The New England Patriots ended up scoring 29 points against the Detroit Lions in Week 5, but their offense continued to have its ups and downs in the shutout victory. Obviously, some inconsistency had to be expected with fourth-round rookie Bailey Zappe making his first career start at quarterback. The group could still have fared better in some areas.
It converted just three of nine third downs, for example, and as a consequence was also unable to score a single touchdown when inside the Lions red zone. New England went 0-for-4 when reaching the area within 20 yards of the Detroit end zone.
Those issues need to be addressed, but they did not cost New England on Sunday. Kicker Nick Folk, after all, continued to show why he is the team’s Mr. Dependable.
Folk ended the game making all five of his field goals, splitting the uprights from 37, 32, 44, 37 and 29 yards out. He also was successful on both of his extra point attempts, ending the game with a total of 17 points.
The veteran was able to do all that despite conditions at Gillette Stadium being less than ideal against the Lions. A east-to-west crosswind put pressure on the kicking operation throughout the day. As he has throughout his time in New England, however, Folk adapted well and as a result also drew substantial praise from head coach Bill Belichick after the game.
“Nick is so consistent,” Belichick said. “You kind of start taking it for granted and then you realize, how difficult it was. [Sunday] was not an easy day to kick. The wind gusted and it was blowing straight across the field, really from our bench to their bench. When you kick straight into it, you can’t kick it as far, but it goes straight if you kick with it; it goes further and it pushes the ball. But the crosswind, especially when it gusts, is tough.
“But Nick makes it look so easy. Honestly, it’s kind of what it’s like in practice. We get some wind out there, some crazy wind, and that ball goes in between the uprights just all the time.”
On the year, Folk is now 9-for-10 on field goal attempts as well as a perfect 10-for-10 on point-after kicks. His combined success rate of 95 percent is tied for the fourth best in the league among place kickers trying at least 10 combined kicks.
Folk’s lone miss of the year came from 52 yards away in Week 2 in Pittsburgh, which also means that his NFL-record streak of field goals from within 50 yards is still intact as well: adding five more such kicks versus the Lions, the 37-year-old has now made 63 straight.
The previous such record, which he broke in Week 3 versus Baltimore, stood at 56.
“I can’t say enough about Nick Folk,” Belichick added in his assessment of the Patriots’ kicker. “He’s so professional, so consistent, so dependable. And when you stop and think about how hard that job is, over the amount of time we’re talking about, it’s really, really impressive.”