FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - Wide receiver Wes Welker and kicker Stephen Gostkowski have been selected to represent the New England Patriots and the AFC at the 2009 Pro Bowl in Honolulu on Feb. 8. Both players have earned their first career Pro Bowl selection.
Welker is the fifth Patriots wide receiver to earn Pro Bowl honors since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, joining Randy Moss (2007), Troy Brown (2001), Terry Glenn (1999) and Stanley Morgan (1979-80 and 1986-87). Welker ranks second in the NFL with 102 receptions so far this season - the second highest single-season total in team history behind his franchise-record 112 receptions last year. Welker is the eighth player in NFL history to record back-to-back 100-catch seasons and is the first player to achieve the feat with the Patriots. He is on pace for 117 receptions this season, a total that would set a new single-season franchise mark. Welker has totaled a team-high 1,071 receiving yards this season, becoming the first player in team history to have back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving seasons (1,175 yards in 2007). He caught at least six passes in each of the first 11 games of the 2008 season, becoming the first player in NFL history to begin a season with that many consecutive games of six or more receptions. Welker was acquired by the Patriots from the Miami Dolphins on March 5, 2007, in exchange for second- and seventh-round selections in the 2007 NFL Draft. Last season, his 112 receptions set an NFL record for the most receptions by a player in his first season with a team. Since joining the Patriots he has caught 214 passes - more than any other player in the NFL over that span (2007-present).
Gostkowski is the fourth Patriots kicker to be named to the Pro Bowl since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, joining Adam Vinatieri (2002, 2004), Tony Franklin (1986) and John Smith (1980). Gostkowski has been successful on 30-of-33 field goals (90.9 percent) this season, and has hit all 34 of his extra point tries for a total of 124 points. His 30 successful field goals are tied for the most in the NFL and stand two shy of the Patriots' single-season record of 32 (Tony Franklin, 1986) with two games to play. Gostkowski's 90.9 percent accuracy rate leads the AFC and stands as the second highest in franchise history behind Adam Vinatieri's record of 94.9 percent in 2004 (31-for-33). His 124 points lead the AFC and rank second in the NFL, while his 16 touchbacks are a career-high and rank fourth in the AFC. Gostkowski is on pace for 142 points this season - a total that would set a post-merger Patriots record. He is the Patriots' all-time leader in field goal percentage, having connected on 85.5 percent of his kicks (71-for-83) since being selected in the fourth round of the 2006 NFL Draft. Gostkowski was named the AFC's Special Teams Player of the Month for October 2008.