Evan McPherson never has met or spoken with Adam Vinatieri, but the New England Patriots great had a major influence on one of the breakout stars of this NFL postseason.
McPherson, the Cincinnati Bengals’ electric rookie kicker, explained Monday how Vinatieri’s playoff heroics have inspired him.
“Adam’s definitely a guy I’ve looked up to and watched a lot of videos on growing up as a kid,” McPherson said during Super Bowl LVI Opening Night. “And still today. I love to watch his run with the Patriots, when he’s kicking game-winners in the Super Bowl. I think that’s every kid’s dream, to kick the game-winning field goal in the Super Bowl. So he’s definitely meant a lot to me in my career.”
The 22-year-old McPherson, who still was in diapers when Vinatieri drilled his iconic 2001 kicks in the Snow Bowl and Super Bowl XXXVI, has delivered a few instantly memorable moments of his own this postseason. Each of the Bengals’ last two games ended on walk-off game-winning field goals: a called-shot 52-yarder that sank the Tennessee Titans in the divisional round and a 31-yarder in overtime that capped an upset win over the Kansas City Chiefs and gave Cincinnati its first AFC title since 1988.
Overall, McPherson is a perfect 12-for-12 in the Bengals’ three playoff games, putting him within striking distance of Vinatieri’s NFL record for most makes in a single postseason. The latter booted 14 successful field goals during the Indianapolis Colts’ 2006 Super Bowl run.
He has his idol’s attention.
“I’ve been very, very impressed with him,” Vinatieri said last week on “The Pat McAfee Show.” “… He’s the real deal. Physically gifted, and he’s got a cannon of a leg, but mentally, he’s really tuned in, too. Anybody can miss a kick, I get that, but this guy just seems like he walks out there, nothing bothers him. He’s super focused, and damn, he just puts it right down the middle of the pike. … I think he’s going to be super good for a long time.”
On Sunday, McPherson and the Bengals will face the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LVI — the same opponent Vinatieri’s Patriots defeated for their first championship. If that game calls for another walk-off, the youngster will be ready.
“I just appreciate everything (Vinatieri) has done for our position and everything that he’s accomplished,” McPherson said. “But he’s done a lot for me, even not knowing me, for my career. Just to see somebody else make those kicks kind of gives you the confidence to make it. It’s super weird; I don’t know how to explain it. But I just love watching him go out there and hit the only walk-off game-winning field goal in Super Bowl history.
“I think that’s super cool, and if we get the opportunity to do that, I hope we come through with it. But I love Adam, everything he did in his career, and he’s helped me out a lot.”
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