No one in NFL history has made more big field goals than Adam Vinatieri.
He has hit last-second game-winners in numerous Super Bowls and has been at the center of some of the greatest moments in Patriots history. He’s hit 701 field goals, 882 extra points and scored 2,633 points during his 24-year NFL career. He also launched himself into New England lore when he drilled two field goals in the snow against the Oakland Raiders in the 2001 AFC Divisional Game.
Lost in the shuffle of all of that might be Vinatieri’s holder, Ken Walter, who was the holder for 94 of Vinatieri’s kicks over three seasons, including two Super Bowls.
ESPN’s Mike Wells caught up with Walter (and several other of Vinatieri’s holders) to dish on memories holding for the future Hall of Famer.
On game-winning kick in the 2001 AFC divisional playoff game in the snow:
“With the Raiders game, the rule of thumb when weather is like that, leave the laces where it’s at. If I jack around with the ball in that weather it’s too difficult and it slows the process down. In the snow that day, you couldn’t see anything, we’re guessing where 8 yards was, and we needed every yard possible with it being a 45-yard attempt. When we get to the game winner on the chip shot, the snow was piling up. I love [Oakland coach] Jon Gruden to death, but he made the biggest mistake of his career in my opinion by calling a timeout to allow us to clear the snow. Adam already made one in the snow from a further distance. Then he calls a timeout to give us time to clear a spot. That was too easy.”
On winning kick in Super Bowl XXXVI:
“We’re in a dome, so there’s not much to worry about when it comes to lining up. I didn’t have to open or close him. Once we got set, it was like, boom. That ball was down lightning quick and Adam puts it right down the middle. He starts to run a little bit forward, then I run up to him, grab him from behind and rip him forward. Face mask to face mask, guys are starting to jump on us and I just kept screaming in his face, ‘We’re world (expletive champs, we’re world expletive champs.”
On game-winning kick in Super Bowl XXXVIII:
“We’re both jogging out for the game winner. We look at each other and give each other a fist bump and we’re thinking this is like déjà vu. Is this really happening again? It wasn’t that long ago that we were in position to have a game-winning kick in the Super Bowl. We get out there and to be honest with you, we were in a bad spot. The field [in Houston] was pretty ripped up. They used to bring the field in on pallets and there was a lot of seams. It was a mess. Just like you see the Patriots today, there’s sign language, there’s winking. That’s how we all operated there. It was in those tense moments, everybody had awareness of body language and what to do, what to change without yelling stuff. We had horrible footing, there was nowhere to put the ball and get a good spot. It was kind of like a hole. Carolina called a timeout to ice us, so we were happy. I had a nice little valley, nice little hump. Adam gave me the head nod to roll. Kick goes through. It was cool.”