Injury could put Vinatieri’s record-breaking quest on hold
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Adam Vinatieri’s record-breaking quest could be temporarily on hold.
The seemingly ageless kicker re-injured his right groin during the Indianapolis Colts’ victory over Buffalo on Sunday, underwent an MRI on Monday and coach Frank Reich acknowledged he might miss next weekend’s game at Oakland.
Vinatieri first appeared on the injury report in Week 5 before facing his former team, New England. The 43-year-old looked fine in the game, making a 54-yard field goal and finishing with six points to move within 20 of breaking Morten Andersen’s league scoring record of 2,544 points.
The Colts kicker added three more field goals in Week 6 against the New York Jets and another against the Bills — though he also missed two extra points in a game for the first time in his 23-year career. He needs five points to move past Andersen.
“We just know he felt a little something on the first PAT, so we are just going to see how the week progresses,” Reich said on a conference call. “We’re going to bring in some kickers, just so you guys know, but we are not going to make any decisions until later.”
Vinatieri has been a model of consistency throughout his career.
His legacy as the best clutch kicker in history began with two kicks in the “Snow Bowl”, one to force overtime and one to beat Oakland in overtime. That victory helped lead New England to its second Super Bowl appearance.
Two weeks later, he made the winning kick in the final minute to give the Patriots their first championship since the AFL-NFL merger. He made another last-minute, Super Bowl-winning kick two years later to give the Patriots the second of their five Lombardi Trophies.
The story continued after he signed with Indianapolis before the 2006 season. Vinatieri made five field goals in a divisional-round matchup at Baltimore, a game in which no touchdowns were scored, to help send the Colts on their first title run since moving to Indianapolis.
Vinatieri has four championship rings, is a three-time All-Pro selection and last month broke Andersen’s record for field goals. Andersen finished with 565. Vinatieri has 571.
And Vinatieri has achieved all those feats largely because of his uncanny ability to stay healthy.
He’s missed only 15 games during his career, 10 coming in 2009 when he finished the season on injured reserve.
This injury even caught Reich by surprise.
“I thought he was just like a robot,” Reich said. “He’s a machine. But the good thing is he has that mental toughness, that mindset to do what he has done in his career. You know he has the right mindset to get past this — whatever course it should take.”
Now, though, Reich & Co. must figure out their next move.
Reich doesn’t anticipate Indy (2-5) signing Vinatieri’s potential replacement immediately and instead will rely on trainers to closely monitor Vinatieri’s health, consulting Vinatieri before making a decision.
Keeping him out this week could work to Vinatieri’s advantage, too.
The Colts have a bye following the Raiders game, giving Vinatieri two weeks to heal, then play three straight games in the climate-controlled confines of Lucas Oil Stadium.
Sitting out a week also could help Vinatieri achieve his stated preference of breaking Andersen’s record on his home turf — even if this wasn’t how he planned it.
“Ultimately when you’ve got a guy like Adam, who’s just so unique, we are going to listen to him,” Reich said. “We are going to listen to the trainers and that will be what will inform our decision.”
NOTES: Reich provided no updates on tight end Erik Swoope, who did not return after hurting his knee Sunday, or defensive lineman Jihad Ward, who was carted off the field after appearing to injure his right ankle. ... Reich also could not say whether Pro Bowl tight end Jack Doyle (hip) could return this week. Doyle has missed six straight games.