Peers marvel as Colts’ Adam Vinatieri extends ‘The Streak’

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The Streak is right there, knocking on the door, poised to take its place in the NFL history books.

The current Indianapolis Colts placekicker is on the verge of supplanting a former Indianapolis Colts placekicker – one understated, the other chatty to a fault – for converting the most consecutive field goals in league history. Adam Vinatieri has knocked down 41 straight. Mike Vanderjagt’s 42, established from 2002-04, is at risk.

So, the baton could be exchanged Sunday when the Colts visit the Tennessee Titans in Nashville. If…

“Quit trying to jinx him,’’ New England’s Stephen Gostkowski cracked to ESPN’s Mike Reiss. “No, it is more than impressive what he is doing.’’

Gostkowski should know.

From 1996-2005, Vinatieri was the Patriots’ clutch kicker. When management determined it was time to make a change during the ’06 offseason, it allowed the team’s all-time scoring leader to sign a free agent contract with the rival Colts and turned that role over to Gostkowski, its fourth-round draft pick.

Gostkowski has replaced his predecessor as New England’s career scoring leader, but still understands the pecking order among NFL placekickers.

“He is the man,’’ he said.

But let’s not only take Gostkowski’s word for it.

Justin Tucker, 26 is in his fifth season with the Baltimore Ravens. He ranks 2nd in NFL history in field-goal accuracy – 145-of-163, 88.96 percent – and has converted 22 consecutive attempts, a distant second to Vinatieri.

“Vinatieri has been one of my sports heroes since I cared about playing football,’ Tucker told the Baltimore Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec. “He’s a guy that I’ve always looked up to, I still look up to.

“I think he’s doing an amazing job. It really is remarkable the run that he’s on. I won’t even say hopefully he can keep it going, because I know he’s gonna. But it’s really cool to see.’’

Not that The Streak needs perspective, but here’s some:

  • Vinatieri’s last miss was a 29-yarder off the right upright in the Colts’ loss to the New York Jets in week 2 of last season. In the subsequent 20 games during which he’s failed to miss, the rest of the NFL’s kickers have misfired on 190 attempts.
  • Vinatieri’s 41-game streak includes nine attempts of at least 50 yards. Vanderjagt had only two 50-plus attempts during his streak.
  • The average of Vinatieri’s 41 consecutive field goals is 41 yards. Vanderjagt’s was 33.

And let’s not forget Vinatieri, at 43, is the NFL’s oldest active player. He’s in his 21st season, his 11th with the Colts.

“You watch a guy like him have as much success as he’s had for not just one season, not just two, but for 20-some odd seasons, the better part of two decades,’’ Tucker said. “You absolutely expect to see that going forward. I wouldn’t say I’m surprised at all to see a guy like him doing as well as he’s been doing.

“But wow, he’s on quite a run.’’

Vinatieri tries his best to downplay The Streak.

“My job is to go out there and try to put points on the board every time I go out there.”

“The guys up front are blocking their tails off and Matt (Overton, the long-snapper) and Pat (McAfee, the holder) are the best in the business. I’ve been pretty good game-in and game-out.”

“The ball’s flying pretty well right now.” 

Yes it is.

But we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the last time Vinatieri took an impressive streak to Nashville. Heading into the final game of the 2014 season against the Titans, he had converted a career-best 34 straight. Vinatieri pushed his streak to 35 with a 23-yarder, but saw it end when he pulled a 46-yard attempt wide left.

It was a temporary speed bump. Since 2014, Vinatieri has converted a league-best 71-of-74 attempts (95.9 percent).

Gostkowski jokingly mentioned not wanting to jinx Vinatieri during the near-record run. It’s akin to talking about a pitcher’s no-hitter in the eighth or ninth inning.

Vinatieri smiled when asked if he believed in jinxes.

“At some point I will miss. Everybody does,’’ he said. “Hopefully it’s weeks away or months away or whatever.’’

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