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30 at 30: Number 24, Kicker Mike Vanderjagt

June 25th, 2013 at 11:28 AM
By Chuck Chapman

Colts 101 is counting down the 30 most influential members of the Indianapolis Colts organization. To view our last selection and see the rest of the list, click here.

'Indianapolis Colts RCA Dome' photo (c) 2007, Josh Hallett - license:

Former Indianapolis Colts' kicker Mike Vanderjagt holds the dubious honor of being the only player in franchise history to have been called an "idiot" publicly by a teammate. That's not what earned him a spot on our list, however.

Vanderjagt still holds the franchise records for field goals made, field goal percentage, extra points attempted and extra points made. Despite all that, it's some critical missed kicks that shaped both Vanderjagt's and the Colts' history.

Vanderjagt spent eight years in Indianapolis from 1998 to 2005. He was the beneficiary of being the one to tack on extra points in Peyton Manning's potent offense. His uncanny field goal accuracy, however, was also a big part of the prolific nature of the Colts' offense.

When Vanderjagt retired, he was the NFL's career leader in field goal accuracy. He's currently third on the all-time list, trailing only two kickers currently with two years of NFL experience. Vanderjagt's 2003 season was one for the ages as he went the entire season without missing a single field goal attempt. All 37 of his tries split the uprights.

Vanderjagt had some notable misses that cost the Colts dearly in the post season. His 50 yard bomb against Miami in the 2000 playoffs was his third of the game and gave the Colts a seven point lead. The defense couldn't hold Miami, however, and the Dolphins sent the game into overtime. Vanderjagt missed a 49-yard attempt in the extra period, allowing Miami the opportunity to score the game-winning touchdown.

In 2005, the Colts had improbably rallied to be in a position to send their playoff game with the Pittsburgh Steelers into overtime. Vanderjagt, who had never missed a kick inside the confines of the RCA Dome, missed a 46-yard attempt wide right with 18 seconds left in the game.

It wasn't a miss though that provided Vanderjagt's most ignominious moment with the Colts. Following the team's 2002 playoff loss to the New York Jets, Vanderjagt was publicly critical of both head coach Tony Dungy and Peyton Manning. Manning responded during the week of the Pro Bowl saying, "Our idiot kicker got liquored up and ran his mouth off. The sad thing is, he's a good kicker. He's a good kicker, but he's an idiot."

The combination of Vanderjagt's post-season struggles combined with his penchant for off the field drama eventually led the Colts to let him walk following the 2005 season. Vanderjagt would play one more season for the Dallas Cowboys, but connected on only 72 per cent of his field goals that season. Ironically, his career ended on yet another missed field goal in the playoffs, although this one wasn't his fault. Facing a game-winning chip shot on the game's final play, quarterback and holder Tony Romo mishandled a good snap and was stopped short of the goal line allowing the Seattle Seahawks to emerge with a 21-20 win.

Vanderjagt's enduring accuracy will be hard to top by future kickers. So will his enduring off the field antics.

Tags: Football, Indianapolis, Indianapolis Colts, Mike Vanderjagt, NFL, Peyton Manning, Tony Dungy

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