Vikings' Walsh putting missed field goal in playoffs behind him
EDEN PRAIRIE -- Considering the magnitude and painful finality of his last field-goal attempt, the only way Blair Walsh can silence his critics is to make one to win a playoff game in the closing seconds.
EDEN PRAIRIE - Considering the magnitude and painful finality of his last field-goal attempt, the only way Blair Walsh can silence his critics is to make one to win a playoff game in the closing seconds.
Until then, everything else is pretty much baby steps for the Minnesota Vikings young kicker as he moves toward a similar opportunity and away from the 27-yarder that he pulled badly left with 22 seconds left in January’s 10-9 wild-card playoff loss to Seattle at TCF Bank Stadium.
Wednesday, Walsh took the tiniest of baby steps during an OTA session at the team’s indoor facility. In his first field-goal attempts during a team portion of the spring OTA schedule, Walsh made all five attempts. He was right down the middle from 30, 33, 35, 37 and 40 yards.
“I feel like I am better than I was last year,” Walsh said after the workout. “I’m ready to go, honestly. I’m excited to go. Today was our first day doing live reps. It will be fun.”
Without question, Walsh is the Vikings’ player most likely to be placed on one of those trendy preseason hot seats. He made 34 of 39 field-goal attempts during the regular season and was 3-for-3 in the playoff game before missing his last kick. But it’s that last kick that spooks a fan base that’s had more than its share of haunting losses over the years.
Don’t fret, Walsh says. After all, he’s not, he says.
“My common message to (those who have reached out to him) is it’s one moment,” Walsh said. “It won’t define me.”
Walsh was asked if he blocks out the memory of the miss or uses it as motivation.
“A little bit of both,” he said. “I’m way past the point of being upset about it or, you know, to the point where it bothers you like that. It’s something I’ve already dealt with and gone through. On a day-to-day basis, no, I don’t think about it. I really don’t use it like that.
“That initial month or so period, I definitely looked at it as motivation for me. But, like I said before, I had a good year. That was enough motivation for me going into this year.
“I thought I had one of my better years as a pro. It was unfortunate how it ended. The nice thing is it keeps you hungry, keeps you motivated. Not that I’m not already, but it’s just a little extra fuel for the fire.”
The good news is Walsh no longer will be kicking in the wind and below-zero temps of TCF Bank Stadium. After two seasons in their temporary home, the Vikings move back indoors to new U.S. Bank Stadium.
“It’s always going to be easier indoors,” he said. “I’m not going to lie to you and tell you it’s easier to kick at TCF than it is inside. It’s just you can take the elements out of it and focus on your form and your craft. You can forget about, ‘Hey, man, it’s minus-10 out today.’ You get to go in there and act like it’s a normal day outside.”