Adam Vinatieri announced his retirement on Wednesday, ending one of the greatest careers for a kicker in NFL history. When a placekicker retires, it is very rare for him to be labeled as a surefire Hall of Famer, but that is exactly what Vinatieri is. He is the league's all-time leading scorer with 2,673 points and also holds the records for most field goals made (599) and most overtime field goals made (12).
Vinatieri is also the only player to boot a game-winning field goal in the Super Bowl… and he did it twice. In honor of his accomplishments, he was named to the NFL's 100th Anniversary All-Time Team alongside Morten Andersen, Lou Groza, and Jan Stenerud, all of whom are in the Hall of Fame.
Of Vinatieri's 599 field goals, some stand out more than others. Here are the five best.
5. Five field goals against Baltimore
Indianapolis Colts 15, Baltimore Ravens 6
Baltimore — Jan. 13, 2007
In the first playoff game without a touchdown since 1979, Vinatieri accounted for all his team's points. He kicked five field goals, including a 51-yarder, and Indianapolis never trailed. The upset road win was key to the Colts Super Bowl run that season.
4. Super Bowl XXXVIII
New England Patriots 32, Carolina Panthers 29
Houston — Feb. 1, 2004
Both teams accounted for 868 total yards of offense, but in the end, it came down to Vinatieri, who kicked a 41-yard field goal for the win with four seconds remaining in the game.
3. Consecutive field goal record
Indianapolis Colts 34, Tennessee Titans 26
Nashville, Tenn. — Oct. 23, 2016
Vinatieri missed a field goal against the New York Jets on Sept. 21, 2015, but did not miss a field goal for the next 23 games. He broke Mike Vanderjagt's record for consecutive successful field goals when he kicked his 43rd against the Titans. Ironically, his streak ended at 44 when a 42-yard attempt went wide right against Tennessee four weeks later.
2. Super Bowl XXXVI
New England Patriots 20, St. Louis Rams
New Orleans — Feb. 3, 2002
It's the kick that launched a dynasty. Tied 17-17 in the final seconds, Vinatieri booted a 48-yard game-winning field goal as time expired. It was the culmination of an improbable upset and the beginning of the greatest run by a franchise in NFL history.
1. The Tuck Rule Game
New England Patriots 16, Oakland Raiders 13
Foxborough, Mass. — Jan. 19, 2002
The validity of the tuck rule call in favor of the Patriots — like the Immaculate Reception — will be protested by Raiders fans for decades to come. What is not up for debate is the quality of Vinatieri's play that followed. After the call, he kicked a 45-yard field goal in heavy snowfall to tie the game and then sealed the win in overtime with a 23-yarder. The kick to tie the game was arguably one of the most difficult kicks ever made in the NFL.
— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports' Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.