FOXBORO -- Adam Vinatieri's been gone for eight years -- eight years -- but he still has fond memories of the place where he made his football name.
"It definitely holds a special meaning playing here," Vinatieri, the Patriots kicker from 1996-2005, said after the Colts -- his team since 2006 -- was eliminated from the postseason by the Pats, 43-22. "There are lots of memories here . . . some better than this one today for me."
Vinatieri, who turned 41 two weeks ago, kicked a pair of field goals and a pair of extra points -- the two PATs enabled him to set an NFL postseason record with 60 of them -- in the loss, and he thinks he'll be back to help the Colts try and take the next step next season.
"I hope so," he said. "Time will tell. I'm not ready to give it up. I'm enjoying it too much."
Vinatieri, of course, was a hero of the Pats' Super Bowl championship runs in 2001, '03 and '04, but the only two people left in New England from that first championship team are quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick. He spoke to both of them Saturday night.
"I have a lot of admiration for both of them," he said. "I talked to Tom before the game. We just kind of hung out and talked about family a little bit. [After the game, as] we were leaving, I told Bill good luck with the rest of it and go get them."
And so ended a visit that Vinatieri -- despite the loss -- enjoyed.
"It's always a fun place to play," he said. "The fans are electric. You know when you come in here it's going to be a battle, and you're playing a real good football team. Obviously, when you play against Tom Brady, and Belichick is on the sideline, you're going to have to play a great game to beat them.
"And they outplayed us today."