Kicker Blair Walsh lobbied for the 68-yard field goal attempt at the end of regulation in Sunday’s 16-14 loss to the Detroit Lions, feeling he gave the Minnesota Vikings a better chance at winning than a Hail Mary into the end zone.
The lobbying worked. Walsh got his opportunity to attempt what would have been a record-setting kick with one second remaining, but the kick fell a few yards short and wide left of the crossbar to keep the Vikings winless against the NFC North this year.
“No one has ever made a 68-yarder in a game, but it’s one of those things where I think most guys in the league could give it a legit shot and that’s what we tried to do,” Walsh said Monday. “I was lobbying for it. I’ve never been one to care about percentages or anything along those lines so I just wanted to go out there and I thought I could give my team a better chance doing that than throwing a Hail Mary at the end of the game.”
Despite missing two kicks in a single game for the first time in his young NFL career the week before, Walsh wanted a shot at giving the Vikings the win after they had given up 16 unanswered points in the previous 2½ quarters and lost their 14-0 lead.
The fact that Walsh had also missed a 53-yard attempt wide right in the first quarter and had a 26-yard attempt blocked midway through the fourth quarter didn’t affect his confidence with the would-be record-setter.
“I think you guys know me a little bit by now. I’m pretty confident in general,” Walsh said. “I know I can hang with any of these guys in the league and I just want to go out there and be dependable for my team right now. That’s really what I’m focused on right now.”
Walsh admits there have been struggles this season.
He has had a 48-yarder blocked, has been wide left from 48 and 56 yards, been wide right from 38, 39 and 53 yards, and was short from 56 and 68 yards.
All of that comes after Walsh set an NFL record by making 10 field goals of 50 yards or more in his rookie season and had three of 50 yards or more in one game.
But the last two weeks have been especially frustrating given the volume of misses.
“It’s been a strange two weeks, honestly,” he said. “You pull out a win against the Jets and you lose a close one against the Lions and you don’t do particularly play well personally either game. It’s tough. I don’t feel like I’m hitting the ball poorly, but my results say otherwise right now so it’s something I’ve got to get shored up and fixed.”
“You’re not in this profession to make excuses for yourself. You’ve got to hold yourself to that standard that you hold yourself, to a higher standard of performing, especially when you’ve done it before. You’ve just got to go out there and really just rely on what you’ve done and the work ethic and the time you’ve put into it to have a successful field goal.”
Although head coach Mike Zimmer wasn’t with the Vikings during Walsh’s rookie season, he says he, like Walsh himself, hasn’t lost confidence in his kicker.
“I have never lost any confidence in him. Like I say, at the end of the ball game, he hit it pretty good,” Zimmer said. “I thought it had a chance.”
But Zimmer admitted that either a Hail Mary attempt from the 50-yard line or a 68-yard field goal attempt is a bit of a “shot in the dark.”
Walsh said he was thankful to get the opportunity and hopes it will come again. He had hit from that spot in pregame warmups and said the blocked kick earlier the quarter wasn’t on his mind.
He believes that, with no wind or a tailwind, that distance is at the tail end of his range and he has confidence he can make it.
“I’m confident in my leg strength and my ability. It’s just everything has to sort of align perfectly for that kick to go in. Had a good snap, good hold and the protection was good enough to where we could get it out a little bit lower, but it’s just got to be perfect,” he said.
“… I’ve been doing this now my third year. I’m not a seasoned vet by any means but I know what it feels like to be successful and to fail. It’s something that I take pride in is how I work and how I try to bounce back from poor games or games that I wish I could do better and that’s something I’ll continue to develop.”
Walsh remains confident after rough stretch
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