INDIANAPOLIS –Kicker Adam Vinatieri's first field goal attempt yesterday at MetLife Stadium came in swirling winds from 20 yards out.
Vinatieri nailed the kick, making the three-year old venue the 38th in which he has scored as a professional.
It was the 159th time during his career that Vinatieri had tried a kick of up to 20 yards and while no performer is perfect, his 96.9 conversion rate from that range approximates the success rate of his superb career.
Vinatieri added two more kicks yesterday under tougher conditions, from 47 and 50 yards, and he was successful in navigating the ball through the blustery conditions.
Through five games, Vinatieri has 38 points and is on pace to produce his 15th season with at least 100 points.
The lone times he has failed to do so were in 2009 and 2011. Last year, the club struggled with injuries, uneven play and through three starting quarterbacks. Still, he managed 93 points largely on the strength of his field goal accuracy (85.2, 23-of-27). Vinatieri's 2009 season was stopped at six games because of injury. He totaled 38 points as the Colts zoomed to Super Bowl XLIV.
Vinatieri has been an active participant for Indianapolis in 2012. He has made three or more field goals in three of the past four games. He did so also against Green Bay and Minnesota. He provided the game-winning points against the Vikings with a 53-yard effort with eight seconds left. It was the 24th game-winning kick for Vinatieri in a career that should lead to Canton.
Vinatieri stated a year ago in training camp that distance still is of no issue to him and that his stiffest challenge continues to be placing the ball between the uprights.
Queried again this year, Vinatieri said the non-issue remained the status quo, and he has gone about proving that in action.
From 40 yards and beyond this year, Vinatieri has hit five-of-six efforts. From 50 yards and beyond, he is three-of-four. In addition to yesterday and his game-deciding kick against Minnesota, Vinatieri added a 50-yarder against Green Bay in a 30-27 comeback victory.
Marwan Maalouf is in his first year as special teams coach and enjoys the chance to work with a gifted pupil.
"It's great. I've learned a lot, just as much hopefully he'll learn something from me," said Maalouf. "I've been fortunate to work with guys like Vinny, Matt Stover and Phil Dawson. He's been outstanding.
"Adam is a true professional. He knows the game. He is a football player. He's a guy who appreciates tackles inside the 20 or great punts. He sits in all our special teams meetings, kickoff return, it doesn't matter what it is."
Part of being successful is having talented teammates. Through 16 seasons at New England (1996-2005) and Indianapolis, Vinatieri has played on a few potent offenses. Those units helped him amass more than 100 points annually over his first 13 seasons, a streak that ranks second-longest in NFL history to open a career (16, Jason Elam).
Vinatieri is aware and appreciative of the play of the people around him, especially a number of quarterbacks with whom he has been associated.
"I've been very blessed with (quarterbacks), from Drew Bledsoe to Tom Brady to Peyton Manning and now to Andrew (Luck)," said Vinatieri. "It's a good group of guys that I've been around. I'm looking forward to having him (Luck) lead the team.
"I've been very, very blessed. When you have quarterbacks like that, you score a lot of points. It's a good thing."
Vinatieri now has 1,790 points, the league's ninth-highest total. He has hit on 397-of-480 field goals, an 82.7 success rate. The field goal total is eighth-most, while his attempts are 12th.
Vinatieri has appeared in 248 career games, tying for 36th in NFL history, and he has scored in his last 135 consecutive outings.
Vinatieri is hitting 84.3 percent of his field goals with the Colts, a higher mark than his career rate that ranks 13th in history. His percentages with Indianapolis from the different distances (97.7, 20-29 yards, 42-of-43; 82.8, 30-39, 48-of-58; 79.1, 40-49, 34-of-43; 58.3, 50 , seven-of-12) are higher than his career marks.
An avid hunter and enthusiast of all competitions, Vinatieri still experiences the "rush" of plying his trade.
"Oh, yeah," said Vinatieri. "There's nothing like playing professional football, just going out there and being in front of 70,000 (people), your home crowd or the away crowd. They're yelling different things. The excitement level is always there. It's hard to emulate that."