Blair Walsh has a message: One bad game does not define a career.
The Minnesota Vikings kicker fielded several interviews over the last five days since he missed three field goals and an extra point in Saturday’s 20-12 win over the Oakland Raiders.
The winds were swirling and rain falling at TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday, and lightning caused a 65-minute delay in the second quarter. Still, Walsh isn’t blaming the weather for the worst game of his career.
“It is a factor, but that’s not why it happened. I could have made all those kicks that I had,” Walsh said Wednesday. “One miss leads to the next. You’re not having to attempt that 49-yarder at the end of the game if you make the ones before. They all kind of piggyback off each other and that’s how the night was.”
Walsh missed wide right from 35 and 49 yards and wide left from 35 yards, as well as missing an extra point. His pushes to the right all had a common theme, he said.
“I just didn’t hit it the exact way I wanted to. It wasn’t hit straight up the field. I kind of cut underneath the ball the ones that I pushed right. I’m just focused on not doing that out here,” he said after Wednesday’s practice.
“I’ve been kicking well all camp so I didn’t want to make any wholesale changes or anything crazy. I’ve just got to finish a little more.”
During the game, head coach Mike Zimmer said something to Walsh after one of his misses when he returned to the sideline. Walsh said he expects a coach will be upset after misses but the kicker said he needs to remain calm.
“That’s good because sometimes I get upset and I might say some things to some players when they’re not doing what I want them to do. But I think everybody that plays for us understands they have a job to do,” Zimmer said. “We expect him to do that and so, whether it’s the kicker or the quarterback or the middle linebacker, we’re going to let him know when we’re not pleased. Sometimes it’s good to get a little pressure put on by the coach.”
While Saturday’s game was the exception, most of Walsh’s career misses have come from 50 yards and beyond. In some ways, his success as a rookie – going 10-for-10 from that long distance in 2012 – has the raised the bar of expectations. After three years in the league, he is now 17-for-24 from 50 yards and beyond, and he holds tightly to that for confidence during and after rough games, like Saturday’s outing.
“Hell, I’m 17 out of 24. I’m pretty sure a lot of teams would take that percentage, to be completely honest with you,” he said. “They’re not automatic and we haven’t played in the greatest of conditions, but, hell, I’m making a good amount of them. I wouldn’t exactly worry about that.”
Walsh said his confidence is “not an issue,” and he portrays that confidence even after sub-par performances.
“You have to. You’ve just got to go out there and realize how good you are and you’ve been doing this a long time,” he said. “You’ve been in this league for a reason and they’ve given a contract for a reason so you’ve got to go prove it.”
In July, Walsh received a $13 million extension that puts him under contract through 2019 and has $3.75 million guaranteed.
He said carrying that heavy contract, which is the sixth-highest average per year among NFL kickers, doesn’t weight on him, but …
“It’s part it,” he said. “You have to go and prove yourself and prove your worth and I will and they believe I will and I believe I will.
“… Like I always say, judge me on my career, not on one game. Just keep moving.”