Tom Brady and Bill Belichick will always be synonymous with the New England Patriots, but the same could be said for Adam Vinatieri, who announced his retirement from the National Football League (NFL) yesterday on The Pat McAfee Show.
Vinatieri, like Brady and Belichick, helped the Patriots win their first-ever Super Bowl championship against the St. Louis Rams in 2002 — he clinched the win with a last-second field goal weeks after splitting the uprights twice in a snowy postseason affair with the Oakland Raiders. He would win three more championships over the next five years, including one with the Indianapolis Colts in 2007 (the victory marked the first of two titles for quarterback Peyton Manning, who would win his second Super Bowl with the Denver Broncos in 2016).
The Yankton, South Dakota native has garnered multiple accolades throughout his career, including a trio of First-Team All-Pro honors along with a spot on three historic rosters: New England Patriots 50th Anniversary Team, NFL 2000s All-Decade Team, and NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time Team. He is currently the league’s all-time scoring leader (2,673 points) and holds numerous kicking records, including the most consecutive field goals made (44).
So, between his accolades and records, along with his four Super Bowl rings, is it fair to say Vinatieri is the best placekicker in NFL History?
My answer: Yes, he is, but some may disagree and say that Morten Andersen (2,544 all-time points) and Gary Anderson (2,434 all-time points) deserve some consideration as the best placekicker in league history.
Neither Andersen nor Anderson has won a Super Bowl, but they both competed for nearly three decades. Vinatieri kicked extra points and field goals for 24 years.
Andersen was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2017 — he is also a member of the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame and ranks second in the league in games played (382). He converted 565 of 709 field-goal attempts and was close to perfect when it came to extra points (849 out of 859 attempts). Andersen kicked for five teams but spent most of his career with the Saints.
Anderson has yet to be inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame but should hear his name called one of these days especially after tallying 1,343 points with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Four years after he left the Steelers, he enjoyed one of his best seasons with the Minnesota Vikings where he converted every extra point and field goal attempt in the regular season. His streak would conclude in the 1998 NFC Championship Game when he missed a 38-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter. The Atlanta Falcons capitalized on the missed field goal by scoring a game-tying touchdown on the ensuing possession. Morten Andersen would cap the comeback with a game-winning field goal in overtime.
Similar to Andersen, Anderson competed for five teams. He spent most of his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers (1982-1994).
All three kickers enjoyed successful careers, but after a quick stroll down memory lane, I still believe Adam Vinatieri is the best placekicker of all time. Had Morten Andersen won at least one — OK, maybe two Super Bowls, then maybe you could say it is a toss-up. Perhaps he would have earned more postseason honors, as well? But based on statistics and four Super Bowl titles, along with being the all-time scoring leader (as of this afternoon), I think it is fair to say that Vinatieri will always be the NFL’s best placekicker.
By now you probably have heard that Tom Brady – yes, the former New England Patriots quarterback – is headed back to the conference championship for the ninth time in the last ten seasons. Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneersrallied to beat the New Orleans Saints, 30-20, last night in the NFC Divisional Round to secure a date next Sunday with Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.
For the most part, Brady’s trips to the conference championship have resulted in trips to the “big game” – that would be the Super Bowl, to be exact – while some have ended in disappointment. But Sunday will mark the veteran signal-caller’s first appearance in the NFC Championship after appearing in 13 AFC title games.
Being a history nerd, as well as a lifelong football fan, I thought we could get ready for this weekend’s big game by revisiting all of Tom Brady’s past appearances in the conference championship round, beginning with his initial appearance against the Pittsburgh Steelers in January 2002.
January 27, 2002: Eight days after leading the Patriots past the Oakland Raiders in what has been dubbed the “snow bowl,” Brady received some help from Drew Bledsoe, who replaced the young quarterback who sustained a sprained ankle late in the second quarter. Bledsoe completed 10 of 21 passes for 102 yards and one touchdown while the defense limited Pittsburgh to just two touchdowns during the final two sessions.
January 18, 2004: Eight days after a dramatic win over the Tennessee Titans, Tom Brady and the Patriots outlasted Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts, 24-14.
While Brady tossed one touchdown in the win, it was the New England defense, specifically Ty Law, who highlighted the victory – the unit intercepted Manning four times while recording four sacks.
New England would advance to the Super Bowl and beat the Carolina Panthers.
January 23, 2005: Supposedly, Tom Brady was sick prior to his team’s championship meeting with the Pittsburgh Steelers, but he looked pretty good once the game commenced. Brady completed 14 of 21 passes for 207 yards while Corey Dillon led all rushers with 73 yards on 24 carries.
New England would represent the AFC in the Super Bowl two weeks later where they would beat the Philadelphia Eagles by a score of 24-21.
