Tagged in: AFC Championship

Kicker Adam Vinatieri, NFL’s all-time leading scorer, retiring after 24 seasons

Kicker Adam Vinatieri, the NFL’s all-time scoring leader, revealed Wednesday on “The Pat McAfee Show” that he is retiring after 24 seasons.

“By Friday, if paperwork goes in, you heard it here first,” Vinatieri told McAfee, his friend and former teammate with the Indianapolis Colts.

Vinatieri, 48, a three-time Pro Bowl selection and a first-team All-Pro pick three times, scored 2,673 points and made a record 599 field goals for the New England Patriots and Indianapolis, where he played his final 14 seasons.

He made 29 game-winning kicks in his career, with three of them coming with the Patriots from 1996 to 2005. He made a game winner in blizzard-like conditions versus Oakland in the 2001 AFC playoffs and made game-winning field goals in Super Bowls XXXVI and XXXVIII. No kicker has more Super Bowl rings than Vinatieri’s four — three with the Patriots and one with the Colts.

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“Adam Vinatieri is the greatest kicker of all-time who made the greatest kick of all-time in the 2001 divisional playoffs,” Pats head coach Bill Belichick said in a statement. “His consistency, mental toughness and performance under pressure was legendary. I am honored to have coached Adam, going all the way back to his rookie year in 1996 and through some of the most special moments in Patriots and league history. Adam is in the rarest of echelon of athletes whose career accomplishments may never be matched.”

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady, who played with Vinatieri from 2000-05, took to Instagram to salute Vinatieri, writing, “When you look up clutch in the dictionary it should have your picture. An incredible teammate with an incredible work ethic. Honored to have played with the (GOAT).”

Vinatieri was part of 242 regular-season victories, and he broke career records for field goal attempts (715) while becoming the third-oldest player to appear in an NFL game. He scored points in 47 different stadiums, too. Vinatieri played in six AFC Championship Games, five Super Bowls and a record 397 matches including the playoffs. He also was selected to the NFL’s 100th anniversary team.

His 21 100-point seasons shattered the previous mark of 16.

He made a league-record 10 game-winning kicks in overtime. He holds the league mark for consecutive field goals (44), and nobody has been better in the postseason, in which he was 56 of 69 on field goal attempts and has 238 points, all records.

Vinatieri also played in 365 regular-season games, second behind Morten Andersen (382), and is the only player in league history to top the 1,000-point mark with two different franchises.

Vinatieri also managed to chase down Herschel Walker with a textbook, touchdown-saving tackle in 1996. Vinatieri didn’t play last season after a disappointing 2019 season.

He was placed on injured reserve in December 2019 after a season-long knee injury that started in training camp. The Colts stuck with Vinatieri even though he made a career-low 68% of his field goal attempts that season.

He missed a total of 14 kicks: eight field goals and six extra points, and two of his misses cost the team victories versus the Los Angeles Chargers and Pittsburgh Steelers. He also had three kicks blocked in 2019, including one that was returned 63 yards for a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans in Week 13.

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Kansas City Chiefs’ Sammy Watkins optimistic about playing in Super Bowl

Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins stated he is optimistic about playing in Super Bowl LV on Sunday versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after missing both previous playoff games because of a calf injury.

“Feeling great,” Watkins said Tuesday. “Still working out with the training staff and [athletic trainer Rick Burkholder], just going over everything so I can have a chance and possibly go out there and feel 100% or 95% or 85%, wherever I get at by Sunday. Feeling pretty good, very optimistic. Been having good practices.”

Watkins also missed six games during the regular season. He was fifth on the Chiefs with 37 receptions, 421 yards and two touchdowns.

In the final campaign of his contract, Watkins said he would listen if the team would like to re-sign him because he values winning and playing in Super Bowls over personal stats and money.

“I would say, let’s win this Super Bowl and see where my head will be at,” Watkins said. “It would definitely be something to think about. It would definitely be something I would talk to my wife and my kids about, to think about coming back. Would I love a third ring? For sure.

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“I would definitely not say no about it. … To come back and win a third one? Yeah. I don’t mind. I would definitely have to sit and think about it, see what my future holds.”

Watkins’ return would add another dimension to a dynamic Chiefs offense, led by last year’s Super Bowl MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

“You never see him get rattled… You just see the calm guy that’s kind of like controlling the game,” Watkins said of his quarterback. “I think that’s what has taken this offense to a whole different level… I think we have an offense that understands now, if we just do the little things right, we can’t be stopped.”

The Chiefs punched their ticket to their second consecutive Super Bowl appearance with a 38-24 victory over the Bills in the AFC Championship game.

The Bills traded up to get Watkins with the fourth overall pick in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft.  The team traded Watkins to the Los Angeles Rams in 2017, along with a 2018 sixth-round draft pick, in exchange for a 2018 second-round pick and cornerback E.J. Gaines, who opted out of the 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic and was released by the Bills in January.

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Patrick Mahomes lifts Chiefs to first Super Bowl in 50 years

With his best imitation of a tightrope walker, Patrick Mahomes high-wired the Kansas City Chiefs into their first Super Bowl since 1970.

They outran the run-oriented Tennessee Titans and star back Derrick Henry for a 35-24 triumph Sunday in the AFC championship.

At last, for the third time overall, the Chiefs (14-4) are Super Bowl bound.

“I mean, it’s amazing. It really is,” said Mahomes, had 294 yards passing and three touchdown passes. “To be here, to be a part of Chiefs Kingdom and to be able to do it here at Arrowhead, these people deserve it. And we’re not done yet.”

Adding to the joy of the achievement, coach Andy Reid and owner Clark Hunt accepted the Lamar Hunt Trophy — named after his father — emblematic of the AFC title. It was handed over to them by Chiefs Hall of Famer Bobby Bell, with Mahomes and safety Tyrann Mathieu jumping for joy on the makeshift stage.

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The Chiefs lost in 1967 in the first AFL-NFL Championship match — nope, it wasn’t called the Super Bowl yet — to the Lombardi Packers 35-10. Three years later, one year after the New York Jets shocked Baltimore to lay claim to the AFL being equal to the long-established NFL, Kansas City was back.

This time, it was known as the Super Bowl — indeed, Lamar Hunt is credited with coming up with the name — and his Chiefs hammered Minnesota 23-7 with the typical Wild West offensive flair and a staunch defense.

Those are characteristics that helped carry KC this campaign.

Reid isn’t as animated as Hall of Famer Hank Stram, who famously urged the Chiefs team to “keep matriculating the ball down the field, boys.” Caught up in the moment Sunday, Reid said, “It’s awesome,” before asking the crowd to chant “How about those Chiefs?”

Reid goes back to the Super Bowl for the first time since the 2004 season, when his Eagles lost to New England. That gap is second longest to Dick Vermeil’s hiatus.

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