And though the Patriots scored 35 straight points in one second-half stretch, there remains the fact that Gostkowski has missed three field goals this season, including what would have been the winning points against the Cardinals in Week 2.
Gostkowski missed five in all of 2011.
The two misses against Buffalo came in the second quarter, the first a 49-yard attempt, the second a 42-yarder.
“I don’t know,” coach Bill Belichick said, of what went wrong for Gostkowski. “I’d have to take a look at it. They were both fairly close. We’ve got to make those kicks. But it’s the whole group — it’s the snap, it’s the hold, it’s the kick, it’s everything.”
Gostkowski did come back to hit his final attempt, a 30-yarder that capped the scoring with 1:56 left in the game.
“Just felt like it was another opportunity for us to kick under pressure,” Belichick said.
Gostkowski did not speak to the media after the game.
After Rob Ninkovich had just seven tackles through the first three games — including an 0-fer in the opener against Tennessee — there were some questions about whether he was struggling and if he was having a hard time handling being a full-time defensive end.
Turns out, Ninkovich wasn’t happy with his play, either.
“You know, I hold myself accountable,” he said. “The previous couple of games I didn’t feel I was active enough and just changing things up on the offense. I was able to go out there and change up my rush styles, change up inside-outside moves, just kind of get back to being more energetic, I guess. Just getting after the ball — that was my mentality in this game and that will be my mentality moving forward.”
Ninkovich and Brandon Spikes were each credited with seven tackles Sunday, leading the team. Ninkovich also had a sack late in the third quarter on third and long, pushing right tackle Erik Pears back, then shedding Pears and taking down Ryan Fitzpatrick for a 5-yard loss.
Fitzpatrick fumbled on the play, but he was able to recover.
Devin McCourty, who received his share of criticism after the Ravens game, when he let two interceptions go through his hands and was called for a pass-interference penalty on Baltimore’s last possession, had a strong game, pulling in his first two interceptions of the season. The Patriots improved to 9-0 when McCourty has at least one interception.
McCourty, who spent some extra time catching balls last week, came down with a pass intended for T.J. Graham that was a touch short, and got his second in the fourth quarter.
On that play, McCourty picked off a pass intended for Stevie Johnson and returned it 34 yards. He looked to be headed for the end zone before running out of space on the sideline and getting pushed out of bounds at the 12.
McCourty declined to comment on his performance, so it was left to his good friend and fellow corner Kyle Arrington.
“It was great to see him go out there and make plays,” Arrington said. “We’re each other’s biggest fans — he’s mine and I’m his — and that’s really everybody on defense.”
Gronkowski fights back
Rob Gronkowski didn’t play a big role in the game against Baltimore, but he played a part early and often against the Bills — though his outing wasn’t without a hiccup.
The tight end, who appeared on the injury report Friday with a hip ailment, had a 41-yard fingertip reception on New England’s second possession to set up a Stevan Ridley touchdown, with he and Daniel Fells leading the way for the running back.
But later in the opening half, Gronkowski pulled in a pass over the middle and had the ball knocked loose by safety Jairus Byrd, who recovered the fumble. Gronkowski also had his hands on a ball near the goal line on the Patriots’ first drive of the third quarter, but it was knocked out by rookie Stephon Gilmore.Continued...