Colts’ Adam Vinatieri: Old man keeps on rolling, stretched record to 43 straight
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The reaction to Adam Vinatieri’s record field goal was immediate and, at the very least, R-rated.
As his 33-yard attempt cleared the crossbar and extended his streak to an NFL-record 43 straight – see ya, Mike Vanderjagt – Vinatieri found himself in the embrace of holder Pat McAfee.
“He gave me a big hug and said a couple of key words,’’ Vinatieri said after his record performance helped the Colts overcome the Tennessee Titans 34-26 Sunday in Nissan Stadium. “Basically, ‘Congratulations you old man.’
“We have a good relationship. We have good bantering out there.’’
Vinatieri smiled, aware this wasn’t the venue to offer a risqué blow-by-blow account of McAfee’s post-record kick comments. This wasn’t one of McAfee’s comedy shows.
McAfee smiled, too. He’s never been shy when it comes to expressing his thoughts, and that’s especially true whenever discussing another Vinatieri milestone.
So, the conversation?
Hey, man, this is (expletive) big. This is (expletive) big. You’ve won Super Bowls, you’ve made some of the biggest kicks ever. You’ve done it all. This record is (expletive) gigantic.
“That’s exactly what I said,’’ McAfee confirmed.
On any other Sunday, Vinatieri converting 28- and 33-yard field goals would serve as footnotes. He’s a placekicker. That’s what he does. But on this bright afternoon, two relative chip-shots were Herculean.
The first tied Vanderjagt’s record of 42. The second surpassed it. Each was a clean operation – snap by Matt Overton, hold by McAfee, solid protection by the line.
“It’s really 11 guys that accomplished that goal,’’ insisted Vinatieri. “Just happy they’ve all gone through.’’
Andrew Luck was one of the stars of the game. He passed for 353 yards and touchdowns to T.Y. Hilton, Jack Doyle and Frank Gore.
Afterwards, Luck’s eyes danced when asked about Vinatieri.
“Any time you get an NFL record, that’s cool. It really is cool,’’ he said. “I know we probably take him for granted. We really do.
“I don’t think we quite appreciate what kind of career he’s had and how special a player he is.’’
Robert Mathis gave the Colts separation at the end, scooping up a Marcus Mariota fumble caused by T.Y. McGill’s sack with 1:55 to play and returning it 14 yards for a touchdown and a 34-23 lead.
Afterwards, he was to the point when asked about Vinatieri.
“The greatest of all time. That’s it,’’ Mathis said.
As amazing as Vinatieri’s streak is, it’s even more so when you consider he’s the league’s oldest active player at 43, and in his 21st season.
“You’re talking about 21 years of consistency,’’ McAfee said. “Then at the tail end of his career, if he wants it to be, to have the longest consecutive make record is the epitome of everything that is.
“He’s the GOAT.’’
Translation: Greatest Of All Time.
“It’s a legacy. That’s legendary,’’ McAfee said. “It’s the greatest of all time just getting the greatest record of all time. When you’re a kicker, all you’re looking for is consistency. That’s why the turnover rate is so high among kickers. Guys come and go. They get hot, then they get cold.
“To hit 43 straight in your 20th and 21st years, that’s just impeccable.’’
It apparently has convinced D’Qwell Jackson, the Colts’ 33-year old linebacker, to seek out Vinatieri for counsel.
“I need to figure out what his secret it,’’ he said. “He’s playing 21 years and he’s getting better with age.
“Trust me, we’re going to have a long talk one of these news few weeks.’’
Vinatieri, ever poised, made it clear he appreciates the magnitude of the record. It also must be noted his previous long streak – 35 straight – ended in this stadium when he pulled a 46-yarder wide left in the final game of the 2014 season. It kept him from completing a perfect season; he finished 30-of-31.
“There’s a lot of good kickers out there that have played a lot of games,’’ Vinatieri said. “Obviously Mike Vanderjagt held the record and can’t say enough about him; one of the most accurate kickers of all time.
“Gary Anderson was the other one that was right there. I have huge admiration for those guys and everybody else.’’