The Misadventures of a Legendary Placekicker

Russell S. Baxter

The Misadventures of a Legendary Placekicker

By Julie Voigt

Special to Pro Football Guru

As ugly as Week 10 was for just about any team that played, it couldn’t get any worse than the performance of the Indianapolis Colts. For most of their Luck-less season, Frank Reich’s club simply found ways to win. That being said, the last two weeks have been forgettable. Injuries to starters like quarterback Jacoby Brissett and star wide receiver T.Y. Hilton and losing to teams with sub-.500 records at the time. And it goes without saying that part of the reason for the narrow setbacks to the Steelers and Dolphins was the failures of Adam Vinatieri.

Last season, Vinatieri could be relied on. Breaking records was the theme. In fact, you could never associate the words “Dink and Dunk” when talking about the NFL’s all-time leading scorer. And if that was the case, you could find yourself in the unemployment line. But not for the “GOAT.” Immediately after the end of the Colts’ season, Vinatieri agreed to terms on a new contract making him one of the oldest players in the NFL.

Fast forward to 2019. The Colts had a lot to prove, especially after the abrupt retirement of Andrew Luck. And in Week 1 vs. the Chargers, the team lost in overtime, 30-24. I believe that this was the match up where the “What are you doing, Vinny” talks had started. It was a rough start for Vinatieri as he missed two field goals and a PAT. Despite leaving seven points off the board, head coach Frank Reich was not worried about the kicker.

After that performance, the Colts started to prove their winning ways defeating the Titans and the Falcons. During the Tennessee match-up, Vinatieri missed two more extra points. After the game, and a statement from the “GOAT” himself, Reich again stated that he was not worried about the kicker.

However…

Week 9 at Pittsburgh. Mistakes and an injury to Jacoby Brissett in essence cost the Colts the game. With victory still a possibility, Vinatieri missed a potential game-winning field goal late in the fourth quarter in a 26-24 setback. Last Sunday vs. the 1-7 Miami Dolphins was another game that got away. A missed PAT early in the fourth quarter left the team with a precarious two-point lead in an eventual 16-12 loss.

Vinatieri’s struggles seemed to starts last season. Despite breaking records and becoming the NFL’s all-time leading scorer, he had his issues in a game that really mattered. In the AFC Divisional Playoffs vs. Kansas City. Vinatieri missed a 23-yard field goal attempt in the first half and an extra point in the fourth quarter.

If a team relies all season long on a couple of points from a kicker in order to win a game, then the team needs to reevaluate themselves as to why they must rely on a kicker, and not the others. When does the conservative approach stop and the dominance begin? If Indianapolis has a kicker problem, then those issues need to be addressed.

As the Colts prepare to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis, Chris Ballard and company will stick with Vinatieri. The Colts are entering a crucial part of their schedule with remaining games against the Houston Texans and both the Jaguars and Titans again.

Simply put, the Vinatieri situation is not the only thing that needs to be resolved. There are other issues at hand. With as much leadership as the 24-year veteran has brought to the organization, the Colts will allow Vinatieri to go on his terms. It must be his decision.

Adam Vinatieri isn’t losing games for the Indianapolis Colts. The Indianapolis Colts are losing games.

Julie Voigt (@JulieNoted_PFG) is an NFL feature writer for SI Pro Football Guru, the co-founder of @pfgVIBE and the co-host of the @pfgVIBE Cast.

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