OAKLAND, Calif. — Adam Vinatieri, as he does in so many other categories, officially stands alone.
But perhaps it was the record he broke today that will go down as his greatest individual accomplishment.
Vinatieri today broke the National Football League's all-time record for points scored, passing Hall of Fame kicker Morten Andersen's record of 2,544 points he reached during his final season back in 2007.
Vinatieri's record-breaking points came off his right foot with a 25-yard field goal with 26 seconds left in the second quarter of today's Week 8 matchup against the Oakland Raiders at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
Vinatieri earned career point 2,547, officially passing Andersen, and cutting the Raiders' lead to 14-13.
As usual, Vinatieri — who had already passed Andersen to become the NFL's all-time leader in made field goals back in Week 4 against the Houston Texans — wanted to deflect all the attention to his teammates when asked about the prospect of becoming the league's all-time leading scorer in recent days.
"I've been very fortunate to play a long time and have some amazing teammates around me that have helped me achieve some goals," Vinatieri said. "Hopefully, we are not done yet. Hopefully, we have a ways to go still. I am sure I will appreciate when I am done and gone and sit back and think about it. Maybe at some point, I will try to go back and remember all of them or some of them along the way."
Vinatieri, 45, a 23-year NFL veteran, continues to cement his status as the greatest kicker of all-time, and today's points record is just the cherry on top. In his first 10 seasons with the New England Patriots, and now in his 13th season with the Colts, Vinatieri — a four-time Super Bowl champion — has remained the model of consistency and production at the kicker position.
"He's incredible," Colts quarterback Andrew Luck said recently of Vinatieri. "Hopefully, he's the first, first-ballot Hall of Fame kicker.
"And more impressive I think is his approach, his humility and how he comes to work, the attitude with which he comes to work, how he practices, how he prepares," Luck continued. "He's a great example for any young football player at any position. I certainly feel fortunate to be able to play with him. I have said this before, I get to tell my kids, my grandkids one day that I got to play with Adam Vinatieri."
That word, "incredible," was also used by Colts head coach Frank Reich when describing what Vinatieri has been able to bring to the table year in and year out.
"I couldn't be more excited that he is here, that he is on the brink of it, that he has the work ethic that he does," Reich said. "And what I love about him is the guy is, he is not – you would think he would be into himself, (but) he is out there getting the rest guys of these guys on special teams fired up. It's like he's our third assistant or second assistant special teams coach out there.
"He's the player, but he just adds that element of toughness, the right mindset, that winning mindset," Reich continued. "It's not just on the field goal team. He is about the whole team and his presence is felt out there. I am always each week asking him questions. I am asking him something every week just to kind of pick his brain. I couldn't be happier. The fact that he is on the brink of these records is really exciting for everybody. It's exciting for us as Colts fans and for him personally, but the reason he's got here is because he is into the team first, I think and just great talent."
And, as such, Vinatieri remains appreciative of his chances to be recognized individually, but as a competitor, he wants to win more than anything.
"I'd trade all that stuff in for some wins, you know what I mean? So the way I look at it is that record will, hopefully, come soon enough, and then it'll be the rear-view mirror and we can just stay focused on football," Vinatieri said. "And ultimately I think that's the thing I'm thinking about, and that's the thing hopefully everybody else is thinking about as well — we just wanna win games, and get back on the winning side. That's way more important than individual things or any records that are out there; they'll happen when they happen, and we'll just try to do everything we can to win games."