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Top kickers to meet when Patriots face Colts

Don't expect any misses when Stephen Gostkowski and the player he replaced as the New England Patriots kicker nearly a decade ago play on the same field Sunday night.


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) - One after another, Stephen Gostkowski's kicks keep going through the uprights.

Just like Adam Vinatieri's.

Don't expect any misses when Gostkowski and the player he replaced as the New England Patriots kicker nearly a decade ago play on the same field Sunday night.

Gostkowski is on target for his third straight NFL scoring title with a league-high 101 points. Vinatieri, in his ninth season with the Indianapolis Colts, is as accurate as he's ever been in his 19-year career, making all 20 of his field goal attempts.

''Waiting for him to miss, you'll be waiting all day,'' Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Tuesday.

Vinatieri is second in the NFL with 92 points, but Gostkowski doesn't measure himself against his predecessor. His main concern is that he succeeds whenever he gets a chance.

''If he goes out and kicks nine field goals, it's not going to affect me one way or the other,'' Gostkowski said. ''I don't care who's the best, who's not the best. All I care about is helping this team win.''

Check out a selection of the best images of Patriots Pro Bowl K Stephen Gostkowski from the 2013-14 NFL Season.

Gostkowski has made 24 of 25 field goal attempts this season, missing only a 36-yarder on a poor snap.

Now he needs just seven points to reach 1,131 and pass Gino Cappelletti as the second highest scorer in team history.

On top of the list?

Vinatieri with 1,158, just 36 points ahead.

''I've been fortunate to be on a really good team with a really good offense,'' Gostkowski said. ''There could be the best kicker on the world on a bad team, and no one would ever get to see it.''

Both kickers have spent their careers with productive offenses that provided plenty of field-goal and extra-point chances.

The Patriots drafted Gostkowski in the fourth round in 2006 after Vinatieri, who wanted a long-term contract with them, signed as a free agent with the Colts,

Since then, New England leads the NFL with 4,124 points, 302 more than second-place New Orleans, according to STATS Inc.

During Vinatieri's 10 seasons with the Patriots, they were seventh in the league in scoring. The Colts are seventh in his nine seasons with them.

''I have nothing but the utmost respect for how good he is, has been and still is,'' Gostkowski said, ''but I've never been one to be looking at something that someone else has done, and thinking, `Oh, man, I wish I could do that.' You're only as good as your opportunities.

''So far I think I've done a pretty good job of it, and no one's made more of his opportunities than Adam has.''

There was Vinatieri's last-play, 48-yard field goal that gave New England a 20-17 win over St. Louis in the Super Bowl of the 2001 season. Two years later, he kicked a 41-yarder with four seconds left in a 32-29 Super Bowl win over Carolina. And the next year, he kicked a fourth-quarter field goal in another Super Bowl win, 24-21 over Philadelphia.

The Patriots lost both Super Bowls that Gostkowski played in, against the New York Giants. He didn't try a field goal in a 17-14 loss in the 2007 season and made his only attempt in a 21-17 loss in the 2011 season.

!''I've taken advantage of most of my opportunities and that's all I can ask for,'' Gostkowski said.

Vinatieri struggled in his second game with the Patriots, missing three of four field-goal attempts in a 31-0 win over Buffalo in 1996.

''He wasn't the kicker then that he is now,'' Belichick said. ''Right now, I don't think anybody is kicking better than he is.''

Both kickers have been outstanding since the start of last season. Gostkowski has made 62 of 66 field goal attempts and Vinatieri has hit 55 of 60.

Vinatieri, though, has had the benefit of kicking inside a dome with Indianapolis and is 111-for-121 in home games with the Colts.

Gostkowski must deal with often windy, cold conditions in Foxborough Stadium.

''Doesn't make the job any easier,'' he said.

He's also dealt with the attention of the games against Vinatieri. There's only been one season since Vinatieri left and Gostkowski arrived that the teams didn't face each other.

''I had to answer all the questions for it in my rookie year, but it never truly bothered me,'' Gostkowski said. ''It was cool to be on a team that he was on. I never looked at it as a negative, but I honestly don't think about stuff like that, especially now in my career.

''Being halfway through my ninth year, the story's so old.''

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