Kicker Blair Walsh stole the headlines and worked his way into Minnesota Vikings and NFL history with a 55-yard field goal to send Sunday's game to overtime and then hit the game-winner.
Walsh was 4-for-4 on field goals in his NFL debut and showed why the Vikings were willing to draft him and move on from veteran Ryan Longwell.
But Walsh's field goals were only part of his value. His kickoffs were also a big part of helping the Vikings to a 26-23 overtime victory in which all the little things could have meant the difference between a win and a loss.
Walsh hit five of his six kickoffs into the end zone and had three touchbacks.
As a kicking team, the Vikings rank ninth in the NFL by having Jacksonville's average start following a kickoff at 19.5-yard line. The Jaguars started inside their 20-yard line twice and the farthest out they started following a Walsh kickoff was the 23-yard line.
Conversely, Percy Harvin has the Vikings fifth in kickoff return average (29.3 yards) and they were sixth in average start position following kickoffs at the 23.7-yard line.
But the good times on special teams didn't end there. Sunday's opener might have been one of the most complete games the Vikings have played on special teams in a long time.
Chris Kluwe is fifth in net punting average at 44.4 and ninth in gross average at 48.4. Jacksonville's punt returners only got 20 yards on four returns, as the Vikings' punt coverage unit is fifth in punt return average.
The Vikings even did well returning punts, leaving Marcus Sherels tied for sixth with an 11-yard average on his punt returns.
In addition to Walsh kicking the second-longest field goal in Vikings history, his 55-yarder that sent the game to overtime, he is obviously tied for first by hitting 100 percent of his field goals and his 14 points has him tied for fourth in scoring among kickers.
His performance has him as one of the finalists for the NFL rookie of the week award on NFL.com/rookies.
TOP AND BOTTOM 10
While the special teams units were indeed special Sunday, the offense and defense registered a few top-10 performances.
The Vikings offense is 10th overall and 10th in rushing, but because they only ran 59 plays the Vikings are fifth in yards per play and fourth in net passing yards per play.
QB Christian Ponder and the coaching staff got their wishes about being efficient on first down. The Vikings averaged 7.63 yards on first downs, third in the NFL in Week 1.
Ponder is ranked ninth in passer rating with his career-best 105.5 mark. Despite all the talk of first- and second-year quarterbacks starting on Sunday, Ponder and Robert Griffin III, who led the NFL with a 139.9 rating, were the only quarterbacks with less than three years of experience who were in the top 10.
Ponder was fifth in completion percentage and fourth in average gain, but his rating dropped to 68.8 on third downs, when he completed only 3 of 7 passes. The big blight for the offense was on third down – it is ranked 26th in third-down efficiency.
Adrian Peterson is tied for first in scoring among non-kickers with 12 points. Nine other players in the NFL also scored two touchdowns.
Harvin is tied for eighth in the NFL with six first downs – five receiving and one rushing.
The defense, however, doesn't have as many top-10 rankings.
The Vikings are eighth in red zone defense, allowing a touchdown only once in the three times the Jaguars got inside the 20-yard line.
Overall, the Vikings are 10th in offense (10th rushing and tied for 13th passing) and 17th in defense (18th against the run and 16th against the pass).
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
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