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Mood swings; Pats score two TDs in final 61 seconds.

Byline: Jennifer Toland

FOXBORO -- Stephen Gostkowski kicked the winning overtime field goal in the biggest comeback in Patriots history two weeks ago against the Broncos, but in his mind that was nothing compared to what he pulled off Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

In the midst of the most manic minute of the season, Gostkowski perfectly executed an onside kick, sending the ball down the middle of the field the necessary 10 yards to the Cleveland 40, where teammate Kyle Arrington recovered it to set up a wild Patriots win.

Quarterback Tom Brady again worked his fourth-quarter magic, throwing a 1-yard touchdown pass to Danny Amendola with 31 seconds left, and the Patriots beat the Browns, 27-26, in pretty remarkable fashion.

Gostkowski may give a little fist pump after a big field goal, like the one against Denver, but he went into all-out celebration after Arrington came up with the onside kick.

"I've never been that jacked up,'' Gostkowski said. "I was all over the place. I probably looked like an idiot out there.''

Cleveland kicker Billy Cundiff missed a 58-yard field goal attempt as time expired. It was on line, but short.

The Patriots overcame a 19-3 third-quarter deficit and the loss of tight end Rob Gronkowski, who was carted off the field in the third after suffering what is believed to be a season-ending knee injury.

With 61 seconds left, Brady completed a 2-yard TD pass to Julian Edelman and the Patriots were within five points. Browns defensive back Jordan Poyer was called for unnecessary roughness on Edelman after his TD catch and the 15-yard penalty was assessed on the kickoff.

Gostkowski went to work from the 50-yard line.

"I came over to the sideline after we scored,'' Brady said, "and (offensive coordinator) Josh (McDaniels) said, 'We're going for the middle bunt.' So I kind of stood up to get a good look and he kicked a perfect ball. That was awesome.''

The last time the Patriots recovered an onside kick was Jan. 1, 1995, in a wild-card playoff game loss at Cleveland. Bill Belichick coached the Browns at the time. The only other time the Patriots recovered an onside kick and won a game was against the Jets on Sept. 27, 1964. However, they recovered it in the first half and went on to win, so it was hardly as dramatic as what happened Sunday.

"It's one of those rare things,'' Gostkowski said. "I've been practicing onside kicks for so long and I've probably only done four or five in a game, even going back to high school. It's one of those things you focus on what you're doing and give your team a chance. It's a very low percentage play and my job is to get it 10 yards and give the team a chance. That's what I did. The ball bounced our way, so it was pretty exciting.''

Gostkowski kicked the ball, went to get in front of it, slid and got hit by a Browns player. The ball hit off him and bounced to Arrington.

"I just hoped there wasn't a flag,'' Arrington said. "I was just hoping it was a good, legal play and we set up the offense. Steve made a great kick. Fortunately, it hit one of their guys first and I was able to jump on it.''

Gostkowski said the team practices a couple different onside kicks.

"In practice you're like, 'I have to do an onside kick again? We're never going to use them.' '' Gostkowski said. "That's kind of how you feel, but then it's all worth it when you get to use it in a real big situation. When you get the opportunity to do it and you do it, it feels really good. (Kicking off from) the 50 was real big, too.''

After Arrington's recovery, Brady threw a 10-yard completion to Amendola, then went to rookie Josh Boyce in the back corner of the end zone. Cleveland corner Leon McFadden knocked the ball away from Boyce and was called for pass interference, giving the Patriots the ball at the 1-yard line.

"When you get in situations like we were,'' Patriots special teams captain Matt Slater said, "you can't let the situation get too big for you and you can't think on a grand scale. You have to think one play at a time, and I think that's what we did, approaching one situation at a time. We got the first touchdown to Julian, executed the onside kick, then we took it from there.''

Gostkowski also made important field goals from 33 and 50 yards. The 50-yarder extended his streak of fourth-quarter field goals made to 22 and it was the 200th of his career.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Author:Toland, Jennifer
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Geographic Code:1U3OH
Date:Dec 9, 2013
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