January 21, 2007: After scoring back-to-back wins over the New York Jets and San Diego Chargers, the New England Patriots entered the 2006 AFC Championship game with a lot of momentum. However, it slowly disappeared early in the third quarter as Indianapolis erased a 21-6 deficit to beat the Patriots, 38-34.
The Colts limited Tom Brady and the Patriots offense to just 13 points in the second half while Peyton Manning finished the game with 349 passing yards and two touchdowns (one passing and one rushing).
January 20, 2008: Tom Brady played the role of gunslinger in this particular match-up with the San Diego Chargers by completing 22 of 33 passes for 209 yards, two touchdowns, and three interceptions as the Patriots won their 18th straight contest before falling to the New York Giants two weeks later in the Super Bowl.
January 22, 2012: This was perhaps the most dramatic AFC Championship game for Tom Brady and the Patriots as they somehow edged the Baltimore Ravens, 23-20, thanks to a missed field goal by Billy Cundiff.
Tom Brady rushed for one score in the win, while BenJarvus Green-Ellis rushed for a game-high 68 yards on 15 carries.
Sadly, the dramatic win was quickly forgotten two weels later when New England lost to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl for the second time in four seasons.
January 20, 2013: Tom Brady completed 29 of 54 passes for 320 yards and one touchdown – he also threw two interceptions – but it wasn’t enough to send the Patriots past the Ravens at Gillette Stadium. Baltimore erased memories of the 2011 championship meeting with an impressive 28-13 victory, thanks to three touchdown passes from Joe Flacco.
January 19, 2014: For the second-straight season, the Patriots won 13 of 18 contests, but their final outing with the Denver Broncos concluded with a 26-16 setback. Peyton Manning completed 32 of 43 passes for 400 yards and two touchdowns while the Broncos defense limited Tom Brady to just two touchdowns – one through the air, one on the ground.
New England’s defense intercepted Andrew Luck twice – they also limited Dan Herron to 51 rushing yards on 10 carries.
The Patriots returned to the Super Bowl for the first time since the 2011 season to beat the Seattle Seahawks, thanks to a late-game interception by Malcolm Butler.
January 24, 2016: Weeks after losing to the Denver Broncos in the regular season, the Orange and Blue scored their second victory of the 2015 season against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Brady was sacked four times and picked-off twice, but he did toss one touchdown against a talented Broncos defense.
Peyton Manning concluded the game 17 of 32 for 176 yards and two touchdowns. He was also sacked three times.
January 22, 2017: Tom Brady and the New England Patriots were the better team in this meeting with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Brady tossed three touchdowns, including two to Chris Hogan, who concluded the contest with nine grabs on 12 targets for 180 yards.
January 21, 2018: After knocking off the Tennessee Titans eight days earlier, the Patriots scored their second-straight postseason win against a member of the AFC South. New England rallied to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars, 24-20, thanks to two touchdown passes from Tom Brady to Danny Amendola.
Sadly, the exciting win against the Jaguars would follow with a disappointing setback to the Philadelphia Eagles.
January 20, 2019: Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead highlighted an overtime win against the Kansas City Chiefs by combining for 154 rushing yards and four touchdowns. Burkhead clinched the victory in overtime while Tom Brady concluded the contest with 348 passing yards and one touchdowns.
Kansas City did intercept Brady twice while Patrick Mahomes completed 16 of 31 passes for 295 yards and three touchdowns. New England would go onto capture their sixth Super Bowl with a 13-3 victory over the Los Angeles Rams.
New England, which was a heavy underdog to the Rams, secured a 14-3 lead at the break, thanks to a 47-yard pick-six by Ty Law and an eight-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady to David Patten.
Vinatieri extended New England’s lead late in the third quarter with a 37-yard field goal before St. Louis quarterback Kurt Warner guided the Rams on a pair of touchdown drives in the final session to tie the game at 17-17 with 1:30 remaining.
On the ensuing possession and game’s final drive, the Patriots drove 53-yards in 1:14 to set-up Vinatieri for his game-winning field.
Before Vinatieri helped the Patriots beat the Rams in Super Bowl 36, he booted a pair of field goals against the Oakland Raiders in the 2001 AFC Division Round, which took place at snowy Foxboro Stadium. Vinatieri’s first kick sent the game to overtime, while his final boot secured the Patriots a spot in the AFC Championship game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
New England concluded the 2001 season with a 14-5 record – they won 11 regular-season games, including Brady’s first-ever start against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, September 30th, 2001.
Two years after the Patriots beat the Rams, they topped the Carolina Panthers in 2004 before beating the Philadelphia Eagles in 2005. New England would win three more Super Bowls years later in 2015, 2017, and 2019.
Tom Brady will be adding an additional ring to his championship collection, thanks to a hard-fought 13-3 win this evening by the New England Patriots over the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII.
