Adam Vinatieri is one of the greatest kickers of all time. Here are his best with The New England Patriots.
Adam Vinatieri is still a hero in Boston. It’s not very often that a player can leave to a rival team and still be adored.
Boston fans experienced this first hand. From Roger Clemens to Johnny Damon and even Jacoby Ellsbury, Boston sports fans aren’t kind to stars who disappear. That is unless you’re Adam Vinatieri.
Vinatieri, the heroic kicker of the original Patriots dynasty, left for the Indianapolis Colts in 2006. Even now, in 2021, we write about his legendary nature as a Patriots player. From game-winning field goals to 50-yard bombs, Vinatieri’s place in Patriots history will never be questioned. As the 48-year-old heads into retirement, here are Vinatieri’s five best kicks in a Patriot uniform.
5. 1996 Week 4 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
A kick so long ago it’s even difficult to find it on YouTube. Vinatieri’s first game-winner came in Week 4 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. A game which would become a preview to the AFC Championship game later that season, Vinatieri hits the winner from 40 yards out, his fifth in six attempts in the game. Vinatieri takes it as cool as ever and the Patriots improve their record to 2-2 on the season. The molding of the most clutch kicker in NFL history started on a random week in Foxboro.
4. 2005 Week 3 @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Another classic Patriots game nearly forgotten in history, New England came back behind three Vinatieri field goals to win 23-20. The game-winner was from 43-yards out, but the degree of difficulty came from the clock running. As it ticked down to under 10 seconds, Vinatieri set up with no time to lose, lined up and buried the winning kick with one second to spare. This came after Tom Brady needed just four plays to move the Patriots into field goal range, picking apart the Steelers’ helpless defense.
Even without time to set up, Vinatieri can still be as cool as ever in the biggest moments.
3. Super Bowl XXXVIII – New England Patriots vs. Carolina Panthers
Now comes some of the most memorable kicks in Patriots’ history. Vinatieri hits a 41-yard field goal in Super Bowl XXXVIII to beat the Carolina Panthers. This game itself is one of the most underrated Super Bowls of all time. There were 37 points scored in the fourth quarter between the two teams. Two comebacks in the game, one by each team.
Once again, it was Brady and Vinatieri getting it done. Brady went 37 yards in 59 seconds, capped off by a 17-yard pass to Deion Branch that set up the kick. What made this kick so special was how nervous fans were about Vinatieri taking the field. It would’ve been easy for Vinatieri, after missing one field goal attempt and having another blocked earlier in the game, to have some confidence issues late in the game. Instead, in the dome of Houston’s stadium when the team needed it most, Vinatieri nailed it right down the middle. The kick gave the New England Patriots their second Super Bowl in three years, and it also taught us never to doubt Adam Vinatieri again.
2. Super Bowl XXXVI – New England Patriots vs. St. Louis Rams
The kick that started it all. Everyone remembers Brady’s iconic drive to get into field goal range, but Vinatieri still had to make the kick. From 48 yards out with one play remaining, the Patriots beat the Greatest Show On Turf. This was the first of three Super Bowls in four years, and six Super Bowls in 18 years. Vinatieri’s legacy would’ve been complete after this game alone, but he went on to continue to be a dominant force in the special teams game.
1. 2002 AFC Championship Game – Oakland Raiders @ New England Patriots
Still the greatest kick in the history of the NFL. The Patriots are battling the Raiders late in the AFC Championship game down 13-10 when Vinatieri comes out on the field with the clock winding down under 40 seconds. All of a sudden, it seems like the blizzard-like snow conditions are even worse than before and you can’t even see the ball in the air from your television. All you know is the referee said it went through the uprights and the Patriots were going to overtime.
Once again, it was Vinatieri hitting the winner. Their may be no dynasty if it wasn’t for these two kicks. That’s why, no matter what, Adam Vinatieri is a legend of the New England Patriots.
(Photo By: John Iacono/Icon SMI)
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