Adam Vinatieri on M&C recounts 2001 season, excitement of Super Bowl-winning kick

Mike Cratty
January 31, 2019 - 2:40 pm

Former New England Patriots and current Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri joined Mut & Callahan and Jermaine Wiggins Thursday morning live on Radio Row in Atlanta to talk about the 2001 Patriots season and Super Bowl XXXVI victory. Wiggins was a member of the Patriots at the time and remembers the game fondly, especially catching the pass that set up Vinatieri’s game-winning kick.

The 2001 playoff run was quite the run for Vinatieri as he made two of the biggest kicks of his career. The famous snow game (or ‘Tuck Rule’ game) against the Raiders in the divisional round featured a game-tying 45-yard kick in the final minute to tie the game before then kicking an easier 23-yarder to win it in overtime. Vinatieri noted on M&C that it was the kick that he is the proudest of, and that it is the greatest kick he has made in his long career because of how much rode on it. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has also said it is the greatest kick that he has ever seen.

Vinatieri said he had never practiced in such conditions as the ones he faced in the snow game, but that he had practiced in adverse conditions to a lesser extent.

“Very seldomly do you get to go out and practice in eight inches, nine inches of snow, whatever, five inches, whatever it was,” said Vinatieri.

When it comes to Super Bowl XXXVI, Vinatieri noted the excitement leading up to the game-winning kick.

“I remember watching all the guys on the sideline holding hands, kneeling, praying, watching, and then you know, the sheer excitement after it went through and we won, that was unreal,” he said.

The Patriots were the underdogs throughout that 2001 run, a role they seemingly embraced again this year, especially going into the AFC championship game in Kansas City.

"We were the underdog all season long," Vinatieri said. "We were underdogs even at home against Oakland early, then we go to Pittsburgh. We were underdogs the whole season. I think we enjoyed that. I think Bill ended up showing a bunch of that stuff. Any locker room posts up stuff like, 'Hey, they're saying this and this and this.' "

Hall of Famer Kurt Warner, who was the Rams' quarterback in that game, joined the show during the same interview. It turns out he doesn’t have as fond of memories about that Super Bowl. He noted that although the Rams were expected to win that game, they didn’t play their best. While the Patriots were the underdog when he faced them, he noted that the tables have been reversed in most of the Patriots' Super Bowl since.

“I think that’s been the case for the Patriots in basically every Super Bowl they have played since that point, is everybody expects them to win,” said Warner. “It’s a lot harder when everybody is shooting for you and expects you to win that football game.” 

Bill Belichick doesn’t buy into that mindset for his team, as mentioned by Wiggins and Vinatieri.

“He’s so good at making sure guys stay focused on their job and really one-dimensional and not worry about anything else,” said Vinatieri.

In terms of the Rams' gameplan heading into Super Bowl Sunday, Warner says Tom Brady and James White are going to be a big emphasis for Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh, and the Rams defense. Making Brady especially uncomfortable with quick pressure through the middle will be huge. He likened this to the short dump-off pass against Kansas City in the AFC championship game to Rob Gronkowski that was intercepted by Chiefs linebacker Reggie Ragland. 

"Everybody who's sat down has talked about I'm sure, 'Well if you're gonna beat the Patriots, you have to move Tom Brady,'" Warner said. "You have to get quick pressure on Tom Brady. Well, that's a perfect fit for what the Rams do."