Brace Hemmelgarn/USA TODAY

Mason Crosby’s 2012 struggles played into Minnesota Vikings keeping Walsh

The Minnesota Vikings used a bad season from Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby as one factor in deciding to stick with Blair Walsh.

The Minnesota Vikings considered plenty of factors as they weighed the possibility of cutting ties with kicker Blair Walsh this week.

Walsh has missed four field goals and three extra points this year, including a blocked field goal and a missed PAT in Sunday’s 22-16 overtime loss to the Detroit Lions.

But one factor that played into the team’s decision to stick with Walsh, at least for this week, was the struggles that kicker Mason Crosby from the rival Green Bay Packers went through four years ago. For the first five years of his career, Crosby had made 79.3 percent of his field goals.

However, in 2012, Crosby made only 63.6 percent of his field goals and Packers fans were irate, calling for him to lose his job. Instead, Green Bay stuck with him and he made his final four kicks of the season, including going 2-for-2 against the Vikings in the season finale, which included a 51-yarder.

“Yeah, we’ll always evaluate it, but there’s a lot of factors. You decide a lot of things,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. “We went back and looked at Mason Crosby, who I think is a really good kicker in this league. He had one year where he struggled and fought through it. I look at a lot of different things – the game winner he had at Chicago last year, the game winner he had at St. Louis, field goals that he’s made. I still believe in him.”

Crosby rebounded in 2013 to have his best season, connecting on 89.2 percent of his field goals and is at 88.2 percent so far this year, giving the Vikings hope that Walsh can pull out of his doldrums quickly.

“I don’t think it was necessarily psychological. We just have to cover the bases,” Zimmer said of Walsh.

Zimmer also said the Vikings’ decision to keep Walsh had nothing to do with his salary and Minnesota being tight up against the salary cap.

The Vikings worked out six kickers on Tuesday, but decided against signing any of them for now. Zimmer said he didn’t watch those workouts.

Quarterback Sam Bradford didn’t go through Walsh’s biggest miss in last year’s playoffs, but he said teammates still have confidence in the kicker.

“I think we all believe in Blair. We all trust Blair. Obviously I haven’t been here as long as some of the guys, but Blair has been a really good kicker for this team for a while. As long as he’s our kicker we have full faith in him that he’s going to go out there and make it,” Bradford said. “We watch him do it in practice every day so I’ve got all the confidence in the world that when he steps onto the field he’s going to make it.”



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