Vanderjagt boosts streak to 25 straight FGs
Mike Vanderjagt hit all three of his FG attempts Sunday, raising his streak to 25 straight successful kicks.
MIAMI -- There have been times, like when he suggested on Canadian television this winter that Peyton Manning might never win a big game, when Indianapolis Colts kicker Mike Vanderjagt appeared a little too tipsy to see straight.
What he has rarely been culpable of, however, is not kicking the ball straight. Such was the case again Sunday in the Colts' 23-17 victory over the Dolphins.
With field goal conversions of 50, 44 and 25 yards, Vanderjagt extended his streak of successful placements to 25, dating back to late in the 2002 season. This season, he has made all 21 of his field goal attempts, and each of his 24 extra point tries.
|“||Yeah, you could say I'm pretty hot right now. I mean, the numbers say it, and I feel it. Every time I line up, I feel like it's going through, you know? But I've felt that way most of my career. ”|
|— Mike Vanderjagt, Colts kicker|
In fact, the quirky veteran might be about as automatic as anyone in the game right now.
"Yeah, you could say I'm pretty hot right now," acknowledged Vanderjagt, never lacking in the confidence department. "I mean, the numbers say it, and I feel it. Every time I line up, I feel like it's going through, you know? But I've felt that way most of my career."
And with good reason.
The sixth-year veteran is the most accurate field goal kicker in NFL history, converting 158 of 182 attempts through Sunday, a success rate of 86.8 percent. With 25 consecutive conversions, Vanderjagt is just three short of his own franchise record, but remains well shy of the league record of 40 straight conversions, set by Gary Anderson in 1997-98.
Don't bet against Vanderjagt passing Anderson's streak. Dating back to 1998, the former CFL kicker has more field goals than anyone in the NFL, and he almost never suffers the kinds of slumps that typically plague his counterparts.
Vanderjagt, 33, struggled at times in training camp and the preseason when challenged by free agent Brett Conway. But there was little doubt Indianapolis management would keep him around, particularly after he and Manning resolved their much-publicized feud. Both players have chosen, at this juncture of the rapprochement, to relegate their verbal sparring to ancient history.
"Really, there's nothing more [to say], OK?" Vanderjagt said. "We've let it go and that's what everyone else should do, too. All I want to do is help this team win games."
His strong foot provided a boost during a first half Sunday in which the Colts moved the ball but couldn't get it into the end zone. All three of his field goals came in the second quarter, and the last two came against a swirling wind when a strong rain hit Pro Player Stadium.
The night before the game, in a team meeting, Colts coach Tony Dungy stressed to his club the importance of getting something out of its forays into Miami territory. Even with 19 snaps on the Dolphins' side of the 50-yard line in the first half, the Colts could not punch through, and Dungy noted Vanderhagt's three conversions were critical.
"He's hitting it about as well as anyone right now," said Colts punter and holder Hunter Smith. "He has that look in his eyes, that every kick is going through the pipes, and every kick is right now."
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.
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