houston: he was flawless after his early miss, making all four of his field goal attempts as well as another extra point. The Patriots beat the Texans in large part due to their place kicker finding his groove again.
“You’re only as good as your next kick,” Folk said after the game. “So, you just have to worry about the next one. That last one didn’t matter [after] last week, it was over. Picked the corrections from it, fixed some stuff there. Your most important one’s the next one. So, we’ll look at this and then get ready for Dallas.”
Folk made a 52-yard field goal late in the second quarter against Houston and then hit another one from that same distance in the third period. He also added a 32-yarder before once again lining up for the likely game-winner. The kick was an easier one compared to Week 4, but the job still needed to be done. Folk did just that and was good on a 21-yard try with only 15 seconds remaining.
“It’s just like any other drive really. Thinking of my routine, trying to get ready wherever the ball is one the field,” he said of his late-game preparation.
After the game, Folk likened getting another shot at a game-winning field goal to popular 80s movie Top Gun.
“Just wanna get back in the saddle and get back going again,” he said. “I guess the way I kind of look at it is a little Top Gun in here — when Maverick loses Goose and they want to get him back in the saddle pretty quick. That’s me. I want to get back out there and help the team win as best I can.”
Folk did just that on Sunday, and really the entire season despite his Week 4 miss: he has made 14 of 15 field goals so far as well as 6 of 8 PATs.