AFC Championship Game Preview NE Patriots vs. Indy Colts

AFC Championship Game Preview NE Patriots vs. Indy Colts

This is Adam Vinatieri's favorite time of year.

Each playoff week, the two-time Super Bowl hero seems to reinforce his reputation as the NFL's best clutch kicker. Give Vinatieri an opportunity to win a postseason game, and he's money.

Now, in the AFC title game, Indianapolis' biggest offseason addition might get a chance to boot his former team, New England, right out of the playoffs.

Vinatieri has continually insisted he's not motivated by the rivalry between Indianapolis and New England, or even the chance to show his former team it made a mistake. He's content with making more meaningful kicks than anyone in NFL history.

``You try not to let all the implications and all the extra hype get to you,'' Vinatieri said after he kicked five field goals in Indianapolis' 15-6 victory over Baltimore Saturday. ``You try to go out there and focus in on what you're doing and hope for the best.''

During the past decade, nobody's been better than Vinatieri when it matters most, and his resume is filled with testimonials backing up that image.

Last weekend he made all five field goal attempts to break the career record for most postseason field goals (34). He's made two last-second kicks in Super Bowls for the Patriots, a 42-yarder to force overtime against Oakland in a blizzard, and a 35-yarder to eventually win that playoff game.

On Sunday, Vinatieri's shoe will be on the other sideline.

Jilted Boston fans have endured this kind of bitter breakup before, usually with maddening results.

When Babe Ruth left the Red Sox for the hated New York Yankees, it haunted them for decades. It was a similar story last year when Johnny Damon joined the Yankees, who made the playoffs while the Red Sox went home.

They're hoping Vinatieri does not add another chapter to that painful legacy Sunday.

But Vinatieri has been comfortable kicking indoors for the Colts (14-4), and his soft-spoken, cautious demeanor seems perfectly suited to pressure situations - a stark contrast to Indy's former kicker, the brash Mike Vanderjagt.

Still, New England coach Bill Belichick thought he could find a better bargain and a younger foot to provide longer kickoffs in the offseason. So when the Patriots didn't re-sign free agent Vinatieri quickly, he found a new home with one of New England's main rivals.

The split has featured some tension. Patriots fans gave Vinatieri a chilly reception when he returned to Foxborough, Mass., in November, and the reaction from the coach hasn't been much warmer.

Belichick refused to use Vinatieri's name when asked about him, and Vinatieri initially referred to the Patriots as ``his former team'' when he arrived at Colts training camp. He later changed that philosophy.

Indianapolis couldn't be happier with the results.

A year ago, the Colts were knocked out of the playoffs when Vanderjagt, the NFL's most accurate kicker, shanked a 46-yard field goal that would have forced overtime against Pittsburgh. Instead, they went home with a 21-18 loss.

Vinatieri changed the equation this year by hitting all eight field goals in the playoffs, including a crucial 51-yarder that clipped the top of the crossbar and bounced across in Sunday's kickfest at Baltimore.

``Once you get to this level, every game seems like it's one or two plays that make the difference,'' he said. ``If you can weather the storm, you've got a good chance of beating them.''

Vinatieri's replacement in New England (14-4), Stephen Gostkowski, also has proven capable.

A fourth-round pick in April's draft, Gostkowski made 20 of 26 field goals during the regular season and, like Vinatieri, has been even better in the playoffs. He's 6-of-6 in two postseason games and made a a 31-yarder with 1:10 left Sunday to give the Patriots a 24-21 victory at San Diego.

Strangely, Vinatieri's worst game of the season came against the Patriots. He was 2-for-4 in a 27-20 victory and has missed only one other time all season - none at home.

And if the Colts need Vinatieri to make a winner Sunday, coach Tony Dungy remains confident the 34-year-old can produce one more big kick.

``When he walks out there, you always feel like he's not going to miss,'' Dungy said. ``That was our whole goal when he was at New England, was you can't let him get close enough in a situation where a field goal is going to do it. I don't remember him missing in four or five years against me.''

The Colts hope he doesn't start now.

Michael Cash
77% Avoid Me
useravatar
Offline
6560 Posts
User info in posts
Administrator has disabled public posting
Michael Cash
77% Avoid Me
useravatar
Offline
6560 Posts
User info in posts
Administrator has disabled public posting

Re: AFC Championship Game Preview NE Patriots vs. Indy Colts

I live in the Indianapolis area and people are going nuts around here with the first NFL playoffs game to ever be hosted in Indy.

n8dog
useravatar
Offline
3 Posts
Administrator has disabled public posting

Board Info

Board Stats:
 
Total Topics:
45944
Total Polls:
2
Total Posts:
290945
Average Posts Per Hour:
2.8
User Info:
 
Total Users:
3772
Newest User:
John
Members Online:
0
Guests Online:
2567

Online: 
There are no members online

Forum Legend:

 Topic
 New
 Locked
 Sticky
 Active
 New/Locked
 Sticky/Locked

Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Contact Us | Advertising | 888-99-SPREAD

THIS IS NOT A GAMBLING SITE – If you think you have a gambling problem click here.

Disclaimer: This site is for informational and entertainment purposes only. Individual users are responsible for the laws regarding accessing gambling information from their jurisdictions. Many countries around the world prohibit gambling, please check the laws in your location. Any use of this information that may violate any federal, state, local or international law is strictly prohibited.

Copyright: The information contained on TheSpread.com website is protected by international copyright and may not be reproduced, or redistributed in any way without expressed written consent.

About: TheSpread.com is the largest sports betting news site in the United States. We provide point spread news, odds, statistics and information to over 199 countries around the world each year. Our coverage includes all North American College and Professional Sports as well as entertainment, political and proposition wagering news.

©1999-2013 TheSpread.com