And so ends another era on the gridiron. Another NFL legend has announced his retirement. And when I use the word "legend", trust me, I am not exaggerating. After 24 seasons, many with the New England Patriots, kicker Adam Vinatieri announced his retirement yesterday.

WHDH/7 News Boston reports that Vinatieri made the announcement Wednesday on the Pat McAfee Show podcast. Punter McAfee and Vinatieri were teammates on the Indianapolis Colts.

Even if you were not a Patriots or Colts fan but just strictly a fan of football, you had to admire Vinatieri's heroics on the field. Vinatieri is rightfully considered one of the all-time greatest clutch kickers in history. His last-minute, under tremendous pressure performances, constitute one hell of a highlight reel.

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Let's take a look at just some of his career highlights. He kicked last-second, game-winning field goals in New England's first two Super Bowl victories. His 48-yarder against the St. Louis Rams in 2002 delivered the franchise its first Super Bowl title.

In 2004, Vinatieri nailed a 41-yarder against the Carolina Panthers to clinch the Patriot's second Super Bowl win. For their third Super Bowl victory, a fourth-quarter field goal from Vinatieri ended up being the difference in a 24-21 win over the Philadelphia Eagles.

Perhaps one of his greatest clutch performances though didn't even happen during a Super Bowl, but it allowed the Patriots to get to the big game. Famously known as the "Snow Bowl", it was the last game played at Foxboro Stadium under heavy snow conditions.

This particular game was the divisional playoff game against the Oakland Raiders. Vinatieri delivered the game-tying and game-winning field goals in a 16-13 overtime victory over the Raiders. The field goal in OT was pretty spectacular, but it was the field goal that tied the game to send it to overtime that was truly special.

Even Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, famously not known for being easily impressed, has called Vinatieri's game-tying kick the greatest one he's ever seen. All in all, Vinatieri leaves the game with some tremendous accolades:

  • He has the most Super Bowl wins by a kicker, three with the Pats, one with the Colts
  • He is the only player to score 1,000 points for two different teams
  • He is the NFL's all-time leading scorer with 2,673 points

And the list goes on. Vinatieri also holds the NFL records for:

  • Most field goals made(599)
  • Most postseason points(238), and
  • Most overtime field goals made(12)

Vinatieri retires as the third-oldest NFL player of all time behind Morten Andersen and George Blanda. He was also the last active player whose career began in the 1990s.

For more, check out WHDH's website here. Adam, I'm sure I speak for many when I say, "Thank you for all you did for the great game of football. Your last-minute, under the gun antics, brought a new level of fun and excitement to the game."

LOOK: 50 images of winning moments from sports history

Sometimes images are the best way to honor the figures we've lost. When tragedy swiftly reminds us that sports are far from the most consequential thing in life, we can still look back on an athlete's winning moment that felt larger than life, remaining grateful for their sacrifice on the court and bringing joy to millions.

Read on to explore the full collection of 50 images Stacker compiled showcasing various iconic winning moments in sports history. Covering achievements from a multitude of sports, these images represent stunning personal achievements, team championships, and athletic perseverance.

CHECK IT OUT: 100 sports records and the stories behind them


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