INDIANAPOLIS — “The Adam Vinatieri Award” has returned to its rightful owner.
The National Football League today announced that Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri, fresh off a performance against the Oakland Raiders in which he became the league’s all-time leading scorer, was named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week.
This is Vinatieri’s 18th-career AFC Special Teams Player of the Week award — the most of any player in NFL history.
The 23-year NFL veteran entered last Sunday’s game against the Raiders needing five points to pass Morten Andersen as the league’s points king. Vinatieri only needed one quarter to tie Andersen, knocking in an extra-point after a 26-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Andrew Luck to tight end Mo Alie-Cox about midway through the period, and then hitting a 26-yard field goal at the end of the first quarter to get to the 2,544-point plateau.
And, with 26 seconds to go in the second quarter, Vinatieri nailed a 25-yard field goal that officially put him on top.
For good measure, Vinatieri would hit another three extra-point tries the rest of the way, helping lead the Colts to their 42-28 victory heading into the bye week.
"I love my teammates, all of them, for the last 23 years unselfishly, for going out there and letting me do my job and help me do my job and [make] a lot of great memories along the way,” Vinatieri told reporters after the game. “Being in that locker room after — and that’s the best part about today; it’s less the record but more that we got the record on a win, you know what I mean? The atmosphere in the locker room and the guys there and the support, you know, it’s hard to explain on how I just love and respect the players and the game and all the guys.”
Perhaps what’s even more impressive is that Vinatieri certainly wasn’t a sure thing to play on Sunday, as he has been battling a nagging groin injury. After testing it out last Thursday and Friday, however, he was deemed good to go, and ended up hitting both his field goal attempts and all four extra-point tries for 10 total points on the day.
Vinatieri now has 2,550 career points — and counting.
“I’ve always sat there and said, ‘As long as I’m an asset and not a liability,’” the 45-year-old Vinatieri said Sunday when asked how much longer he thinks he can play. “You know, if I can do it at a high level, there’s no place in the world I’d rather be. Being in an NFL locker room is a very special place. I mean, the older you get the more difficult it is to keep your body where it needs to be but there’s something about the family of this locker room. Being on West 56th Street with all these guys is a special place to be and I’m not setting a stop or a timer or anything. You know, if I feel well and I can still do it, I don’t see why I shouldn’t continue.”
Vinatieri is the third member of the Colts to earn AFC Player of the Week honors this season, joining linebacker Darius Leonard and safety Mike Mitchell. Both Leonard (Week 2) and Mitchell (Week 7) were named AFC Defensive Player of the Week.
This is also Vinatieri’s first AFC Special Teams Player of the Week award since Week 5 of last season, when he knocked in the game-winning kick in overtime from 51 yards out — connecting on all four of his field goal and two extra-point attempts in all — in the Colts’ 26-23 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.