With the NFL playoffs starting this weekend, Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri has been in this situation many times before. With Vinatieri’s twelfth-visit of the postseason taking place this Sunday against Baltimore, it’s safe to say that the four-time Super Bowl champion has made the most of his playoff trips.
“I think you just got out there and take one kick at a time, one day at a time, and make the most of every opportunity that you get” said Vinatieri. “In playoff games you always have a lot of good teams playing obviously. That means games are usually played a little bit tighter, and individual plays may mean a little bit more. Every opportunity that you get, you have to make the best of it.”
In his 23 career playoff games Vinatieri owns the record for both most field goals made (42) and attempted (51) during the postseason. His most memorable kicks are well-documented in NFL history, including the 48-yarder to defeat the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI and the 41-yarder to drop the Panthers in Super Bowl XXXVIII. Yet on a Colts roster that has 28 teammates that have never stepped onto the gridiron during the second-season in January, Vinatieri has the most simple of advice to his fellow teammates.
“A game is a game,” said Vinatieri, who has made his last seven field goals dating back to week 11 in Buffalo.
“Obviously the implications of these games have become elevated with single-elimination now. At the end of the day though it is us versus them, and the team that is going to play better is the team that is going to win. You never know what play it is going to be, and maybe it is two or three plays that will be pivotal in the outcome of that game. You just have to go out there and prepare the best you can so you can play fast and make every play count.”
Vinatieri, who finished the regular season kicking 26-33 (78.8%) from the field, has never missed a field goal against the Baltimore Ravens during his career. Vinatieri is a perfect 10-10 against the Ravens, though the idea of which opponent Vinatieri is kicking against made him laugh. What never seemed to be a humorous situation to the kicker though was the idea that the Colts wouldn’t be good enough to be in this situation to play in the postseason, even after a two-win season in 2011.
“I think a lot of people outside this building are surprised where we are at right now,” said Vinatieri. “I don’t think anybody in this room had any anticipations other than where we are at right now. We had some ups and downs, and there has been some crazy things that have happened this year like Chuck battling through his cancer and (Bruce Arians) stepping in, but it’s been an interesting year. It’s been rewarding for us all, but the book is not done being written yet.”
Much of the Colts success will not only rely on the foot of Vinatieri but also on the arm of rookie quarterback Andrew Luck, who will be taking his first postseason snaps against the Ravens on Sunday. Vinatieri has seen some pretty good quarterbacks, ranging from Drew Bledsoe to Tom Brady to Peyton Manning play in the playoffs, and he seems pretty confident that Luck has what it takes to succeed come this weekend.
“Obviously Baltimore has a really good defense and they are going to give us a lot of looks,” said Vinatieri.
“They have a lot of good players that can cause a little bit of issues, but I think he is going to go out there well and play well. He has a short memory like the rest of us, and if a play goes wrong, he just bounces back and keeps going. Whenever has has the ball, you know you have a chance to win the game. So it is a lot of fun to watch him, it is fun being his teammate and watching him do his magic to win games, and I expect him to do a lot of that again on Sunday.”