FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- When New England Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski warms up before games, he most often stops at a long distance of 53 yards. He's explained in the past that he doesn't see the benefit of swinging his right leg through a longer attempt, potentially affecting his mechanics.
But that doesn't mean he isn't up to the task, as Friday night's 30-7 preseason victory over the Carolina Panthers showed.
Gostkowski's 60-yard field goal at the end of the second quarter was one of the notable plays of the night, as it would have marked a franchise record had it come in the regular season. Adam Vinatieri's 57-yard field goal against the Bears in Champaign, Illinois, on Nov. 10, 2002, stands as the longest field goal in Patriots history.
"The thing about trying a long field goal like that is there are no expectations. You go out there and it's really a win-win situation. Nobody expects you to make it, so it really puts your mind at ease," said Gostkowski, whose career high of 54 yards came Oct. 13, 2013.
"We hit a pretty good kick, and we got out there a little late, the play clock was running down, so I didn't really get to aim. I just kind of kicked it, and luckily the wind blew it enough to the left, a nice little draw, and it just fell in there."
Gostkowski's kick came to the closed side of the stadium, which is the end where it's usually a bit easier to convert long field goals. The effort had his teammates buzzing.
"Incredible kick," quarterback Tom Brady said. "That's a long ways away, so it gives everybody a lot of confidence that if you get the ball to the 42-yard line, you've got a chance at three points."
Gostkowski's kick capped off a two-minute offense situation, as the Patriots got the ball at their own 9 with 1:47 to play in the second quarter with three timeouts remaining. Coach Bill Belichick, who often preaches "situational football" and barks out situations in practice, couldn't have drawn it up any better.
"I think it really visually now gives our offense as clear of a picture as they could possibly have of where we need to get to, how much a couple extra yards means in that situation," Belichick said. "Hopefully we can make those kicks when [we] get in the regular season."