On Wednesday, legendary NFL kicker Adam Vinatieri announced he was retiring. The NFL's all-time leading scorer spent 24 years in football with the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts, and was a four-time Super Bowl champion. A model of consistency, Vinatieri was also a player who stepped up in the biggest of moments, as the Patriots dynasty has more than one reason to be thankful for his leg.
A spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame has been reserved for Vinatieri for quite some time now, as the 48-year-old has made some of the biggest kicks in NFL history. He also owns several NFL records, such as most consecutive field goals made. According to Elias Sports Bureau, Vinatieri also has made more game-tying or go-ahead field goals in the last two minutes or overtime than any other kicker in NFL history in both the regular season and postseason, via ESPN's Adam Schefter. Pretty good for the South Dakota kicker who began his professional career with the Amsterdam Admirals. Below, we will break down what we consider to be the top five moments in the illustrious career of Vinatieri.
5. 51-yard game-winner against Denver in 2019
Vinatieri struggled a bit during his final season with the Colts in 2019, as any 46-year-old professional athlete probably would, but he still held onto that clutch gene. In Week 8, the Colts were locked in a close battle with the Denver Broncos. Vinatieri had struggled with accuracy in the early stages of the season, as he missed three extra-point attempts in the first two weeks. Vinatieri was reportedly mulling retirement and there were questions if the Colts should go out and find another kicker. It really seemed like a "mutual split" was coming soon. He missed another extra point in this matchup against the Broncos, and because of it, Indy found itself with 12 points as opposed to Denver's 13 with time winding down in the fourth quarter. Vinatieri made up for his earlier mistake, however, by knocking through a 51-yard game-winner with just 22 seconds remaining.
4. Vinatieri sets the record for most field goals made
Back in Week 4 of the 2018 season, Vinatieri converted on a 42-yard field goal and a 44-yard field goal in an overtime loss to the Houston Texans. Those two kicks upped Vinatieri's made field goals tally to 566, which moved him past Hall of Famer Morten Andersen as the NFL's all-time leader in field goals. Later that year, he would also become the NFL's all-time scoring leader. Who knows if either of those records will ever be broken again.
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3. Vinatieri wins Super Bowl XXXVIII
Vinatieri has kicked multiple Super Bowl-winning kicks, but this one was certainly special. The Patriots were coming off of a then franchise-best 14-2 regular season, but ran into a very tough Carolina Panthers team led by John Fox in Super Bowl XXXVIII. Greg Gumbel said during the broadcast that the only misses Vinatieri had in his career in an indoor setting up to that point came at Reliant Stadium. Still, he stepped up to the plate in Houston and converted on a 41-yard game-winning field goal that won the Patriots their second Super Bowl, 32-29. They would win the Super Bowl the next year as well, and a few more after that.
2. The Blizzard Boots
Back in 2002, the Patriots were hosting the Oakland Raiders in a very snowy divisional playoff game. With about 35 seconds left, New England called on Vinatieri to potentially send the game to overtime with a 45-yard field goal. Sure enough -- even in the harsh conditions -- Vinatieri came through. Not only that, but he also won the game with a 23-yard field goal in overtime! A snow kicking legend.
"I would say it was by far the greatest kick I have ever seen," Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said in October 2018. "The conditions were very difficult. There were probably three to four inches of snow on the ground. It was a soft snow that kind of didn't go away. I mean, there was no way to get around it. The magnitude of the kick was significant. It's got to be the greatest kick of all time."
Belichick has a point in saying this could be the best kick(s) of all time, but to us, what Vinatieri would do the following month deserved the No. 1 spot on our list.
1. Vinatieri wins Patriots their first Super Bowl
The Patriots entered Super Bowl XXXVI as 14-point underdogs to the St. Louis Rams. Thankfully, Vinatieri still had some ice in his veins from the Arctic conditions he played in during the conference championship game. He converted on a 48-yard field goal as time expired to give the Patriots their first Super Bowl victory after 42 years. It is considered to be the best moment in Patriots history, according to their website.
Having the franchise's first Super Bowl victory come off your foot is impressive, but what made this so notable is that it really began the Patriots dynasty. It would be the first of six Super Bowls New England would go on to win, and the beginning of Hall of Fame careers for many Patriots players -- Vinatieri included.