Adam Vinatieri has made more field goals than any kicker in NFL history, and a good chunk of those are seared into the memory of New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.
With the Patriots preparing to host the Indianapolis Colts and Vinatieri on Thursday night, Belichick voluntarily took a stroll down memory lane to revisit what Vinatieri meant to the New England franchise.
“Adam is a great player,” Belichick reportedly said Tuesday during a conference call with media. “He was a great player here and has been a great player for the Colts, great person. He works hard. He certainly doesn’t fit the classic profile for a kicker. He is more of a football player. He’s physically and mentally tough. When he was here, he trained and worked out with all the players. There was no special program for him as a kicker or anything like that. He embraced that. He had a great relationship with his teammates because of the way he worked, how competitive and mentally and physically tough he was, and how he was willing to help out in other areas of the team — scout team and things like that. Whatever the team needed he was always great about that. He was a clutch, dependable player in his role. So, you can’t ask for much more than that. He has had a fabulous career. Certainly, in my opinion, the greatest kicker in the game.”
Vinatieri, 45, set the NFL record for field goals in the first half of a 37-34 loss to the Houston Texans on Sunday, nailing a 42-yarder with two seconds to play in the second quarter.
He has 304 field goals with the Colts, after making 263 with the Patriots in the first 10 years of his career. He’s in his 13th season with the Colts and 23rd in the NFL.
Perhaps the most memorable kick in Vinatieri’s career, which includes multiple Super Bowl winners, was in the “Tuck Rule” game in Foxborough, Mass., in January 2002. With a chance to win the game in an environment that resembled a shaken snow globe, Vinatieri beat the Raiders and sent the Patriots to the AFC Championship Game.
The team would go on to beat the heavily favored St. Louis Rams in the Super Bowl — the Patriots’ first in the Belichick era.
“I would say it was by far the greatest kick I have ever seen,” Belichick said. “The conditions were very difficult. There were probably three to four inches of snow on the ground. It was a soft snow that kind of didn’t go away. I mean, there was no way to get around it. The magnitude of the kick was significant. It’s got to be the greatest kick of all time, certainly that I’ve seen.”
—Field Level Media