New England Patriots: 30 greatest players in franchise history

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47. . K. (1996-05). Adam Vinatieri. 10. player

  • NFL 2000s All-Decade Team
  • 3x Super Bowl Champion w/Patriots (XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX)
  • 2x First-Team All-Pro w/Patriots (2002, 2004)
  • 2x Pro Bowl w/Patriots (2002, 2004)
  • Most career postseason field goals made (56)

Yes, Adam Vinatieri is still alive and kicking, albeit for another AFC East franchise. Before he became The Godfather of putting balls through the uprights for the Indianapolis, he was the champion of doing just that for the Patriots. He’s put together quite the NFL career since going undrafted out of South Dakota State in 1996.

Vinatieri signed with the Patriots as a free agent in 1996 after playing briefly in the World League of American Football for the Amsterdam Admirals. He would go on to play his first 10 years in the NFL with the Patriots. As a rookie in 1996, Vinatieri first rose to prominence as the placekicker on the franchise’s second-ever Super Bowl team.

While the Patriots wouldn’t win Super Bowl XXXI over the Green Bay Packers, Vinatieri would make plenty of big kicks during his time with the Patriots in the playoffs. His first undeniably great game as a Patriots kicker came in the 2001 AFC Championship versus the Oakland Raiders in the snow.

This would be the last game played at old Foxboro Stadium. Vinatieri made a 45-yard field goal to send it into overtime. He then made the game-winning field goal to send New England to the Super Bowl in that extra period. No, he wasn’t done making big-time kicks for that Patriots that postseason.

New England was playing the heavily favored St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI. With the game tied at 17 with seconds left in regulation, Vinatieri drilled a 41-yard kick through the uprights to win the Patriots’ first Lombardi Trophy.

After that 2001 Super Bowl run, Vinatieri was seen as the most clutch kicker in all of football. He would go on to make two Pro Bowls and two First-Team All-Pros in the next three seasons. Even though he didn’t garner any major accolades in 2003, Vinatieri became the first kicker to win two Super Bowls on game-winning field goals.

New England was all tied up with the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl XXXVII. Carolina kicker John Kasay missed the entire field, allowing Tom Brady and the Patriots to start out that game-winning drive on their own 40-yard line. Vinatieri would sink the winning field goal over the Panthers to lift them to their second championship in three years.

Though not in dramatic fashion, Vinatieri would prove to be the deciding factor in another three-point Super Bowl victory the following season in 2004 over the Philadelphia Eagles. It seemed like he was here to stay with the Patriots. However, he would sign with the Colts after not being franchise tagged by the Patriots for consecutive seasons.

Vinatieri has made one more Pro Bowl and won another Super Bowl as a member of the Colts. Though well into his 40s, Vinatieri has locked up his spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His longevity, his excellence for two AFC clubs and his proclivity for making the big kicks puts him on the Mt. Rushmore of NFL placekickers without question.