FOXBOROUGH --- While it's been seven years since Adam Vinatieri last played in New England, Patriots coach Bill Belichick lauded the Colts kicker as the "one of the greatest kickers since I've been in the league'' Friday when asked if Vinatieri, who converted clutch kicks that lifted Patriots to victories in Super Bowls XXXVI and XXXVIII, had Hall of Fame credentials.
"The longevity, the production, the performance in championships and big games? What more could he do?'' Belichick said. "Go out there and play wide receiver and catch a bunch of passes? Is that what he needs to do? I don't know.''
But, in praising Vinatieri for his body of work, which included 18 overall game-winning kicks during his time in New England from 1996-2005, Belichick was also quick to praise his own kicker, Stephen Gostkowski.
"Steve works hard. Heís been real consistent for us since the first year he got here. Heís really pretty much the same guy every day,'' Belichick said of Gostkowski, who this season has converted all 33 PATs he's attempted and made 20 of 23 field goals, including the last 11 in a row. Gostkowski converted back-to-back long kicks of 51 and 53 yards before missing a 42-yard field goal attempt in a 20-18 loss to Arizona in Week 2.
"He doesnít get too up, too down,'' Belichick said. "Heís made a lot of big kicks for us. Kicked well, not perfect, but he hasnít been too high on the highs or too low on the lows. Heís been very consistent with his work ethic, his discipline, his ability to adapt to different snappers, holders over the course of his career.
"Thatís something you canít control as a kicker but you have to work with. Heís done a good job of that and hasnít let it affect him, what he can control, which is his preparation and performance.''