INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The media had Adam Vinatieri pinned at his cubicle in the Indianapolis Colts locker room, and the NFL’s oldest active player was about to describe yet another impeccable day at the office.
From a few feet away, Pat McAfee, one-third of Vinatieri’s snap-hold-kick unit, lobbed words of advice.
Give yourself some love. Just tell ‘em ‘I’m the greatest of all time.’
Vinatieri smiled, then resumed his low-key back-and-forth with the media. It was “Bull Durham’s’’ Nuke LaLoosh at his best.
“It’s flying well right now,’’ Vinatieri said. “I definitely have to give a lot of props to the guys up front blocking for me. And Matt (Overton, his holder) and Pat are doing a fantastic job making my job a little easier.
“Sometimes they go where they’re supposed to go.’’
And sometimes it’s difficult to find the right words to accurately describe the type of roll a player gets on, that rare zone he finds.
Vinatieri is 43 and in his 21st season, and he’s never – ever – been better at his craft. In fact, few have performed at this level.
The Colts averted what would have been a crippling 1-4 start with Sunday’s 29-23 nod over the Chicago Bears at Lucas Oil Stadium, and hopefully they offered their ageless wonder more than a few high-fives.
Vinatieri was true on all five of his field-goal attempts – from 54, 53, 26, 41 and 46 yards – to stretch his streak of successful field goals to 38. That’s the third-longest streak in NFL history. He’s chasing Mike Vanderjagt (42) and Gary Anderson (40) in the record books.
As impressive as that is, consider Vinatieri has:
- Converted a team-record nine field goals of at least 50 yards during his personal-best streak;
- Knocked down 72-of-75 field-goal attempts – 96 percent – since the start of the 2014 season.
“I try not to think about any of that,’’ Vinatieri said. “Our PR department come to me and tells me that after the game. I’m just happy I made all the kicks today.
“It was a good day.’’
Thanks again, Nuke.
Others were more effusive.
As Vinatieri trotted onto the field for his 54-yard attempt in the third quarter, cornerback Darius Butler took the time to limber up on the sideline.
“I wasn’t even looking,’’ he said. “I was down there getting stretched ‘cause I expected it to just go through the uprights.
“He did what he always does.’’
Andrew Luck wasn’t pleased the offense tacked up just two touchdowns and was 1-for-2 in red-zone trips, but again was comforted by Vinatieri’s ability to clean up.
“You slip into sort of taking it for granted, and you can’t,’’ Luck said. “He’s the best. A great teammate, a great role model for any young guy.
“He just works his butt off and keeps hitting them.’’
Overton stressed the success of the kicking game starts in practice. Every repetition is taken seriously and every possible scenario considered.
“Every single rep we act like it’s the Super Bowl,’’ he said. “That’s underappreciated. Every time we go out there his mindset is it’s a Super Bowl game-winner.
“I’ve been holding for him for eight years and every single kick he approaches like the game is on the line. That’s the way the greatest of all time operates, I guess.
“I’ve been lucky just to watch him.’’
Vinatieri just kept doing what they pay him to do.
“Everybody has a job,’’ he said. “We preach all the time to do your job . . . do your job.
“It’s my job to try to go out there and put points on the board. I’m happy it’s going there right now.’’