End of an era? Vinatieri misses his shortest FG

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — If this season — his 23rd — is his last, it’s not the type of ending Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri wanted for the team and for him individually.

Vinatieri missed the shortest field goal of his career and an extra point in what was an overall abysmal performance by the Colts, whose season ended with a 31-13 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC divisional round Saturday.

“It was tough conditions out there kicking,” Colts coach Frank Reich said of snowy Arrowhead Stadium. “It was one of those days. It was all three phases. Seems like that was indicative that we were going to make a mistake like that in all three phases. We certainly had it there as well.”

With their QB back to playing great football and a nucleus of young talent, the Colts look like a team that could contend for years to come.

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Chicago-based Goose Island Brewery invited fans to attempt a 43-yard field goal on Saturday after Bears kicker Cody Parkey’s miss last week. Out of 101 entrants, no one was successful.

The Colts, who didn’t pick up their first first down until their final series of the opening half, got down to Kansas City’s 5-yard line late in the second quarter. Vinatieri’s 23-yard attempt — with snow on the field — then hit the left upright, keeping Indianapolis’ deficit at 24-7.

“Just didn’t get very good footing,” he said. “You need every point that you can in a playoff game, and that one we needed for sure. It’s a momentum swing and needing those points going into half and (I) didn’t come through for us.”

The 46-year-old Vinatieri, who became the NFL’s all-time leading scorer this season, had been 194-of-200 in his career on field goals between 20 and 29 yards. He was 97-for-97 on field goal tries from 23 yards and shorter entering Saturday.

It also marked the shortest missed field goal in the playoffs since the Chiefs and Colts played in a 2006 wild-card game. In that contest, Lawrence Tynes missed a 23-yarder for Kansas City. Entering Saturday, kickers were 71-of-71 (including playoffs) on field goal tries of 23 yards or shorter this season.

Vinatieri’s miss drew plenty of reaction on social media. Among those who chimed in were Charles Woodson, whose Oakland Raiders watched Vinatieri make a 45-yard field goal to force overtime and then a 23-yarder in OT to give the Patriots a dramatic win in blizzard-like conditions in Foxborough, Massachusetts, in the 2001 AFC divisional round.

Now he misses in the snow

Saturday didn’t get much better for Vinatieri, either.

He missed an extra-point try after a T.Y. Hilton touchdown catch that would have cut Indianapolis’ deficit to 24-14 with about 5 minutes left. Vinatieri, who had been 70-for-70 on postseason extra points in his career, said he’ll have to go back and look at what happened on that play.

Next up for Vinatieri is deciding if he wants to play a 24th NFL season. He said he plans to take a week or two off to relax before making a decision.

“Have a couple little things body-wise that I want to get checked out and make sure we’re all good and moving forward,” said Vinatieri, who will be a free agent. “I haven’t made a decision yet to be honest with you … If they want to talk, I’m willing to listen, that’s for damn sure.”

Vinatieri said he likes the direction Indianapolis is headed under general manager Chris Ballard and Reich. But the Colts will have to determine if they want to re-sign Vinatieri.

“It was a fun year, the guys were great in this locker room,” Vinatieri said. “I love all these guys. It was a real fun year. You hate to end a season like we did. But I guess there’s really only one team that’s happy at the end of the year.”