—Manning and Dungy would not have won gotten their Super Bowl title, either, without Vinatieri, who made five field goals in a chilly 15-6 divisional-round win at Baltimore in 2007.
— Vinatieri is the only kicker to play in five Super Bowls and be part of six conference championships.
— His 16 100-point seasons are tied with Jason Elam for the most in league history.
— He and Morten Andersen are the only NFL players to top 800 points with two different teams.
Sometimes the memories fade from public view, like the 4-yard TD pass Vinatieri threw to Troy Brown against St. Louis in 2004 or the toughness he displayed at training camp in 1996 that helped Parcells make the decision to keep him as a rookie. And other times, Vinatieri wishes the images would go away — like the Super Bowl kickoff returns from Desmond Howard in 1997 and Devin Hester a decade later.
They never do.
“That one I remember like it was yesterday,” Vinatieri said when asked about his diving attempt to take down Howard, an image captured in a photo that has been displayed in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
But the reason Vinatieri has survived this long is that he never allowed the good times or bad linger long enough to make a difference.
Even now, after spending most of this season as the league’s oldest player, he’s still going strong. Last weekend, Vinatieri set a career high for field goals in a season (32), his percentage of 86.5 is the fifth highest of his career and he’s tuning up for yet another playoff appearance with the Colts (10-5).
“The only thing that’s changed about Vinny is the grayness in his beard,” punter Pat McAfee said Friday. “He’s the same guy he’s always been.”
A tireless worker.
Sure, the South Dakota State grad and NFL Europe alum who once wondered if he’d ever get a chance to prove himself in the NFL, takes time off now and then to hunt, but the reason he’s still kicking around this league is that football is his No. 1 job.