oJan 20, 2013; Foxboro, MA, USA; New England Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski (3) attempts a field goal out of the hold of punter Zoltan Mesko (14) against the Baltimore Ravens in the first quarter of the AFC championship game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

New England Patriots 2012 Grades: Special Teams


(This is the final entry in the ‘Patriots 2012 Grades’ series).

Zoltan Mesko:

Mesko had another solid 2012 season, and while it wasn’t as good as his 2011 campaign  he still performed up to par. Mesko doesn’t get a lot of opportunities to punt with Tom Brady on his sideline, but when he is called up to do it, he delivers. Mesko’s specialty is when he finds himself on the 50 yard line and in. He is great at dropping in punts inside the 20, and he rarely puts them in the end zone. He punted 60 times last season, and only six of those went in for a touchback. His gross punting average was 43.1 and his net punting average was 37.9.

Grade: B+

Stephen Gostkowski:

At the beginning of the season Gostkowski was really struggling, and there were plenty of fans that wanted Bill to give him the boot (no pun intended). But the Pats stuck with him, and he finished the season on a very good note. He made 29 of 35 field goals during the regular season, and he was four of four in the postseason. Gostkowski remains one of the elite kickers in the league in my opinion, and his 2012 season is further proof of that.

Grade: B

Matthew Slater:

You don’t see many football players like Matthew Slater anymore. Slater is on the Patriots roster for virtually one purpose, and that is to cover kickoffs and punts for them. Slater is probably the fastest guy on the Patriots roster, and he really flies down the field on special teams. He was selected to the pro bowl for his efforts last year, and rightfully so. Slater finished the season with 19 tackles.

Grade: A

Danny Aiken:

The Patriots long-snapper had a fine year. The reason I say that is because there were no bad snaps that we can remember, and that is the only thing you can really grade a long-snapper on.

Grade: A

Tags: New England Patriots NFL Offseason

  • Hal Bent

    One blocked punt that I remember, and I believe Ebner missed it or whiffed on the assignment and was pulled off the unit for a while. Slater is great at making sure tackles without having to stop and then tackle the returner, which is part of his value. He is rarely blocked out of the play and is either making the tackle or forcing the return to someone else, it seems.
    Great job as always, Cyrus.

    • Cyrus Geller

      Thanks Hal and you are correct on the blocked punt call. Week 2 versus Arizona. Overall I think the Pats have one of the best special teams units in the league (aside from kick returns, which of course I forgot to add in the piece LOL).