Kai Forbath’s busy day began before attempting the first of his career-high six field goals Sunday for the Vikings’ 24-16 win over the Ravens.
Only a couple minutes into the game, Vikings specialists were hastily setting up the field goal net on the sideline so Forbath could get loose. Marcus Sherels had returned the opening punt 46 yards to the Ravens’ 36-yard line, which meant Forbath could be called on any minute.
A Case Keenum interception squashed that, but by day’s end Forbath had kicked himself tired as the Vikings ended eight of 10 drives in Ravens territory.
Forbath made field goals from 52, 51, 43, 43, 34 and 32 yards.
“Every time we’re in scoring position, we’re just kicking and kicking,” Forbath said. “Luckily our punt return also helped us get into good field goal position today. I was staying busy on the sideline.”
Led by Forbath, the Vikings special teams turned up big when needed most. In the week leading up to the game, coach Mike Zimmer said he “challenged” his specialists to produce against the Ravens, whom Zimmer surmised would be the Vikings’ toughest special teams foe this season.
Vikings coverage teams pinned the Ravens’ averaging starting field position to their own 25-yard line, no better than a touchback. Punter Ryan Quigley made his two punts unreturnable. Sherels, who also transitioned to kick returner, had punt returns of 18, 19 and 46 yards.
And Forbath, who did miss an extra point, was perfect on six field goal attempts.
“He’s made some great kicks,” Zimmer said. “He’s right on the edge of where he needs to be. I think it’s good where our offense understands where they have to be to get the field goal if we’re not going to get the third downs.”
“On the edge” is where Forbath lives these days. The veteran has made enough kicks to build confidence with the coaching staff. In the last two games, he has been called upon for three attempts from 50-plus yards. He’s made all three.
But an enigmatic trend follows Forbath on extra points. He’s missed three of his 14 attempts this season, including his lone attempt on Sunday against the Ravens.
“Nothing I’m worried about,” Forbath said.
Tight end Kyle Rudolph’s concern also lies elsewhere. Forbath’s consistency on deep field goals boosts the Vikings huddle once they reach a certain point on the field, but Rudolph wants the Vikings to get more from their possessions.
“When we know all we need to do is get the ball to the 35 and we’re going to get three points, it’s great,” Rudolph said. “It’s awesome he made six field goals, but it’d be a lot better if he’s making six extra points.”