Blair Walsh missed a kick that would have given the Vikings a victory over Seattle and a chance to play at Arizona next weekend in the NFC divisional playoffs, but he wasn’t their only player who was very emotional and in tears after the 10-9 loss.
Adrian Peterson blamed his fourth-quarter fumble for the loss. Seattle recovered it, and the turnover led to the Seahawks’ go-ahead field goal.
Peterson said the Vikings, without a doubt, would have won had he not fumbled. On second-and-5 from the Vikings 27, he caught Teddy Bridgewater’s pass and would have had a first down, but Seattle star safety Kam Chancellor ripped the ball away from Peterson’s right hand as the running back was getting tackled. Defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin recovered the ball for the Seahawks at the Vikings 40 after receiver Mike Wallace couldn’t come up with it.
“I got careless with it, scratching for yards,” Peterson said. “They made a good play and it cost us. It put us in a bad position.”
Asked if the Vikings would have won had he not fumbled, Peterson replied: “Without a doubt. I definitely take the blame, without a doubt. We almost had it. Just too many missed opportunities.”
Peterson described his emotions after the loss: “It’s been extremely tough, and just a hard one to swallow. It’s hard.”
Peterson credited the Seattle defense, which is No. 1 in the NFL against the run, for the fact that he carried the ball 23 times for only 45 yards.
“We knew it was going to be tough sledding and they came out and made it hard for us,” he said.
Did he consider this a successful season since he led the league in rushing and was named All-Pro?
“It wasn’t a success,” he said. “It wasn’t good enough. I will do better next year.”
Made many field goals
Walsh has made a lot of winning kicks in his young career, but he has missed some as well. In Sunday’s game, he made field goals of 22, 43 and 47 yards in cold weather, but with the game on the line he missed his 27-yarder wide left.
“I’ve been in this position before, unfortunately,” he said. “I’ve made a lot of game-winners in my career, but I’ve had a miss here and there from the game-winning standpoint, so this isn’t a new territory for me.
“I have been challenged throughout my career and nothing has been easy. I have to take this in stride. I’m still confident. If we played tomorrow, I’d be confident, but we’re not, and part of that is because of me.”
He was asked how long he would carry the sting of this loss.
“For me to be the elite-level kicker that I know I am and have proven to be, I can’t carry it for long,” he said. “I’ll take some time and reflect about it, but at the end of the day this has to be something where I move on from it. This team has a bright future ahead of them, and I’ll be doing my best to be a part of that like I have the last four years.”
Asked if he thought the temperature played a part in the kick, Walsh replied: “It’s just cold, the ball doesn’t matter. I mean, nothing was normal outside today but that doesn’t matter.
“It’s 27 yards, and you have to make that kick at the end of the game. We’d made the three previous ones.”
Snap was off
Long snapper Kevin McDermott blamed himself for the snap that resulted in Walsh missing the winning field goal.
“The laces were back. I would say it was definitely something I could have done better to present it to [holder] Jeff [Locke] to present it to Blair,” McDermott said. “It’s one of those things that no matter how cold it is or what the wind is doing, my job is to snap it to Jeff and have him catch it with the laces pointing towards the field-goal post.
“When he caught it, they were pointing towards Blair. Those are minute details that the fan in the stands may not see, but that’s something we work on every day to make sure we get right, and on that particular kick that is not what happened.”
McDermott said he wasn’t pressured much by the Seattle special teams on the snap.
“Not so much, they are more of an edge-rush team,” McDermott said. “But to Blair’s credit and to the guys who are on the edge earlier in the game, they were doing a fantastic job of keeping those rushers at bay.”
Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman nearly blocked Walsh’s last successful field goal, but the ball eluded Sherman’s hand and split the uprights.
Big Seattle play
With the Vikings up 9-0 and Seattle at the Vikings 39 in the fourth quarter, Russell Wilson made what might have been the biggest play of the game. A bad snap sent the ball over his shoulder, sending him about 15 yards behind the line of scrimmage. But Wilson picked up the ball on one knee, eluded the Vikings defense trying to sack him and found Tyler Lockett open for a 35-yard gain that gave Seattle first-and-goal at the 4.
Two plays later, Wilson found Doug Baldwin for a 3-yard touchdown pass to make it 9-7 with 11:37 to play.
Seattle coach Pete Carroll was asked about the playmaking of his star QB. “We’ve seen so often just the magic that comes out of him sometimes,” Carroll said. “He had a number of plays today where he was in trouble and he got away and did some good things. We almost made some big plays and we didn’t. But that was one that we capitalized on.
“It’s a rare play, but he does stuff like that and we kind of have come to count on it, and it’s been a factor for us. Just in that little sequence of the football drive, there’s some real magic in there.”
The Vikings did a much better job defending Wilson in this game than they did in their 38-7 loss last month, when he completed 21 of 27 passes for 274 yards and three touchdowns for a rating of 146.0 and also rushed nine times for 51 yards and a score.
Sunday, the Vikings held Wilson to 13-for-26 passing for 142 yards, one touchdown, one interception and a rating of 63.3. But he still made the one big play when it mattered.
Sunday’s loss brought back memories of the team’s 2009 NFC Championship Game loss at New Orleans, when turnovers and missed opportunities cost the Vikings their most recent chance to go back to the Super Bowl.
Six years ago, the Vikings never got a chance to kick what could have been the winning field goal because of a late interception by Brett Favre that gave the Saints the ball with the score tied 28-28.
The Saints then won the overtime coin toss and marched to a winning field goal — after that game, the NFL changed the rules no team could kick a winning OT field goal without the other team getting possession.
Sunday, like in 2009, the Vikings fumbled in a crucial situation. And this time, they had their chance at the winning kick, but they missed it.
Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. firstname.lastname@example.org