INDIANAPOLIS – His Stanford eduction has often made for some insightful post-game comments.
It’s common to hear a unique word or phrase from Colts quarterback Andrew Luck following his first 29 starts in the National Football League.
Yet there was no interesting lingo used when Luck was describing just how important his kicker was to getting the 19th win of his young career on Thursday against the Titans.
“To have a security blanket like that and just a guy, it makes a big difference, it really does,” said Luck of Adam Vinatieri-and that is simple truth.
Even as he turns 40 years old, the longtime kicker remains at the top of his game and is enjoying one of his finest seasons in the NFL. Through 12 games this season Vinatieri has connected on 26-of-29 field goal attempts-good enough for an 89.7 conversion rate.
At the moment that’s the third best of his 18-year career that started with ten season in New England and now eight in Indianapolis.
Sunday was his finest performance of the season to date, helping to provide that “Security Blanket” for Colts’ offense that struggled to move into the red zone. Vinatieri connected on all five of his field goal attempts and provided the bulk of the points in the 22-14 defeat of the Tennessee Titans.
“I’ll got out there as many times as they’ll tell me to,” said Vinatieri of the day. “So I was happy to be able to get out there and help with the win.”
It wasn’t like he was just hitting chip shots-the Colts’ offense made him work. Four of Vinatieri’s field goals came from over 40 yards as the kicker converted from 45, 47, 48, and 49 yards, with a 35-yarder mixed in.
“Yeah, those are by no means chip shots,” said Luck of Vinatieri’s effort. “When we’re struggling like that and can’t put a touchdown on the board early, to have that really keeps that momentum going for you. Yeah, touchdowns are obviously better. But points are better than nothing.”
Making all of those kicks tied a personal best for Vinatieri-most of which have Colts’ ties. His last five field goal game gave the Colts’ an AFC Divisional Playoff win over the Ravens in Baltimore in 2007 en route to the Super Bowl XLI championship. Vinatieri kept the Colts out of a Super Bowl three years earlier, when he booted five field goals as a member of the Patriots in the AFC Championship game at Gillette Stadium to help New England to a win.
Vinatieri also hit five field goals in his rookie season in 2006, helping the Patriots to a win over Jacksonville on September 22nd at Foxboro Stadium.
On this record-setting day, Vinatieri handed off the praise to others on his team.
“You can’t say enough good things about our defense today they really kept us in the game,” said Vinatieri. “They shut them down, they got four turnovers. You have to take your hat off to the defense, they played great and it was nice to be able to put some points on the board and keep us going.”
If he keeps going at this pace, Vinatieri may not only be in position to have the best percentage of field goals made in a season but also the greatest quantity. His personal best came as a member of the Patriots in 1998 when he made 39 field goals. In the last two years, Vinatieri has connected for 62 field goals for the Colts and is more than happy to trot out there and get more.
“I think anytime you step on the field it’s a special thing for me,” said Vinatieri. “Sometimes your needed a whole lot less. Sometimes your needed a bunch.”
Either way, Vinatieri is a good of a “Security Blanket” the Colts could have.