Todd Vanderwerff

Todd Vanderwerff

For some, it might have stunk of deja vu.

The Carolina Panthers had tied up the Super Bowl with a little over a minute left in the game after a long see-saw contest. It looked as though the Panthers and the New England Patriots would head for the first overtime Super Bowl.

Then, Tom Brady took control of the New England offense and marched the Patriots down the field to field goal range. From there, SDSU graduate Adam Vinatieri took over, just like he did at the end of Super Bowl XXXVI against the St. Louis Rams.

The situation was subtly different and the Patriots’ opponent was different, but the result was the same. Vinatieri split the goal posts with the ball, making the score 32-29 in favor of the Patriots. He then booted the final kickoff to the one-yard line. The Panthers were unable to convert and for the second time in three years, Vinatieri was a Super Bowl champion.

It was something of a redemption for Vinatieri, who had missed two previous field goals. One flew wide right and the other was blocked by the Panthers. When it really mattered though, Vinatieri connected.

“I was just very happy that I looked up and it was going down the middle,” Vinatieri said in a televised interview. “It’s a pretty damn good feeling, I can tell you that.”

Vinatieri’s teammates also had nothing but praise for his clutch performance.

“He’s the iceman,” said linebacker Ted Johnson to the Gannett News Service. “He never misses when the game is on the line.”

Vinatieri’s kick came from the 41-yard line and was only the third field goal kick to win a Super Bowl.

Jim O’Brien led the Baltimore Colts over the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl V, 16-13 with his last-second kick.

Vinatieri has kicked the other two field goals to win the Super Bowl, including the kick on Sunday and his 48-yard kick against St. Louis, which won that game 20-17.

The kick finished up a wild game, where the lead changed many times and scoring seemed evenly distributed.

The biggest lead held at any point was 11 points, when the Patriots jumped out ahead of the Panthers 21-10.

After that, the Panthers closed the gap, taking the lead 22-21 briefly, before Brady (named MVP) led his team on a late drive into the end zone to make the score 29-22 after a two-point conversion. The Panthers responded by tying the game, only to have Vinatieri seal their fate.

SDSU head football coach John Stiegelmeier said Vinatieri’s clutch kick spoke less for SDSU’s football program and more for Vinatieri himself.

“We were fortunate enough to have him in our program and be able to smile when he has success,” Stiegelmeier said. “We have a lot of pride in what he’s accomplished.”

Stiegelmeier did say that Vinatieri helps raise the profile of SDSU’s football program.

“I think everything like this helps tremendously. I don’t know if we can realistically go out and say, ‘You come to SDSU you’re going to play in the Super Bowl,’ but I think it brings recognition to the university and to our football program,” Stiegelmeier said.