Adam Vinatieri turned 41 years old this past Saturday. But if you watched him play, you'd never know it.
This season, Vinatieri has enjoyed one of the best seasons of his illustrious 18 year career that has included 2 game winning field goals in the final seconds of Super Bowls.
This year, Vinatieri connected on the third most field goals made of any kicker in the league and set a career high with 35 made (on 40 attempts, good for 87.5% of his field goal attempts made). No kicker in the league made more kicks from 40+ yards out (with the next closest being three makes behind him), with Vinatieri connecting on 14 of 17 on kicks between 40-49 yards and going 4 of 6 on kicks 50 yards or longer, with a long on the year of 52.
On Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Vinatieri connected on kicks from 26, 23, and 39 yards out while also converting all 3 of his extra point attempts (finishing a perfect 34 for 34 on the year). As a result, Vinatieri was named the AFC's Special Teams Player of the Week for week 17. It is the second time this season Vinatieri has earned the award (he also earned it for his week 11 performance against the Tennessee Titans) and it is the 15th time in his career that he has earned the honor.
The biggest accomplishment Vinatieri had this past weekend, however, was not the Special Teams Player of the Week but rather a very significant career accomplishment. Vinatieri became just the seventh player in NFL history to score 2,000 points in a career, joining Morten Anderson, Gary Anderson, Jason Hanson, John Carney, Matt Stover, and George Blanda. With 12 points on Sunday, Vinatieri's career total improved to 2,006 points, which ranks as the fifth highest total of all time. In order to get to number one and pass Morten Anderson, however, Vinatieri - 41 years old now - would need 538 more points. That's a very, very tall task. Additionally, for some comparison, the next closest active player is the 38-year old David Akers (currently 11th all-time in points scored), who is 285 points behind Vinatieri, and then after that is the 34-year old Sebastian Janikowski (currently 19th all-time) who is 517 points behind Vinatieri.
Being named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week is a good honor for Vinatieri, and getting to 2,000 career points is an even bigger honor. One day, he should get the highest football honor by earning a gold jacket as he is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But right now, he's not going for any of those things. They're all nice, yeah, but he's got one goal right now: winning his fifth Super Bowl ring, and, according to Vinatieri on Monday, "anything less than the championship, I think, would be a letdown."