Vinatieri’s struggles give Irsay cause for ‘concern’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Indianapolis Colts have a kicking problem the team said must be addressed immediately.

Veteran kicker Adam Vinatieri, the NFL’s all-time leading scorer, missed two more extra-point kicks and almost became the reason the Colts lost for the second straight week in their 19-17 victory over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.

“Breaks my heart to see it because I know how hard (Vinatieri) works,” Colts owner Jim Irsay said outside the locker room after the game. “Of course it’s a concern. I can’t lie to you guys. Anyone would tell you it’s a concern. Adam, coach (Frank Reich), (general manager) Chris (Ballard), me. Yeah, I mean, in this league, it’s professional football. We all have to produce.

“The expectation is to win when you’re a professional. So we have to figure out where we’re at there and see what coach and Chris think is the best direction. And I know Adam will be the most self-honest person of all, so we’ll see where we’re at.”

Vinatieri has lasted 24 years in the NFL by being reliable. But now he’s a weak link on the roster for the Colts after the two missed extra points, which are 33-yard kicks. He has already had the same number of missed extra points in two games — three — that he missed in all of 2018 on 47 attempts.

“I have zero concern,” Reich said. “He hit the upright on the one. You guys probably saw the first one. It was not a good operation. That snap and hold was not clean, the ball barely got on the ground. It was not clean.”

Vinatieri took “100 percent” of the blame after missing three kicks in the Colts’ Week 1 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.

Vinatieri has now missed an extra point in three straight regular-season games, going back to last season. That’s the longest streak of his NFL career. He has also missed an extra point in four of the past five games overall, which includes the playoffs, and he’s missed a total of seven kicks in the past three games.

That’s a drastic falloff for a kicker who made winning field goals in Super Bowls XXXVI and XXXVIII and nailed kicks in blizzard conditions during his career with the New England Patriots.

But time has appeared to catch up with the 46-year-old Vinatieri, who re-signed with the Colts last winter because he thought he could still be effective. Vinatieri, a future Hall of Famer, immediately left the locker room Sunday while saying very few words.

“You’ll hear from me (Monday),” he said.

When reminded that Monday is the players’ day off, Vinatieri reiterated, “Yeah, you will (hear from me).”

It’s been more than 20 years since the Colts have had to worry about their kickers. But now might be the time for Ballard to find Vinatieri’s replacement.

“This is a man of very tough cloth, and I know all our fans, like I, hurt with Adam,” Irsay said. “No one hurts worse than Adam does.”

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