INDIANAPOLIS - Adam Vinatieri spent all week ignoring the critics and then drowned out the boos yesterday with his usual late-game magic.
Vinatieri, last week's goat, overcame a subpar day to rescue the Colts, making a 24-yard field goal with four seconds left to give Indianapolis a desperately needed 13-10 victory over Kansas City.
"Every time you're out there, if something bad happens, you've got to be able to shrug it off and go back out there and forget about it if you can," Vinatieri said. "Don't let it linger longer than you have to."
For Vinatieri, the November slump had lingered long enough.
He missed his first field goal ever inside the RCA Dome against New England two weeks ago.
Last week, he missed a 29-yard attempt that could have beaten San Diego. That miss prompted midweek speculation that Vinatieri may have lost his title as the NFL's best clutch kicker.
So when he lined up for a 49-yard attempt in the first quarter, fans greeted him with boos. When he pushed that kick to the right, the chorus grew louder, and when he pulled his next attempt, a 38-yarder, to the left, the decibel level rose again.
Suddenly, Vinatieri had missed four in a row, his longest streak since missing three straight in 1999.
When it mattered most, however, Vinatieri was himself. He played through the soreness in his plant foot to tie the score at 3 with a 27-yarder late in the first half, drawing mock cheers, then won it with the 24-yarder that finally brought the crowd to its feet.
Clearly, though, the Colts (8-2) were missing more than Vinatieri's consistency. Peyton Manning again looked ragged with Marvin Harrison (bruised left knee) out for the fourth straight week, and Kansas City (4-6) took advantage of Indy's makeshift line.
At halftime, Manning's passer rating was only 23.4 and despite a masterful closing drive to set up Vinatieri's winning kick, Manning still finished only 16 of 32 for 163 yards with one interception and a 52.0 rating.
Kansas City's Brodie Croyle, making his first NFL start, was 19 of 27 for 169 yards with one touchdown, but he also lost a fumble that set up Vinatieri's first field goal.
Manning went to Joseph Addai eight times on a nine-play drive in the third quarter and Addai eventually scored on a 3-yard run to give Indy a 10-3 lead.
"We need to start playing a little better offensively and being more efficient and not counting on our defense to hold their offense to 10 points," Manning said.