Kickoff rule & Brandon Tate

March, 23, 2011
3/23/11
10:30
AM ET
Earlier this morning, Stephen Gostkowski's kickoffs from the 2010 season were analyzed in terms of how they might be affected by the new rule change of spotting the ball 5 yards up field at the 35.

On Twitter, rtm237 asked, "How many times did the Pats take the kickoff back or from the 5? Where did Brandon Tate take both his kickoff return TDs from?"

Tate's two kickoff returns for a touchdown were fielded at the 3-yard line (vs. Bengals) and the minus-3 yard line (vs. Dolphins).

After looking at Gostkowski's kickoff stats this morning, here is a snapshot of Tate's kickoff returns in that same seven-game snapshot:

Total kickoffs to Tate (not including onside kicks): 28
Kickoffs to Tate in end zone: 11
Touchbacks by Tate: 2

Tate was aggressive in taking nine kickoffs out of the end zone in the seven-game snapshot. Of those nine kickoffs, they broke down this way:

Minus-6
Minus-4
Minus-3
Minus-2
Minus-2
Minus-1
Minus-3
Minus-3
Minus-4

Adding five yards onto each of those kickoffs, how many would Tate still take out of the end zone?

A safe estimate is probably 3 or 4, which starts to paint a picture of how the return game will be affected by the new rules.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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