Pats, Giants kickers wandered onto Super Bowl path

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“So I went out to the baseball field, he throws his keys down in front of where I was going to kick and he said, `Kick the ball and pick my keys up,’ just to keep my head down,” Tynes said. “Ironically enough, I went to spring football going into my senior year. I went to spring training, and I haven’t stopped since. It’s pretty weird how it worked out.”

He became very good at it very quickly and went to Troy University as a kicker. He bounced between the Kansas City Chiefs and Ottawa Roughriders before the Giants got him from KC for a seventh-round pick in 2007.

Good deal. Tynes was on the team that upset the Patriots four years ago. His 31-yard field goal in overtime of the NFC championship game at San Francisco got them back to the big game.

All because his friends talked him into trying out in high school.

“I am glad I did, because the only reason I did it was to hang out with my buddies in practice,” he said.

Gostkowski was a three-sport star in Mississippi, going 16-2 with a 1.00 ERA while leading Madison Central High to a state title in 2002. He also kicked a 55-yard field goal that is a school record. Baseball was more his style, though, and he went to Memphis on a partial baseball scholarship.

As a freshman, he tried out for the football team as a walk-on and earned a full scholarship that changed his career. The Patriots drafted him in the fourth round in 2006 to replace Vinatieri, who left as a free agent for Indianapolis. Gostkowski turned into a Pro Bowl kicker, but has yet to line up for a Super Bowl winner like the kicker he replaced.

He doesn’t worry about living up to Vinatieri’s legacy if he gets the chance.

“Kicking hasn’t been the only sport in my life,” he said. “I’ve dealt with difficult situations and I’ve struggled before in every sport I’ve played. I’ve had success in every sport. If you go into a game and think you’re going to screw up, you’re probably not going to be at a professional level. Stuff like that doesn’t cross my mind.”

Vinatieri has seen his kicks replayed all week leading up to the game.

“Whenever they throw a highlight on, I stop what I’m doing and watch it,” Vinatieri said. “It’s kind of a surreal feeling.”

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