INDIANAPOLIS — Adam Vinatieri’s 200th career game with the Indianapolis Colts was quite the adventure Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium, but in the end, the home crowd was sent home happy — and the greatest kicker of all-time was sent home with yet another game ball to add to his collection.
Vinatieri shrugged off two tough missed kicks earlier in the contest to nail a game-winning 51-yard field goal attempt with 26 seconds left in the fourth quarter, as the Colts escaped with a 15-13 come-from-behind victory over the Denver Broncos to improve to 5-2 on the season.
“I’m happy that I got a chance at some redemption, for sure,” Vinatieri told reporters after the game.
Vinatieri’s day got off to a rocky start on Sunday, as his 45-yard field goal attempt on the Colts’ opening drive sailed wide right. Prior to that kick, Vinatieri had converted seven of his previous eight field goal attempts going back to Week 3, with his only miss coming from 57 yards out Week 4 against the Oakland Raiders.
But with six seconds left in the second quarter, Vinatieri was sent out to attempt another field goal, this time from 55 yards out. Despite kicking into a slight breeze with the Lucas Oil Stadium roof open on a chilly fall afternoon, Vinatieri had just enough juice to get the ball over the crossbar to cut the Broncos’ lead to 6-3 heading into halftime.
The 55-yard field goal is tied for the second-longest made kick in the 24-year NFL veteran’s legendary career.
With the Colts’ defense continuing to keep the Broncos’ offense out of the end zone, Vinatieri connected on another 45-yard field goal at the 6:05 mark of the third quarter to cut Denver’s lead to 13-6.
But later in the quarter, when the Colts finally found the end zone with a 10-yard touchdown run by running back Marlon Mack, Vinatieri’s extra-point attempt, which would’ve tied the game at 13, missed wide left.
But Colts head coach Frank Reich, whose unwavering support helped Vinatieri dig out of some struggles to begin the season, had a message for his kicker as he walked off the field after that miss.
“I said, ‘Hey, don’t worry about it. Shake that one off, because you’re gonna win this game for us,” Reich recalled after the game.
The second-year Colts head coach proved prophetic on this day.
With the Broncos clinging to that one-point lead, 13-12, the Colts’ offense would go 56 yards in six plays, highlighted by a sensational escape-act play from quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who was able to escape the grasp of All-Pro pass rusher Von Miller in the end zone to roll out and find wide receiver T.Y. Hilton along the sideline for a huge 35-yard gain.
Four plays and one defensive penalty later, after getting to the Denver 33-yard line, Reich’s confidence in Vinatieri paid off, as he drilled his 51-yard field goal attempt to give the Colts an improbable 15-13 victory.
“I knew that was money for Adam,” Reich said. “I have all the confidence in the world that he was going to make that. … We had a shot to win it, and that’s all we wanted there at the end.”
The kick for Vinatieri was his 29th-career game-winning kick in the final minute of the fourth quarter of overtime, and his first since Nov. 25, 2018, against the Miami Dolphins. He also converted two field goals of 50-plus yards in the same game for the fourth time in his career.
Vinatieri also became just the fourth player in Colts franchise history to reach the 200-game plateau, joining Reggie Wayne (211 games), Peyton Manning (208) and Johnny Unitas (206).
“I mean, that’s pretty big milestone, and I guess there’s not a better way to cap that off,” Vinatieri said. “It’s been a huge honor to play for this many years for such a great organization, and these guys in this locker room never cease to amaze me on their fight and determination, and just guys that are going out there and doing their thing. So it was a hard-fought game today, but obviously we did enough to get it done.”