FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Stephen Gostkowski sat in his locker, his back to an ever-growing mob of television cameras, microphones and recorders, as he put on his socks and sneakers.

As he turned to face everyone, the crowd surged so that microphones were half an inch from his face.

“Scoot back guys, could you?” he asked. If he was going to talk, he needed a little space.

Gostkowski was interview target No. 1 in the New England Patriots’ locker room Sunday afternoon after the home team suffered a stunning 20-18 loss to the Arizona Cardinals at Gillette Stadium.

After making four field goals, including kicks from 51 yards and 53 yards, Gostkowski missed a 42-yarder wide left with one second remaining that could have won the game for New England.

He didn’t just miss it. The ball never had a chance once it left his foot.

“Well, you know, we had an opportunity to win the game,” he said. “Had a good game up to that point. I felt good going out there. It’s just one of those things that, ah, you get opportunities like that not very often and I’ve got to do a lot better job of coming through for the team.

“We had a chance to win and it came down to me and I didn’t pull through. It stinks and I feel bad for the fans and my teammates. I went out there and felt good, I just didn’t execute.”

Gostkowski, who had made his previous 15 field-goal attempts dating back to last year’s playoffs, said it wasn’t the smoothest hit he’s made on a ball.

“I looked up and saw it was left,” he said. “Sometimes the ball just doesn’t fly your way. It humbles you pretty quick.”

Such is the life of an NFL kicker. One minute you’re being congratulated on making a long kick, the next you’re standing in front of everyone, having to explain your latest failure.

Gostkowski has been in this position before. He’ll be in it again.

“I’m not scared to fail; it stinks when you do,” he said. “But I wouldn’t go out there every day if I was scared to screw up. I’ll feel bad about this for a couple of days. I’m sure I’ll get ripped for this by the fans and stuff. And it’s well deserved.

“My teammates have my back. No one feels worse about missing the kick then I do. You’ve just got to move on, get over it. It’s the good ones that get over bad games that will last a while. And if I let this affect me negatively, then I’m not doing my job.”

His teammates do have his back. The Patriots know they didn’t play well.

In losing their first home opener at Gillette Stadium since it opened 12 years ago, the Patriots squandered numerous opportunities, made some head-scratching play calls and looked nothing like a team many observers expect to win the AFC East.

“There’s no one play that lost the game,” said Tom Brady. “We did a lot of things that allowed us to lose this game.”

The final drive clearly illustrated that point.

With New England trailing 20-18, the defense made a stand, as Brandon Spikes forced a fumble that was recovered by Vince Wilfork at the Cardinals 30 with 1:01 left.

On second down, Danny Woodhead ran for an apparent touchdown, but it was nullified because of a holding penalty on Rob Gronkowski 10 yards downfield.

Brady followed with a 12-yard pass to Wes Welker for a first down at the 18. But Gronkowski was penalized five yards for a false start.

Brady then moved the ball into the center of the field on a sneak (losing a yard) and spiked the ball to stop the clock with six seconds left.

Everything was set up for Gostkowski. This time, though, he couldn’t come through.

Maybe it wasn’t the smartest idea to play for a field goal, considering the Cardinals excel at blocking field goals: 13 since 2008 to lead the NFL.

“We put a lot of pressure on a lot of field-goal teams,” said cornerback Patrick Peterson. “I think he was a little scared of us, honestly. That is why he pushed it left.”

The Patriots don’t buy that.

“Stephen’s a great kicker,” said Woodhead. “I think everyone here in this half-circle knows that. I think everyone in the league knows that. It’s not one play that loses.

“We’re a team in wins and losses.”

And now the Patriots have one of each.

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

mlowe@pressherald.com

Twitter: MikeLowePPH