For ten seasons, Adam Vinatieri was a member of the New England Patriots, developing a reputation as not only a good kicker but as greatest clutch kicker in the history of the NFL. After all, it was his leg that deliver the game-winning score in two Super Bowls for the Patriots, and his legacy won't soon be forgotten by New Englanders.
But, while this may be hard to believe, Vinatieri has now been with the Indianapolis Colts for nearly as long, spending the last nine seasons wearing the horseshoe on his helmet. He has continued the clutch reputation and has raised his field goal percentage overall. This season, Vinatieri is arguably the best kicker in the league, as he has hit on all 20 of his field goal attempts (and all 32 of his extra point tries). Only three kickers in the league (including Vinatieri) have yet to miss a field goal, and the next closest in terms of attempts has 14 - six behind the Colts' kicker's total. Only one kicker in the league has made more field goals period than Vinatieri - his successor in New England, Stephen Gostkowski (24).
Gostkowski has also been terrific and in fact he boasts one of the best career field goal percentages of all-time. But Patriots head coach Bill Belichick still had very high praise for Adam Vinatieri on Tuesday. Per Les Schechter of ESPN, Belichick said of Vinatieri that, "right now, I don't think anybody is kicking better than he is. There are a lot of guys kicking good, but I don't think there anybody is kicking any better."
"He's in a great situation as far as not having to deal with kickoffs," Belichick continued. A"s far as putting the ball down the middle through the uprights, the way he is kicking now, I don't see where the end in sight is."
"The ball goes perfectly straight, doesn't move, every kick is right on the money," the Patriots' coach said. "You have to try and block it. Wait for him to miss and you'll be waiting all day. You have to try and see if you can affect the kick. His distance isn't a problem, his accuracy isn't a problem. He gets good lift on the ball, not exceptional, but good. He's kicking in a good environment. He's drilling them. He looks great."
That's high praise from his former coach, but it's true - Adam Vinatieri, the 41-year old kicker, is playing phenomenal football this season. The Colts have to hope that will continue on Sunday night in Indianapolis, as they take on the Patriots in a big matchup. Since joining the Colts in 2006, Vinatieri has hit on 12 of 16 field goals against the Patriots in eight games (including two playoff games) and on all 21 of his extra point attempts, scoring 57 points.
This year, he's hit all 20 of his kicks and has made 26 straight dating back to last season. Hopefully that continues this weekend.