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Don't underestimate impact of kickers in often-close Super Bowl

Four of the last eight Super Bowls were decided by three points, so kickers could play a major role in this year's game.

Behind the numbers

   Every day this week, will break down a different statistical trend to monitor in 
  Super Bowl XLIV. 

» Monday:Brees vs. Manning
» Tuesday:Pressuring the quarterback
» Wednesday:Rushing breakdown
» Thursday:Positive turnover differential
» Friday:Field position
» Saturday:Super Bowl experience
» Sunday: Breaking down the kickers

If Super Bowl XLIV ends up being a close contest, the Indianapolis Colts not only will have reliable kicking on their side, they will have experience playing in and winning close games. For all of the Colts' dominance this season -- they won their first 14 games -- they tied an NFL record with seven victories by four points or less.

Colts kicker Matt Stover and designated backup Adam Vinatieri both have Super Bowl rings. Stover won Super Bowl XXXV with the Baltimore Ravens and, at 42, will become the oldest player to participate in the big game.

Vinatieri has four rings -- three with the New England Patriots (XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX) and a fourth with the Colts (XLI). He likely won't play Sunday against the New Orleans Saints, having been replaced by Stover after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery during season. But should Vinatieri be forced into action because of illness or injury, the Colts know they probably have the best big-game kicker of all-time.

Saints kicker Garrett Hartley is no stranger to clutch kicking, either. His 40-yard field goal in overtime of the NFC Championship Game propelled the Saints past the Minnesota Vikings and into the Super Bowl.

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