Adam Vinatieri mobbed after kicking the game-winning FG last night
Photo: Donald Miralle, Getty Images
During the post-game press conference last night, Adam Vinatieri admitted that last year's missed FG in San Diego stuck with him for awhile. Last year, with time expiring and his team having battled back from a 23-0 deficit caused largely by bad special teams and WR play, the Colts had a chance to beat the Chargers with a last second 29 yard FG. Vinatieri hooked it right, and really from that point to now many Colts fans (including several folks here) did not have confidence in Adam Vinatiei, and it seems Adam himself was bothered by the miss.
Fast forward to today, and the man they call "Money" got a measure of redemption.
After San Diego rallied down 10 in the fourth to tie the game with a Nate Kaeding FG from 47 yards out, the Colts (with about 1:30 on the clock and one timeout) drove the ball into SD territory with one thought in mind: Get it in "Money's" range and have him end this on one kick.
Before I get all man-love on Adam Vinatieri, we must once again bow before the awesome clutchness of one Mr. Peyton Manning. It has been a long time since jackass blowhards like Bill Simmons questioned his clutchness, and to be honest I miss it somewhat. Because games like this were great to slap folks like that in the face with. Since 1998, no QB in the NFL has more 4th quarter comeback victories than Peyton Manning. And last night, on 4th and inches at mid-field with just 27 seconds left and one timeout, Peyton dialed up a play-action pass to Marvin Harrison that got Indy in "Money's" range. The play, which went for 14 yards, seem to catch the Chargers off guard. It also defined, in one play, the special brilliance that is Manning to Harrison. Manning on the play:
"I think San Diego was thinking we were going to sneak it. I’m making calls, they’re up there in a whole different front. We have a new center, a lot of controlled chaos up there. I don’t know if the ref wound the clock. I’m up there, ‘Don’t let this be the last play and there’s no time left to kick a field goal."’
If Peyton Manning wins his third MVP this season, it will be in large part because of that play.
Speaking of Marvin, how cool was it to see him filmed on the sideline as Vinatieri made his game-wining kick with 2 seconds left. As the kick was made, Marvin was seen saying "Money" as it soared through the uprights.
Contrast the WR play in this game with the Aaron Moorehead-induced horror show we all witnessed last year. To put it mildly, Indy's WRs ate the SD secondary for dinner. The Chargers had no answer for slot receiver Anthony Gonzalez, who caught 6 balls for 96 yards and a TD. Gonzo has had some of his biggest games thus far against SD. Marvin and Reggie also had several big, key catches on third down to keep drives alive. There was also the receiving clutchness of Dom Rhodes, who caught a 4th and goal TD pass from Peyton to put Indy up by 10.
More than any other play, that 4th and goal summed up what it has been like all year for the Colts and us, their fans.
With OC Jeff Saturday having left the game with a calf injury, rookie Jamey Richard had to take his spot. Inside the 5 yard line, Richard seem to keep screwing up his assignment pre-snap and Peyton had to burn two timeouts to get it right. After three stuffs, the Colts went for it on 4th down, snapping the ball with literally 1 second left on the play clock. With pressure in his face, Peyton threw a bullet to Dom Rhodes. Dom caught it, scored a TD, and then proceeded to let the chatty SD crowd know about it.
So, the next time people take shots at Tony Dungy's supposedly "conservative" coaching, remind them of that call. That was a brass-balls, Glengarry Glen Ross call. They drove a Hundai to work. We drove a Peyton Manning. That's our name.
I'm not going to get into some long, detailed analysis of the defense. They played ok, but the standouts were clearly Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney. I will give a ton of credit to Philip Rivers and the Chargers offense. I used to think Rivers was a crappy QB made to look good because of his defense and Tomlinson. No true. Though Rivers strikes me as a Grade A bunghole, he is one helluva QB, and he played a good game. Colts special teams also played well, controlling Darren Sproles and getting good yardage on returns.
But last night really belonged to Adam "Money" Vinatieri. The team went bonkers on the sideline when he made the kick. Even Peyton went running out on the field, helmet still on, with his arms up in the air screaming. After the game, Adam seemed to have the weight of the world lifted from his shoulders. So, keep your other kickers. Me? I'm happy with #4, the greatest clutch kicker in the history of the NFL, and a sure Hall of Famer. Last night, he continued to cement his legacy.
Before we wrap this up, a big shout out to DaBolts and the Chargers fans at Bolts From The Blue. With Chargers fans now posting within the SB Nation fold, I've gotten a much deeper perspective on the team I did have have before. There was some great cross-blogging all week with them, and they (and their team) deserve respect.
As shake n bake posted, the Colts are now sitting well in the #5 spot in the playoffs. They have beaten New England, Baltimore, Pittsburgh,and now San Diego. This puts them in excellent position should the playoffs go down to tie breakers at the end of the season. The four game stretch is one of the most memorable winning streaks I have ever witnessed as a Colts fan, and it has shown that this team does not back down, does not give up. They fight and claw teams to death, and they have special people who make special plays on special days to win football games. One of those people is Mr. Money and his Hall of Fame clutchness. From Tony Dungy:
"When Adam missed out here last year, I felt that if we had a chance to kick a field goal it didn’t really matter where it was from," coach Tony Dungy said. "I thought he would make it. You just felt good about it. Adam’s a pro. I think he wanted to come out here and have a game-winner. It worked out well for us."