INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Adam Vinatieri’s pursuit of becoming the NFL’s all-time scoring leader hit a snag Sunday, and might actually delay the record-setting moment.
The Colts’ veteran placekicker entered the game with the Buffalo Bills needing 10 points to supplant Morten Andersen (2,544), but exited the locker room following the 37-5 victory with a noticeable limp and still 5 points shy of eclipsing Andersen.
A trip to the doctor is forthcoming after Vinatieri apparently aggravated a right groin injury that temporarily landed him on the NFL’s injury report Oct. 2.
“Yeah, we’ll see,’’ he said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen.’’
Vinatieri admitted he’s getting a magnetic resonance image of the injury to determine its severity. It’s conceivable the injury could keep him out of next Sunday’s game at Oakland. The Colts have their bye after that.
No one should be surprised if the Colts bring in possible short-term kickers for a tryout early in the week.
It was obvious something was bothering Vinatieri from the outset Sunday. He missed a pair of PATS and was hardly automatic while converting a 36-yard field goal and two other PATs.
Vinatieri first appeared on the injury report the week of the New England game. Even though the Colts didn’t practice that week – Frank Reich limited the team to walkthroughs because of the short week and mounting injuries – Vinatieri was listed as not participating on Oct. 2 and being limited the following day.
After the game, Reich was asked if the groin injury still was bothering Vinatieri.
“Not that I’m aware of,’’ he said.
Luck: time and place
Chalk it up to a smarter, more aware franchise quarterback.
Twice Sunday, Andrew Luck had an opportunity to put his body in harm’s way. Twice, he deferred.
On an 18-yard end-around run by rookie running back Nyheim Hines, Luck was in position to serve as a lead blocker. He resisted the temptation.
And facing a second-and-goal at the Bills 6-yard line early in the fourth quarter, Luck scrambled to his left and headed to the pylon with a few defenders in pursuit. He veered out of bounds at the 1.
On the next play, Luck hit T.Y. Hilton with a 1-yard touchdown and a 31-5 lead.
“I was really proud of him on the one that he ran out of bounds,’’ Reich said with a smile.
At some point in the second half of the mounting blowout, he had approached his competitive quarterback.
“We were at that point of the game and I just told him, ‘Listen, if you happen to get into scramble mode, take care of yourself. Do not. Do not. Be smart,’’’ Reich said. “I mean the game wasn’t on the line at that point, so we had that conversation in the sideline.
“And thankfully he listened to me.’’
Luck admitted he wanted to score on the play, but reconsidered as the Bills were converging.
“I saw them closing down and decided it wasn’t worth it,’’ he said.
Not in the fourth quarter of a blowout.
“It’s weird, but I’m happy I chose in those two instances to do what I did,’’ Luck said. “It’s more important to be on the field as a quarterback. That’s the truth.
“Certainly situationally you will take hits and I’d like to think if it was the fourth quarter in a really tight game that I would have put my shoulder down to get in the end zone, taken a hit.’’
It boils down to “time and place and understanding context and understanding situation,’’ Luck said.
That’s why Reich applauded Luck’s decision. In the past, Luck has exposed himself to unnecessary punishment while trying to squeeze every yard out of a play.
“It’s hard, especially for a guy like Andrew, right?’’ Reich said. “In years past, he would put his head down and I don’t know if he would have got in or not, but he certainly would have tried.
“Maturation, that’s what we like to see.’’
Luck: stats piling up
Despite attempting a season-low 23 passes, Luck made the most of the light work. He passed for 156 yards and four touchdowns.
His season totals: 203-of-311, 1,948 yards, 20 touchdowns, eight interceptions, a 93.3 passer rating.
Luck has thrown 15 TDs in the last four games and on pace 46.
Defense takes care of business
The Bills were going with a quarterback they signed less than two weeks ago (35-year-old Derek Anderson) and lost starting running back LeSean McCoy on the second play of the game when he sustained a concussion.
No one should have been surprised when the Colts took full advantage. Their defense limited the Bills to 303 total yards and generated a season-high five takeaways. Mike Mitchell, Kenny Moore II and Corey Moore had interceptions. Quincy Wilson and Darius Leonard recovered fumbles. Kemoko Turay and Jabaal Sheard had sacks, and Turay’s resulted in an Anderson fumble and recovery and 38-yard return to the Bills 2-yard line by Wilson.
Leonard entered the game with an NFL-high 63 tackles despite missing one game, and added 17 more against the Bills.
“I don’t think people see the work that these guys put in,’’ said Mitchell, who was signed Oct. 9 and started the past two games. “This has been one of the hardest working groups I’ve been around.
“We’re young, but being young isn’t an excuse. These guys are now seven games in and you can see everyone starting to mature.’’
The Colts didn’t allow a touchdown for the second time this season (Washington, 21-9). The last time that happened: 2014.
Tight end Erik Swoope was forced from the game in the first half with a knee injury after catching a 17-yard touchdown pass from Luck. Defensive lineman Jihad Ward did not return after sustaining an ankle injury and being taken to the locker room on a cart.
This and that
The Colts’ 32-point win was their largest since a 37-3 win at Jacksonville Sept. 29, 2013. . . . The win was the Colts’ 300th in their Indy era, including the playoffs. . . . Luck had at least one TD pass in a 30th straight game, extending the NFL’s longest active streak. It’s the second-longest streak in team history (John Unitas, 47).
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51