Minnesota Vikings kicker Blair Walsh was one of the most sure-footed players in the NFL in the 2015 regular season. On Sunday, with a postseason victory in the balance, Walsh quickly became a trending name after missing what is considered a "sure thing" for an experienced place kicker.
The Vikings trailed the Seattle Seahawks 10-9 with just seconds remaining in the frigid conditions at TCF Stadium in Minneapolis when Walsh lined up a seemingly routine 27-yard field-goal attempt that would have all but sealed Minnesota’s first playoff win since the 2009 postseason.
Except Walsh, who accounted for all nine of Minnesota’s points to that time, inexplicably missed when he hooked the ball left of the goalpost. Just like that, it was game over and season over for the Vikings.
To his credit, Walsh stood at his locker and answered every question that was sent his way as he took the entirety of the blame and made no excuses.
“I can tell you this: It's my fault,” Walsh told reporters after the game. “I don't care if you give me a watermelon, I should be able to put that through. I know [holder] Jeff [Locke] did his job and [long snapper] Kevin [McDermott] did his job. And I am the only one who didn't do my job. So that's on me.”
To that point, Walsh did his job quite well. He had connected on three field goals from 23, 43 and 47 yards before the 27-yard attempt that looked as though like it would lead to him being the hero, not the goat. In fact, Walsh made more field goals (34) than any other kicker in the league this season, including all nine between 20 and 29 yards. For the season he made 87.5 percent of his kicks, fourth among kickers who made 30 field goals or more.
“I worked real hard to get myself to a place where I was very, very consistent for this team all year,” Walsh said. “And in that moment they needed me the most this year, I wasn't. So, that stings. I'll be working hard to erase that from my career, but it'll take awhile. ”
While some kicker move on from their team after a crucial miss, Walsh is expected to stick around with the Vikings. Walsh has been a Viking his whole career and was signed to a four-year, $14 million extension prior to the season.
In his rookie season of 2012, Walsh was a first-team All-Pro and a Pro Bowl selection. The 26-year-old also made all 10 of his field-goal attempts beyond 50 yards, giving him the NFL records for the most 50-plus yarders kicked in one season and the most 50-plus yarders made consecutively without a miss.
Walsh’s teammates were supportive of their kicker despite the heartbreaking loss. "He's the reason why we were in the game in the first place," linebacker Anthony Barr said. "We win as a team, we lose as a team."
Horror film: the Blair Walsh Project.
— Rick Reilly (@ReillyRick) January 10, 2016
I could of sworn I've seen a movie about this growing up lol you gotta keep those laces out #AceVentura
— Sean Smith (@SeanSMITH24) January 10, 2016
When you sat outside in sub-zero temps for three hours to see Blair Walsh miss a chip shot FG to win the game. pic.twitter.com/PtzMl4Wl7R
— Tom Fornelli (@TomFornelli) January 10, 2016