Can't overlook special teams

October, 22, 2012
10/22/12
1:45
PM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Bill Belichick had to be thrilled with the special teams performance in Sunday’s 29-26 overtime win over the Jets.

If not for Devin McCourty’s fumbled kickoff return late, and a 41-yard kickoff return surrendered to Joe McKnight, the overall effort would have been even more decisive.

Kicker Stephen Gostkowski delivered two of the biggest field goals in his seven-year tenure with the team (43 yards at the end of regulation, 48 yards in overtime), and Zoltan Mesko had six punts for a 44.8 average, 41.2 net, with four inside the 20.

Furthermore, the protection on the punt team was solid, which was anything but a given considering some of the injuries the team is dealing with. So too was the protection on the field-goal unit, which required some last-minute tweaking when offensive lineman Dan Connolly’s illness knocked him out of action.

Devin McCourty had the explosive 104-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the first quarter.

With this as a lead-in, a look at the players who showed up on multiple core units in the game (based on the first units that took the field):

Four units
Bobby Carpenter
Marquice Cole
Nate Ebner
Niko Koutouvides
Trevor Scott

Three units
Michael Hoomanawanui

Two units
Sterling Moore
Matthew Slater
Danny Woodhead

NOTES: Matthew Slater, the special teams captain, is usually on more units but was likely limited because of a foot/leg injury that knocked him out of the end of the loss to the Seahawks. … Linebacker Jeff Tarpinian, who was signed off the practice squad Saturday, was part of just the kickoff return unit. … Kyle Arrington, Michael Hoomanawanui, Tavon Wilson and Julian Edelman were credited with tackles.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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