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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Blair Walsh dejected after missing potential game-winning chip shot

By Derek Wetmore

MINNEAPOLIS – Sunday’s loss to the Seattle Seahawks will be remembered for Blair Walsh’s miss near the end of regulation that sailed wide left from 27 yards out. It’s the biggest miss of Walsh’s life, and for the Vikings, it turned what looked like a sure upset into a crushing defeat.

There were other Minnesota shortcomings – Adrian Peterson’s costly fumble, the team’s collective inability to convert drives into touchdowns earlier – but as they wonder what could have been, none will sting the Vikings quite like that missed field goal with fewer than 30 seconds left on the game clock.

After he addressed the media in the locker room following Minnesota’s crushing 10-9 defeat, Walsh could be seen sitting quietly at his locker room, hands folded, wearing a blank stare and in apparent disbelief.

“The whole thing is on me and I accept that,” Walsh said. “It is shameful. I have to do better.”

Walsh kicked more field goals during the regular season than anyone in the NFL. He hit 34 of 39 field goals this season, and until that game-ending miss, he had been a perfect 9-for-9 on kicks shorter than 30 yards this year. He finished game-winning drives for the Vikings in Chicago and at home against St. Louis. He also hit three field goals earlier in the day against the Seahawks, including hits from 22 yards, 43 yards and 47.

That’s not what will be remembered about Walsh’s 2015 season with the Vikings. It will be the way it ended.

After Teddy Bridgewater connected with Kyle Rudolph for a 24 catch, the Vikings looked primed to hit a short field goal with very little time left on the clock. The Vikings defensive players already were talking about how they’d handle the ensuing Seahawks drive, once Walsh hit the kick many assumed was a sure bet, and Seattle got the ball back with about 20 seconds remaining in regulation, trailing by two points.

That’s not the way it played out, however, and Walsh was the primary culprit.

“We just wanted to make sure that we got in good enough field position. We could have either scored or tried to kick the field goal and not give Seattle the ball back, or give them the ball with little time left,” Bridgewater said. “We gave ourselves an opportunity, we just came up short.”

“It was very tough. But, you know, Blair, he’s done some great things around here. He’s won a ton of football games for us. He’s finished a ton of drives for us this year. So for the game to end like that, it’s just tough. .. It’s a very emotional time right now,” Bridgewater said. “This is a tough time.”

The Vikings started that fateful drive on their own 39 yard line. On the second play of the drive, Bridgewater targeted tight end Kyle Rudolph for the first time all day. The pass was broken up, but the referees flagged Seattle’s Kam Chancellor for defensive pass interference, which cost the Seahawks 19 yards and a first down. Then Bridgewater hit Rudolph down the sideline, and after a couple of Peterson runs up the middle to burn clock and pick up nine yards, Walsh came on the field on 4th-and-1 and missed the biggest field goal of his life.

When head coach Mike Zimmer took the podium, consumed with emotion, he said he hadn’t talked with the kicker. What was there to say?

“You can’t really say much when you lose a game like this,” Zimmer said. “Especially a playoff game.”

With the bone-chilling weather, there’s some thought that holder Jeff Locke did not put the ball in the best spot for Walsh; the laces may have faced the wrong way. And with the wind at the open southwest end of TCF Bank Stadium, it’s not the easiest environment for a field goal kicker.

“Snap maybe was a little high. But it’s a chip shot. He’s got to make it,” Zimmer said after the game.

“We missed a field goal and lost the game,” Zimmer said. “That’s life.”

Walsh, for his part, absorbed the brunt of the criticism. He said snapper Kevin McDermott did his job correctly, as did Locke, the holder.

“I am the only one who didn’t do my job,” Walsh said, “so this is on me.”

“I worked real hard to get myself to a place where I was very consistent for this team all year, and in that moment, the moment they need me the most this year, I wasn’t, and that stings. I’ll be working hard to erase that from my career but it will take a while,” Walsh said.

The post Blair Walsh dejected after missing potential game-winning chip shot appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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