INDIANAPOLIS — Adam Vinatieri has been no stranger to the spotlight over the course of his 22 NFL seasons, with game-winning kicks in Super Bowls, a historic field goal in the snow in New England to win the "Tuck Rule game" and helping the Colts bring their first world championship to Indianapolis.
But that doesn't stop the veteran. who in his 12th year with the Colts, from appreciating a primetime appearance on Thursday Night Football as Indianapolis prepares to host the Denver Broncos at Lucas Oil Stadium.
"Yeah, it's fun," Vinatieri said. "Thursday night games are – it's a quick turnaround for guys. Sometimes guys don't really like the fact that it's a Thursday game, but it's fun playing on primetime and having the world watching for sure."
A constant theme that goes hand-in-hand on Thursday nights is lack of recovery time for players' bodies who have usually played just four days prior, and even though those thoughts remain, coaches and players understand the special opportunity that comes with playing in primetime.
"Yeah, it's going to be a huge opportunity anytime you get on primetime, especially," veteran safety Darius Butler said. "Obviously, Thursday games are rough on your body, but we're going to get out there and try to find a way to get a win."
And that is something the Colts have done, specifically on NFL Network-produced Thursday Night Football games since the league-owned network began broadcasting games in 2006.
The Colts have an overall record of 11-2 on Thursday games since 2004, but is actually undefeated at 9-0 in games broadcast on the NFL Network, starting with their first, a 31-13 victory at the Atlanta Falcons in 2007.
While impressive, those records mean little as rosters can change from year to year. But inside linebacker Jon Bostic, who is in his first season with the Colts, certainly hopes to add to that Thursday Night tradition of success in Indy.
"For me, it's another chance to go out and compete," the linebacker said. "Obviously it's primetime – it makes it that much bigger. But really any time you're able to step between those lines for 60 minutes being able to go at it against another team it's always a blessing."
The head coaches on both sidelines, each of whom have less time for their staffs to prepare and implement a gameplan — and who are responsible for helping manage the health of their players — also realize the opportunity tonight's game presents for their respective franchises. While both the Colts and the Broncos have been eliminated from playoff contention, there's plenty of pride on the line tonight in front of a national audience.
"It's a challenge," Chuck Pagano said. "Guys like playing football. Guys like playing on primetime. Our guys are excited about having an opportunity to play on Thursday. They understand that it's difficult from a preparation standpoint and getting their body back and all that stuff. But again, we don't have any control over that stuff so we'll prepare the best we can and get ready to go play."
Broncos head coach Vance Joseph feels the same way heading into the game; he wants his team to enjoy the experience.
"Thursday night games, they get a lot of talk about being so soon from Sunday, but in my opinion, it's a great opportunity for both teams to show what they can do on national TV," the first-year Broncos coach said on conference call with the Indianapolis media this week. "I told our guys there's going to be one football game on in the entire world. It's going to be our game, so we're looking forward to it."
Anthony Castonzo looked forward to playing in a blizzard last weekend in Buffalo, and the Colts' left tackle is going to make Thursday Night Football as positive an experience, as well, and will enjoy the opportunity provided to everybody involved.
"Yeah, we know everybody is going to be watching so it's fun," Castonzo said. "Primetime games are always a lot of fun."