Adam Vinatieri

Colts' Adam Vinatieri makes bold Jacoby Brissett, 2001 Patriots analogy

Colts' Adam Vinatieri makes bold Jacoby Brissett, 2001 Patriots analogy

The Indianapolis Colts aren't the first team to turn to a promising young backup after suddenly losing a franchise quarterback.

In fact, Adam Vinatieri can think of a pretty good parallel to what the Colts are going through following Andrew Luck's retirement.

Vinatieri, of course, was on the 2001 Patriots team that lost Drew Bledsoe to injury during the second game of the season and had to turn to a young Tom Brady, who promptly led New England to a Super Bowl title.

Now, Vinatieri finds himself on a Colts squad reeling from Luck's retirement ... that will turn to a young Jacoby Brissett to lead it forward.

Vinatieri won't equate Brissett to the GOAT, but the 46-year-old kicker gave his 26-year-old quarterback a pretty strong vote of confidence Tuesday.

"That was a good roster, and this is a good roster," Vinatieri said, via The Athletic's Zak Keefer, referring to the 2001 Patriots and 2019 Colts rosters. "Jacoby is no slouch. He’s a damn good quarterback."

One could argue the 2001 Patriots, who finished 11-5 under Brady and boasted a stout defense that allowed the sixth-fewest points in the NFL, were better-equipped than these Colts, who went 4-12 without Luck in 2017.

Indy has improved over the last two offseasons, though, and it makes sense why Vinatieri would draw this optimistic parallel, especially since Brissett cut his NFL teeth under Brady in New England.

"We’ve got enough in this locker room to get where we want to go," Vinateri added, via the Indy Star's Jim Ayello. "So, nothing changes."

Brissett has the upside to keep Indy relevant this season. But it stands right now, the Luck-less Colts have a long way to go before the rivalry is back on.

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The NFL's Greatest Play? Here's 20 of them from Tom E. Curran

The NFL's Greatest Play? Here's 20 of them from Tom E. Curran

I didn’t include the final play from the Greatest Game Ever Played Or Bart Starr capping the iconic Ice Bowl with a quarterback sneak. I didn’t include the Butt Fumble, the Miami Miracle, the River City Relay or Billy Sims’ karate kick run.

As iconic, outlandish, memorable or indelible as those plays are, they just didn’t make the cut. Your results may vary.

With the NFL entering its 100th season, the league partnered with the Associated Press and asked a panel of 50 voters (the same panel that votes for the NFL Awards and the All-Pro team) to make their selections on a series of polls. The first one was Greatest Play. We were provided with a list of 100 plays and charged with whittling those down to 50.

We’ll also vote on Greatest Teams, Greatest Games, Game Changers and Greatest Characters.

Since any list like this is going to be subjective based on the voter’s definition of “great”, no two lists will be identical. I’d be surprised if many of us even agreed on the top five. It was left up to us. And, knowing how much people will care about this ranking when it’s unveiled, it was both daunting and an honor.

When I made my selections, I gave the most weight to the importance of the game and when the play occurred in said game. So I’m Super Bowl-heavy at the top.

Next, I weighed the play for improbability/degree of difficulty. Call it the “Fall Off The Couch” quotient.

I gave added importance to the plays that “launched” something. Say, a dynasty. Like The Catch, Adam Vinatieri’s kick through a blizzard to tie the Snow Bowl and the Immaculate Reception.

After that, I was going by feel. The most incredible plays (Odell Beckham’s catch), the most stunning plays (Aaron Rodgers’ Hail Mary against the Lions) and plays that summed up the essence of some of the game’s legendary players (Jim Brown’s 5-yard gain where it took most of the Cowboys defense to bring him down, Gale Sayers’ 85-yard punt return for a touchdown, Jerry Rice’s one-handed catch against the Rams, Barry Sanders undressing the Cowboys).

The omissions are what drove me crazy. Some were easy to excise. Garo Yepremian’s gaffe in Super Bowl VII. Jim Marshall’s wrong-way jaunt for the Vikings in 1964. Refrigerator Perry bulldozing in from the 1 in Super Bowl XX. The Butt Fumble. We remember them but they weren’t “great.”

But Derrick Henry’s 99-yard touchdown run? De’Andre Hopkins tipping the ball to himself for a toe-tap touchdown? John Mackey and Mike Ditka bulldozing humans like they were toys? Steve Gleason’s blocked punt for the Saints in the first game in the Superdome post-Katrina? A case could be made for any of those – and some others – bopping off Leon Lett getting tracked down by Don Beebe at the end of a Super Bowl blowout, for instance, which I had at 32.

