Adam Vinatieri becomes NFL's all-time points leader

The NFL has a new career leader in points scored: Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri has broken the record held for more than a decade by Morten Andersen.

A second-quarter field goal against the Oakland Raiders gave Vinatieri the record.

Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri became the NFL’s all-time leading scorer on Sunday. (AP)
Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri became the NFL’s all-time leading scorer on Sunday. (AP)

History: 2,547 points

Vinatieri kicked a 25-yard field goal with 26 seconds left in the first half, which gave him 2,547 points in his career and the record by himself. After the kick, teammates and coaches all sought him out to recognize the achievement.

In a video shown on CBS, Andersen, on a golf course and wearing his Hall of Fame gold jacket, congratulated Vinatieri on the achievement. Earlier this season, Vinatieri also set the NFL record for most field goals made.

Vinatieri was listed as questionable for the game because of a groin injury. Earlier this week, the Colts worked out kickers just in case Vinatieri couldn’t play, but he was at practice on Thursday and was booting 55-yard kicks during warmup on Sunday.

Andersen held the record for over a decade; he retired after the 2007 season. He had claimed the record from Gary Anderson, who had 2,434 points when he retired in 2004.

Vinatieri tied Andersen’s record at the end of the first quarter, when he hit a 26-yard field goal.

More history for Vinatieri

The 45-year-old Vinatieri, who is the oldest active player in the NFL (he’ll turn 46 two days before the regular-season finale), is in his 23rd season. He spent his first 10 years with the New England Patriots, where he forever became part of franchise lore with unforgettable kicks against the Oakland Raiders in the snow in the 2001 season’s playoffs (the contest that lives on as the “Tuck Rule game”), and a few weeks later in Super Bowl XXXVI, when he nailed the 48-yard game-winner to upset the St. Louis Rams and help jump-start a dynasty that continues today.

He hit another game-winner at the gun two years later, a 41-yard field goal to give the Patriots the win over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl XXXVIII. He’s the only player with two Super Bowl-winning kicks.

Indeed, in 30 career postseason games, Vinatieri has converted 66 of 66 extra points and 56 of 68 field goals (82.4 percent).

After spending 10 years with the Patriots, Vinatieri signed with the Colts as a free agent in 2006, a move that New England fans weren’t too happy about – Peyton Manning and Indianapolis were the enemy. But the move worked out for all sides in retrospect: Vinatieri got the money from the Colts that the Patriots were unwilling to pay, along with a fourth Super Bowl ring that season; Indianapolis got a fantastic kicker; and the Patriots drafted Stephen Gostkowski, who is still kicking for the team.

Hall of Fame in future?

Sometime in the future, Vinatieri will almost certainly join Andersen and Jan Stenerud as just the third pure placekicker in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It’s not sure when that will happen, though, since Vinatieri said earlier this year that he’d like to play for a few more seasons, with an eye on George Blanda’s record for oldest player in league history.

Blanda played until he was 48 years, 109 days old; to break that record, Vinatieri would have to play until at least Week 1 of the 2021 season.

Amazingly, he was far from a surefire kicking star as a player at Division II South Dakota State.

As chronicled by Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Eisenberg this past week, Vinatieri was benched at one point during his junior season and the team used a toe-kicking defensive lineman in his place. Vinatieri had the leg, but he had little to no formal coaching; South Dakota State didn’t have a kicking coach.

Perhaps more amazingly, the man who taught Vinatieri how to be a better kicker, Doug Blevins, has never kicked a football himself – he has spent most of his life in a wheelchair because of cerebral palsy.

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