Brady, who became the first-ever NFL quarterback to win six Super Bowls, engineered a key five-play, 69-yard drive midway through the fourth quarter, which was capped by a two-yard plunge by Sony Michel to provide the Patriots with a 10-3 advantage.
The Rams attempted to answer on the ensuing possession but saw quarterback Jared Goff‘s pass down intercepted by Stephon Gilmore. Nine plays later, the Patriots sealed the win with a 41-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski, who concluded the contest with a pair of field goals (his second attempt in the second quarter provided the Patriots with a 3-0 lead).
Los Angles did have a chance to slice the deficit on the game’s final drive, but Greg Zuerlein‘s second field goal sailed wide left.
The win – New England’s sixth Super Bowl since winning its initial crown 17 years earlier – ties the Pittsburgh Steelers with the most championships won in the Super Bowl era. The Patriots captured their first championship 17 years ago on this exact date when they defeated the Rams, 20-17, thanks to a game-winning field goal by Adam Vinatieri.
Neither team was able to produce points until New England’s fourth drive when Gostkowski capped a seven-play, 39-yard drive with a 42-yard field goal.
Los Angeles had a chance to even the score before halftime, but all three of its final series ended with a punt.
In the Brady-Bill Belichick era, the Patriots are now 3-2 in Super Bowls when leading at the break. The Patriots are 2-0 when tied at the break (won in 2004 and 2014), and 1-1 when trailing (won in 2016, lost in 2017).
Los Angeles is now 0-2 in Super Bowl era with their initial loss coming in 1980 against the Steelers.
Los Angles hasn’t won a championship in football since defeating the Cleveland Browns in the 1951 NFL Championship.
As an organization, the Rams are 1-2 in the Super Bowl with their lone win coming in 1999 when they defeated the Tennesse Titans, 23-16. The win over the Titans occurred in Atlanta, Georgia.
As an organization, the Rams are 1-1 when competing in Super Bowls in Atlanta, Georgia.
LA was held to a season-low three points – they scored just six points two months ago when they lost to the Chicago Bears, 15-6.
The last team to hold the Rams to just three points in a game was the Seattle Seahawks on December 15, 2016.
Sony Michel led all rushers with 94 yards on 18 carries and one touchdown, while Todd Gurley was held to just 35 yards on 10 carries (3.5 yards per carry).
Julian Edelman hauled in a game-high 10 receptions for 141 yards, while Brandin Cooks led the Rams with eight catches for 120 yards.
New England’s defense recorded four sacks, while the Rams recorded just one sack.
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The Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots will meet on Sunday at Gillette Stadium and certainly, I think many NFL fans are excited for this particular matchup.
Both teams have met 10 times during the regular season, yet despite Dallas’s seven wins, New England has won the last three meetings by a combined score of 73-33.
Here’s a recap of the past ten meetings between these two squads, enjoy.
Dallas 44 – New England 21 (Oct. 24, 1971): Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach completed 13-of-21 passes for 197 yards, and tossed two touchdowns, as well as rushed for one score, as Dallas prevailed and earned their fourth win of the season.
Dallas 34 – New England 31 (Nov. 16, 1975): Trailing Dallas 17-10 at halftime, the Patriots rallied to outscore the Cowboys, 21-17 during the final two quarters, but couldn’t muster their fourth victory of the year. Quarterback Jim Plunkett finished the game with three touchdowns, two interceptions, while Roger Staubach tossed three touchdowns – two to Drew Pearsonand one to Golden Richards.
Dallas 17 – New England 10 (Dec. 3, 1978): Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach connected with Billy Joe DuPree during the final quarter, which secured Dallas’s third win against New England.
Dallas 35 – New England 21 (Sept. 21, 1981): Cowboys place-kicker Rafael Septien kicked three fourth quarter field goals, which helped Dallas earn their third victory of the ’81 season.
Dallas 20 – New England 17 (Nov. 22, 1984): The Patriots outscored the Cowboys, 14-3 during the final quarter, but couldn’t stop Rafael Septien, who kicked the game winning field goal.
Dallas 23 – New England 17 (Nov. 15, 1987): Cowboys running back Herschel Walker scored the game winning touchdown in overtime, and ended the Patriots fourth quarter rally. Danny Whiterecorded one touchdown pass and two interceptions, while Steve Groganand Tom Ramsey combined for one touchdown, one interception, and 209 passing yards.
New England 13 – Dallas 6 (Dec. 15, 1999):Terry Allenrushed for 53 yards on 18 carries, as well as one touchdown, which gave the Patriots their first win against Dallas.
New England 12 – Dallas 0 (Nov. 16, 2003): Adam Vinatieri kicked two field goals, while Antowain Smithrushed for the only touchdown, as head coach Bill Belichick spoiled Bill Parcell’s Foxborough homecoming at Gillette Stadium.