It was a Monday night to forget for Titans kicker Stephen Gostkowski, even after making a game-winning kick.
Making his debut for the Titans, Gostkowski made a 25-yard, game-winning field goal with 17 seconds left in the team's 16-14 road win over the Denver Broncos on Monday night, but it was the four missed kicks prior to his game-winner that tempered his celebration.
"Felt good going into the game, strong week of practice," Gostkowski said. "First one felt good, pushed a little. Second one blocked and started to speed up after that. Needed to keep composure."
Gostkowski missed from 47 yards in the first quarter, 44 yards before the end of the first half, and from 42 yards in the third quarter. The kick missed in the second quarter was blocked by Broncos defensive lineman Shelby Harris. It was the first time Gostkowski missed three field goals in one game, and the missed PAT added to the insult. The 15th-year veteran has logged five seasons where he missed fewer than four field goals all year.
Gostkowski mentioned taking his shoe off at one point, trying to figure out was going wrong on this bad night.
"When I've been practicing in the summer, I practiced without socks all summer and then I started putting 'em on," Gostkoswki said. "I mean, I would've taken my pants off to make that last kick, to try something different. I wasn't doing very well, I had to switch something up, maybe just for mental sake. You know, just kind of a weird quirk I guess."
Titans coach Mike Vrabel said he had no worries about Gostkowski once he sent him in for the go-ahead score.
"It's like sitting there and being like, well it's been red 10 times on roulette so I'm gonna bet black because it's been red 10 times and it doesn't work that way," Vrabel said. "I just felt like we were gonna be able to make the field goal and that was the right play. That's the proper way to approach it and everybody did their job on the last one."
Gostkowski was signed by the Titans just days ahead of the 2020 season. The 36-year-old spent the past 14 seasons with the Patriots, where he became a three-time Super Bowl champion and a member of the 2010 All-Decade team. A hip injury limited his 2019 down to just four games and New England let him go this past March.
"I had a lot of confidence," said quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who drove the Titans into FG range with under two minutes remaining, in his postgame interview on ESPN. "Obviously, it didn't go clean the whole game like we like it to in the kicking game, but I had a lot of confidence. He's made a lot of big kicks in his career. So, really no hesitation he was going to make that thing."
Gostkowski missed three kicks last year in the Patriots' Week 2 road game in Miami, where he missed two PATs and a 48-yarder in what ended up being a 43-0 blowout win.
It remains to be seen what the Titans do with Gostkowski going forward, if they do anything at all. Their punter Brett Kern may have had no problem with the final 25-yard chip-shot for the win. Greg Joseph, who was waived by the Titans upon Gostkowski's arrival, remains a free agent.
"It's tough. It's part of the position," Gostkowski explained. "It's a very fickle position, it's definitely an opportunity I didn't deserve but grateful that I got it for the team and the guys that went out there and busted their butt. I really put 'em in a tough spot, you don't always get that much or even a get chance to redeem yourself. I'm just happy that the guys got to celebrate. I'm disappointed in myself and embarrassed and frustrated but at the end of the day we won and luckily guys are happy going home."