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Countdown To Kickoff: Matt Stover

 

San Francisco 49ers v Indianapolis Colts

With the game on the line in the final seconds of the fourth quarter, Adam Vinatieri is the perfect kicker to have. Unless, of course, he’s unavailable.

When Vinatieri went down with a hip injury in 2009, Matt Stover came to the rescue.

After spending virtually his entire career with the Cleveland Browns/Baltimore Ravens organization, Stover signed with the Colts midway through the 2009 season.

In what was viewed as a risky move, Stover rewarded the Colts by making nine of 11 field goals in 12 games. He helped the Colts beat his former team twice–once in the playoffs–by making three field goals in both the regular season and playoffs.

As the Colts cruised into Super Bowl XLIV against the New Orleans Saints, Stover wound up becoming the oldest player to ever participate in a Super Bowl at 42 years old. Having already won two rings in his career, he looked to close out his career with a trifecta.

In what proved to be his final game, Stover missed a 51-yard field goal that would’ve extended the Colts’ lead to 20-16 with ten minutes left in the game. Making the kick was a tall order–he was known for his range, having only kicked once beyond 50 yards since 2002.

Instead, the Saints took over and drove nine plays to retake the lead they would never relinquish.

The kick was Stover’s last; he was not re-signed after the season and officially retired with the Ravens in 2011. Hanging up his cleats as the NFL’s fourth all-time leading scorer, it was not the kind of swan song he had hoped for.

It’s easy to wonder what could’ve been for the Colts. In a sense, their loss to the Saints marked the beginning of the end of their dynasty. They were decimated with injuries the following season and Manning missed all of 2011 before being released.

There are no guarantees that the Colts would’ve won Super Bowl XLIV had Stover made the kick. They still had a chance to tie later when Tracy Porter sealed the deal with a 74-yard interception return.

Blaming the loss on Stover is unfair–the Colts were simply outplayed, and they knew it. Peyton Manning even admitted that the Saints “deserved to win.”

Still, his missed kick undoubtedly helped shift the momentum in the direction of the Saints even more.

Countdown To Kickoff Archive

Aug 21: Peyton Manning
Aug 22: Austin Collie
Aug 23: Ryan Leaf
Aug 24: LaVon Brazill
Aug 26: T.Y. Hilton
Aug 27: Andrew Luck
Aug 28: Donnie Avery
Aug 31: Matt Hasselbeck
Sept 1: Curtis Painter
Sept 2: Dan Orlovsky
Sept 3: Kerry Collins
Sept 4: Adam Vinatieri
Sept 5: Matt Stover
Sept 7: Pat McAfee

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Tags: Indianapolis Colts Matt Stover NFL

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