AFC Playoffs: Vinatieri is "Money" for Colts

Less than a year ago, former Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri was unsure where he'd be kicking as he explored his free agency options. But now he's days away from kicking against his old team in the AFC Championship after booting five field goals for Indy in their 15-6 win over the Ravens.

After Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri kicked his fifth field goal of the game on Saturday night against the Ravens, Colts head coach Tony Dungy could be seen saying the words, "money, money" with a big smile on his face.  With less than thirty minutes remaining in the game, the Colts knew they had their opportunity to advance to the AFC Championship game wrapped up with a 15-6 lead.

Vinatieri's contribution to the team's success this season has been significant. And with the team's past misfortunes with former kicker Mike Vanderjagt not performing so reliably during the playoffs, having Vinatieri handling high-pressure field goals is reassuring as the Colts take another step closer to a Super Bowl appearance.

When asked about the reference to being a "money" kicker after the win over Baltimore, Vinatieri said, "I think you have to perform every time you step out on the field.  And I'm just very fortunate that I'm on a team that can score a lot of points, and that the guys that are on the field the same time that I am do a great job -- Justin [Snow], Hunter [Smith], and all the guys blocking up front. They make my job a lot easier.

"You've got confidence in them, you know the ball is going to be there. So you just have to do your job."

Adam Vinatieri at his press conference after signing with the Colts (AP Photo/John Harrell)
Two of Vinatieri's efforts were particularly noteworthy in addition to the clutch 35-yarder that he hit to seal the win. He hit a pair from 48 and 51 yards, with the longer one hitting the crossbar with a thud -- but bouncing forward to put three more points on the board for Indianapolis.

Afterwards, the media jokingly asked him if his range is 51 yards -- or perhaps 51 and a half.

"On that kick it was, that's for sure," Vinatieri said with a smile.

The former Patriots kicker will face his old teammates for the second time this year as the Colts host New England this Sunday in the AFC Championship game. And he may find himself in the biggest pressure situation of his pro career -- attempting a field goal that could send his former teammates home, denying them of another Super Bowl opportunity while propelling his new team into the big game for the first time since January 17, 1971.

Although Vinatieri had a rough outing during the Colts' last matchup against New England on November 5th, making just two of his four attempts in a 27-20 win, he converted 25 of his 28 kicks over the span of the regular season. And he's 8-for-8 in the postseason so far, with five kicks of 40 yards or more, including two that were at least 50 yards out.

He's "money" all right. And the Colts will be banking on him this weekend to help propel them into the Super Bowl with that powerful, accurate foot. subscribers can listen to Adam Vinatieri's entire postgame press conference by clicking the link below.

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