For the 14th time in a career that will surely end in Canton at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri was named the AFC's Special Teams Player of the Week after his performance in the Colts' Thursday night win over the Tennessee Titans. Vinatieri connected on all three field goal attempts, from 48, 30, and 50 yards out, respectively. He was also a perfect 3 for 3 on PATs, bringing his points scored total to 12 for the game.
With the 50-yard field goal in the third quarter, he also tied a career high with 4 makes from 50+ yards in a single season, tying his total from 2012. Overall, he is 20 of 23 on field goal attempts (87.0%), which would be the fourth highest percentage for a single season in his 18-year career if it holds up. He is on pace to make 32 field goals in 2013, which would be a single season high for him in his career. In addition, he has connected on all 22 of his PAT tries and has hit 4 of 6 attempts from 50+ yards out.
Vinatieiri also brought his career points scored total with the Colts up to 791, which moved him into second place in franchise history. With just nine more points, he will become the second player in league history to score 800+ points with two different teams (Morten Anderson did it with both the Saints and the Falcons).
He spent the first 10 years of his career with the New England Patriots, playing in four Super Bowls and winning three. On two of those Super Bowl wins, Vinatieri connected on the game-winning kick at the end of the game and added a game winning field goal at the end of the game in the playoffs in 2001 in a blizzard. Those game-winning kicks earned him the reputation as the most clutch kicker to ever play the game. He signed with the Colts in 2006, replacing Mike Vanderjagt, who had just missed a potential game-tying kick in the playoffs the year before. The Colts won the Super Bowl that year, and in one game along the way Vinatieri accounted for all 15 of the Colts points for the game. Since Andrew Luck came to Indianapolis, Adam Vinatieri has hit three kicks that won the game for the Colts in the fourth quarter (kicks that put the Colts ahead for good at some point in the final quarter) and should have had a fourth, but the Colts blew the lead with less than a minute left.
Vinatieri was phenomenal in 2010, but took a step back the past two years - especially in 2012. He still hit on 78.8% of his kicks and was 4 of 7 from 50+ yards out, but it looked like he was beginning to show his age. For at least one more year, though, I was totally happy to have Vinatieri as this team's kicker, although I thought it would be his last, as he is a free agent after this season. I wondered whether he might retire. Either way, I didn't think he would be back.
I'm still not sure if he'll be back, but I don't think the Colts will find a better kicker than Vinatieri to replace him, even at 40 years old. He has been lights out this year and has been absolutely tremendous. I couldn't be more impressed with him this season and place it right among the best seasons of his career. His streak of 146 consecutive games scoring a point continues, and with just 18 more points this season he will reach the 100 point mark for the 16th season in his career, tying Jason Elam for the most all-time.
Vinatieri is the second Colt to win a Player of the Week award this year, joining quarterback Andrew Luck, who won the AFC Offensive Player of the Week award for week 7 after the Colts' great win over the Broncos. He is the first Colt to win the award for special teams since T.Y. Hilton earned it in week 12 of the 2012 season.
A big congrats is due to Adam Vinatieri for the recognition, and on a larger scale for his tremendous play all season long.