Vinatieri continues coming through in the clutch at age 43
INDIANAPOLIS -- At age 43, Adam Vinatieri hasn't lost a thing.
The NFL's oldest player is still kickin' it with guys almost half his age. If anything, the best clutch kicker in NFL history seems to be improving with age.
On Sunday, Vinatieri made all five field goal attempts, including two from more than 50 yards, to help the Indianapolis Colts get past the Chicago Bears 29-23.
"He is just money," coach Chuck Pagano said. "Twenty-one years (in the league), 43 years old, all that stuff, and producing and doing the things that he's doing, it's just incredible."
View from the sidelines: NFL cheerleaders 2016.
Aside from the graying temples and the calming voice in the locker room, there's no hint Vinatieri's end is nearing.
Instead, he continues to play the game like a young kid.
The four-time Super Bowl champion has made a career-high five field goals in six regular-season games. It's the first time he achieved the feat since 2013 -- and it comes more than two decades after his first milestone day, Sept. 22, 1996 against Jacksonville.
If that's not enough to marvel at, there is this: Vinatieri has made 38 straight field goals dating to last season, a career high, and he needs five more to break Mike Vanderjagt's record, set from 2002-04. Vanderjagt was Vinatieri's predecessor in Indy (2-3).
Still not enough?
Vinatieri extended his streak of field goals made from 50 or more yards to nine, thanks to a 54-yarder in the first quarter Sunday and a 53-yarder into the open window end of Lucas Oil Stadium -- the end Vinatieri told the Fox broadcast team would probably cost kickers about 5 yards on their range.
Naturally, Vinatieri still made it because he's at his best when the Colts need him most .
"I'm just happy I made all the kicks today, went out there and helped put points on the board," he said in his typically low-key tone. "It was a good day."
Meanwhile, 30-year old kicker Connor Barth missed a 54-yarder into the closed end of the stadium and a 49-yarder after the Bears got a second chance because the Colts were called for running into the kicker penalty.
That crucial sequence prompted postgame questions about whether the Bears (1-4) may try out some players this week.
"I think the kicker missed one kick and I think it was plus-50," Chicago coach John Fox said. "I don't know that that was his forte coming in to begin with, but we look at everything every week. I don't think that's on one guy."
In Indianapolis, it's one of the few positions the Colts don't worry about.
Time after time, Vinatieri has bailed the Colts out when the offense has bogged down or bungled chances, as was the case again Sunday when the Colts were called for delay of game on third-and-4 from the Bears 23-yard line with 2:39 to go and following a timeout. Luck's ensuing pass to Phillip Dorsett in the front corner of the end zone fell incomplete.
But Vinatieri made a 46-yard field goal, forcing Chicago (1-4) to win the game with a touchdown rather than sending it to overtime with another field goal.
"We preach all the time, `Do your job,' and it's my job to go out and try to put points on the board," Vinatieri said. "I'm happy it's going in there right now."