The Patriots were involved in 11 of the 100 plays on the list. Malcolm Butler’s pick, Julian Edelman’s catch, Vinatieri’s Snow Bowl kick, Randy Moss’ one-handed catch over Darrelle Revis, the Butt Fumble and Ben Watson’s chase-down of Champ Bailey were all there. So were the Helmet Catch, Miami Miracle, Philly Special, Mario Manningham’s catch in Super Bowl 46 and Barry Sanders spinning Maurice Hurst like a top.

One oversight, in my opinion, was failing to include Tom Brady to Randy Moss in the 2007 season finale that clinched the 16-0 season and set the touchdown pass and touchdown reception record. Another would be Vinatieri’s game-winner in Super Bowl 36 but kicks – made and missed – were virtually absent except for the Snow Bowl.

But there won’t be a fanbase in the league that isn’t left wondering, “Hey, what about (fill in the play)!?” That’s bound to happen when you take 100 years worth of football and try to catalog the best of the best ever.   

Here’s my Top 20 (click to watch each play): 

1. Malcolm Butler’s interception in SB49

2. Santonio Holmes game-winning catch in SB43

3. Rams WR Kevin Dyson tackled at the 1 on the last play of SB34

4. The Immaculate Reception

5. Snow Bowl Kick

6. The Catch

7. James Harrison’s Immaculate Interception in SB43

8. Joe Montana to John Taylor in SB23

9. Helmet Catch

10. Edelman’s Catch in SB51

11. Minneapolis Miracle in 2018

12. Sea of Hands

13. Music City Miracle

14. The Original Hail Mary

15. Aaron Rodgers Hail Mary vs. Cardinals

16. Lynn Swann’s tip catch in SB10

17. Elway to Mark Jackson to complete The Drive

18. OBJ’s one-handed catch

19. Tony Nathan’s Hook and Lateral

20. Philly Special

 

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The Stephen Gostkowski hate still confounds

The Stephen Gostkowski hate still confounds

Stephon Gilmore’s reported restructure paves the way for the Patriots to lock kicker Stephen Gostkowski up for the rest of his career.

Local reaction fell short of unchecked enthusiasm. That’s fine. It’s a kicker and if Gostkowski wasn’t retiring, nobody expected him to go somewhere else.

But for card-carrying members of the We Hate Everything Club, the imminent re-signing of Gostkowski is an opportunity. It’s a chance for these runny-nosed pustules to bang their sippy cups on their trays and whine, whine, whine that THIS ISN’T WHAT THEY WANTED!!!

MORE PATS OFFSEASON

LOOKIT ME! I’m so hard-bitten, demanding and impossible to please!!! A rollicking success I am and that’s why you can watch me ejaculate misery on Twitter at all hours of the day and night!!

Here’s a sampling of responses to news of Gostkowski making progress toward a new deal: 

https://twitter.com/danmateus/status/1108908048825880578

The last guy, he sums it up nicely.

It has been ever thus for Gostkowski. I wrote about it last July, the fatigue a swath of Patriots fans has with him for the sin of not being either A) perfect or B) Adam Vinatieri. 

Gostkowski’s prime crime came in the 2015 AFC Championship in Denver when he missed a PAT that the Patriots ended up chasing all game and never could get over in a 20-18 loss.

Inopportune timing? No doubt. They guy also hadn’t missed one since 2006 and set an NFL record for consecutive PATs made. Does that make the guy a gagger? Hardly.

This past season, Gostkowski made 49 of 50 PATs and 32 of 37 field goals. He made all 10 PATs in the postseason and was 5 for 6 on field goals in the playoffs including a 40-yarder that sealed the damn Super Bowl.

MORE TOM E. CURRAN

He’s a two-time All-Pro, four-time Pro Bowler who’s made 372 of 425 field goals and 642 of 649 PATs in the 12 regular seasons since 2006. He’s missed just nine of 134 postseason kicks (field goals and PATs) in his career.

Does he give off a bulletproof vibe? No. And even reasonable observers can feel a little uneasy given the recent playoff record of Gostkowski. He’s missed a PAT in Super Bowl 51 and 52 and there’s the Denver miss we all remember.

He also missed field goal attempts in the last two Super Bowls.

How was Hall of Fame-bound, Automatic Adam? He was 26 for 37 on field goals in the postseason with the Patriots and in his last Super Bowl, he missed two field goals. He also drilled the game-winner.

But nobody’s going to come off looking like a genius running down Vinatieri, so I’ll stop right there. The point is, the Patriots couldn’t possibly have done any better at the position than they did when they drafted.

And if you’re complaining that the Patriots were able to reach accord with one of the best kickers in NFL history, feed yourself into a wood chipper. 

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