INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The sellout crowd rises and reacts to the end product, in this instance one of the record cartwheeling kicks off the right foot of Adam Vinatieri.
In case you’ve been on Mars, he’s on a historic streak that has him kicking his age: 43 consecutive made field goals for the Indianapolis Colts’ 43-year old placekicker.
It appears so seamless, so routine, so metronomic.
And that’s the point.
Matt Overton snaps.
Pat McAfee holds.
“It’s a well-oiled machine,’’ McAfee said Wednesday.
It’s over in a blink of an eye. At worst, the snap-to-kick duration is 1.3 seconds.
“We shoot for under 1.3; 1.3 is the easy answer,’’ McAfee said. “Last week every kick was 1.27, 1.25.’’
A couple of interesting tidbits from Vinatieri’s streak:
- Line ‘em up end-to-end, and his last 43 field goals have traveled nearly 1 mile (5,157 feet).
- Using the 1.3 seconds, Vinatieri has needed less than 1 minute to knock down the 43 field goals – 55.9 seconds – and eclipse Mike Vanderjagt’s record.
- The record streak began with a 54-yard field goal against the Tennessee Titans in Nashville Oct. 4, 2015 and reached historic levels with a 33-yarder in Sunday’s win in Nashville.
The Streak is the latest byproduct of countless hours of Vinatieri working with Overton, his long-snapper since 2012, and McAfee, his holder since ’09.
“Matt’s on the money 99.9999 percent of the time,’’ Vinatieri said. “Pat gets the ball down well.
“The guys up front are a very, very unselfish group. It’s a thankless job. They’re just getting trucked by 600 or 900 pounds of human beings trying to run over them. One of the (blocking) techniques is actually called ‘die slowly.’’’
Vinatieri, McAfee and Overton would be the prominent figures in a group photo of those who contributed to the record field goal. But let’s not forget the unheralded protection: Jack Doyle, Le’Raven Clark, Joe Reitz, Austin Blythe, Denzelle Good, Jon Harrison, Joe Haeg and Erik Swoope.
“They don’t get the glamour,’’ Vinatieri said of his protection, “but it can’t get done without them.’’
A breakdown of the snap-hold-kick operation from those in charge of each phase:
“My job is to snap the same ball every single time to Pat, whether it’s on punt or field goal. On field goals, the timing doesn’t leave a lot of room for error. It’s a 1.3-second operation from snap-to-kick. Timing is critical and we work on that every single day.
“My right hand is on the laces and I’m throwing it through my legs like I would throw a normal overhead pass. It’s 8-yard or 7-and-a-half-yard snap-to-hold distance. We determine that in pregame. Weather comes into play. Maybe it’s cold, it’s windy, it’s rainy. Maybe we get a crappy ball. All of those elements come into play.’’
“The laces are supposed to be out (away from Vinatieri) every time, so (Overton’s) job is to snap the ball in the same location with the laces out. My job is to catch it, put it on the right spot – spin it if I have to get the laces out – and get the lean right. The lean is everything. For a soccer-style kicker, you want the lean away from him because if you lean it towards him, it’s a guaranteed hook.
“It’s 1.3 seconds of a lot of things happening. The faster your operation is, the better your protection. It’s on us to help out the O-line.’’
“I obviously find where the ball’s at; we know we’re 8 yards back. Find a good spot that I like to go from. Pat’s job is to make sure everybody’s there and wait until everybody’s lined up. He’s the quarterback of the situation. He’s got to worry about the play clock, make sure everybody’s there, all of that.
“My job’s easier. It’s two (steps) back, two over. Then I get in my stance ready to go. Let McAfee know I’m ready. We might go on different counts. He’ll look back at me and make sure I’m ready, then he’ll look back (at Overton) and give the cadence.
“I’m kind of periphering out of the corner of my eye when the ball leaves Matt. That’s about the time I start to make my approach. We watch film on the opposing team’s rush and what they like to do, but I can’t concern myself with any of that. All I can concern myself with is get the ball high in the air and get it off in 1.3 seconds.’’
Snap-hold-kick. Do it at a high enough level, and The Streak happens.
But never take it for granted.
Did you happen to watch Sunday night’s 6-6 overtime tie between Seattle and Arizona? With 3 minutes, 27 seconds left in overtime, the Cardinals’ Chandler Catanzaro richocheted a 24-yarder off the left upright. With 7 seconds to play, Seattle’s Steven Hauschka yanked a 28-yarder so far to the left it missed the netting. Hauschka has converted 86.7 percent of his kicks, fourth-best in NFL history.
That was a few hours after Vinatieri extended The Streak.
“It’s a credit to everybody, but most importantly to a kicker to stay that locked in for every single rep,’’ McAfee said. “It so impressive and that’s why he’s the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time).
“He’s able to be consistently great at all times no matter what the situation is, no matter what the score is.’’