Colts K Viantieri looking to rebound after off day Print
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Wednesday, 19 September 2007 11:23
NFL Headline News

 INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -Adam Vinatieri sure didn't look like the NFL's best clutch kicker last weekend. He looked human.
The man who won two Super Bowls, the man who made two kicks in the snow to win a playoff game, the man who accounted for all 15 Colts points in January at Baltimore, inexplicably struggled.
With a blocked extra point, a hooked short field goal and another short field goal that hit the crossbar and bounced over after being deflected by a Titans defender, Vinatieri sure didn't have the results he is known for.
Then again, everyone has forgettable days, even those that seem immune from them.
``You guys are still talking about that?'' he said Wednesday. ``It was an interesting one, but we walked out with a win and that's really all that matters. You just try to get back to work and put it behind you.''
Explaining what went wrong in Sunday's 22-20 victory could have proven more difficult for Vinatieri had the Colts lost.
The 12-year veteran who owns four Super Bowl rings certainly couldn't blame the weather - a warm, sunny day - after prospering all those years in the sometimes harsh environments of South Dakota and New England.
The soft-spoken, non-controversial Vinatieri also refused to blame the field conditions even though specks of sand appeared to be flying on most of his kicks. Of course, Tennessee's Rob Bironas had no complaints - he hit a 60-yard game-winner to beat the Colts on the same field in December.
So after reviewing the film, Vinatieri stood up and pointed the finger straight at himself.
``I might have hit the ball a little low on a couple of those,'' he said.
With the Colts off to their third straight 2-0 start, few in Indianapolis are worried. Vinatieri has never missed a kick at the RCA Dome and still tends to save his best kicks for the most important situations, like championship games.
He has now attempted more field goals, made more field goals and scored more points with his foot than any kicker in Super Bowl history.
And his memorable moments have created an indelible image of consistency.
His 48-yard field goal beat St. Louis for New England's first Super Bowl victory, and his 41-yarder two years later beat Carolina for the Patriots' second title. The next year, Vinatieri hit a 22-yarder to help seal the fate of Philadelphia as New England won its third championship.
There were the kicks in the famed ``Tuck Rule'' game against Oakland when Vinatieri twice lined up in the snowstorm - without the aid of a plow clearing a spot - and hit one field goal to force overtime and another to win the game.
Last season, Vinatieri was back at it in the playoffs, with a new team. His five field goals helped the Colts win at Baltimore despite not scoring a touchdown, and he made three more kicks in rainy Miami to help the Colts defeat Chicago in the Super Bowl.
Besides, Colts fans still haven't forgiven Mike Vanderjagt for shanking a potentially tying field goal in the 2005 playoffs against Pittsburgh. The Colts, who won their first 13 games that year, wound up losing that game to the eventual Super Bowl champs.
But Vinatieri understands how fickle this kicking business can be.
Last week, he acknowledged there's no such thing as a chip shot when it comes to kicking, then proved it at Tennessee.
``Every once in a while you do have a bad day,'' he said. ``When you get one blocked and another partially blocked, you've got to see if you're hitting them low or what.''
Coach Tony Dungy said Monday it also appeared Vinatieri's foot might have hit the ground before kicking the ball. Even with the league's best big-game kicker, though, the Colts don't want to rely on Vinatieri's usually flawless foot.
The point is this: The Colts, like every other NFL team, prefer touchdowns to field goals.
``We've always taken a lot of pride in the red zone because we don't like to kick field goals,'' Dungy said. ``It's something we always emphasize.''
But if he's needed at Houston this week or against Denver next week or somewhere down the line, maybe even against his former team in November, Vinatieri doesn't expect to have any more performances like last week.
Of course, that's not how you become Mr. Clutch.
``No, you don't think about it,'' Vinatieri said. ``We played well enough and made enough plays to win last week, but we have to continue to get better.''
 

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