One worrisome miss serves as wart on Walsh's record day

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 30, 2013 - 8:30 AM

– Vikings kicker Blair Walsh set a team record in a 34-27 victory on Sunday night, but an uncharacteristic miss by him gave the Pittsburgh Steelers a chance for a final rally.

The Vikings led 34-24 when Walsh lined up for a 44-yard attempt with 6 minutes, 53 seconds left in the game. But he hooked it and his first miss of the season opened the door for the Steelers to take the game to the wire.

“I just pulled it a little bit,” Walsh said. “I was worried about pushing it down the right hash and instead overcompensated. It’s something I have to work on.”

Walsh made a 54-yard field goal on the opening drive to set a team record for most career 50-plus-yard field goals. He is now 12-for-12 on field goals of at least 50 yards. He had shared the record with Ryan Longwell, who made 11 from that distance in his six seasons with the team.

Walsh set an NFL single-season record with 10 field goals of 50-plus yards as a rookie. He said the key is to avoid trying to overkick on those situations.

“I got to remember most of my balls travel 50-plus yards no matter what,” he said. “I think any kicker would tell you that. If you go out there and try and hit it 54 yards, you’re not necessarily going to make it. You have to act like it’s something a little bit shorter and just be smooth and be routine.”

Smith upset by penalty

Vikings safety Harrison Smith chose his words carefully, but he clearly was upset he was called for unnecessary roughness when he hit tight end Heath Miller in the second quarter.

Miller caught a 28-yard pass and then lowered his head right before Smith collided with him. The officials ruled that Smith led with his helmet.

“I don’t really want to say too much because I don’t know where that will get me,” Smith said. “Heath Miller had a knee injury last year, right? And as a player, as a fan, I know that. I don’t want to hit him in the knee. I want to hit him in a good area. I try to keep my head out of it. I didn’t launch, and I don’t really know what else to do.”

Smith was fined $21,000 last season for his hit on Chargers receiver Mike Willie in the preseason. Smith seemed particularly upset with the call Sunday because Miller appeared to lower his head after the catch.

“That’s what I thought,” he said. “They told us even if they lowered their head, if you make contact with the helmet, that’s a fine. But that’s pretty unreasonable in my opinion.”

Bringing it out

Rookie Cordarrelle Patterson continues to show that he’s not afraid to bring out kickoffs placed deep in the end zone. Patterson caught two kickoffs 8 yards deep and brought both out.

For the game, he averaged 28.8 yards on five returns.

“I tell them, ‘Just block it up, I’m bringing it out no matter what,’ ” Patterson said. “I’m coming out 9 yards deep. Even if I have to jump out of bounds and get back in, I’m bringing it out.”

Patterson entered the game ranked second in the NFL in kickoff return average at 37.4 yards, trailing only Chicago’s Devin Hester at 38.3.

“I feel so comfortable back there,” he said. “I feel like that’s my main job. I know I’m a receiver, too. But kickoff return, I take that serious. It’s awesome.”

Rough for Robinson

Cornerback Josh Robinson had another shaky outing. He got beat on a 36-yard catch by Emmanuel Sanders in the first quarter. On that same drive, Robinson got sucked inside on a run and Miller blocked him, opening up the outside for Le’Veon Bell on an 8-yard touchdown run.

On Pittsburgh’s first possession of the second half, Robinson was called for a 48-yard pass interference penalty on a pass to Antonio Brown. That gave the Steelers the ball at the 1-yard line, setting up an easy touchdown run by Bell.

Robinson did collect a 4-yard tackle for loss on a catch by Brown in the fourth quarter.

Secondary shuffle

The Vikings were without two starters in the secondary, cornerback Chris Cook and safety Jamarca Sanford.

Marcus Sherels started in place of Cook, and Andrew Sendejo replaced Sanford.

Frazier has resisted moving rookie first-round pick Xavier Rhodes to right cornerback in Cook’s absence. Frazier prefers to keep Rhodes on the left side in the nickel package.

Sendejo rotated throughout the game with Mistral Raymond, who was active for the first time this season.

Etc.

• The Vikings finished without a turnover for the first time this season. They entered the game with 10 turnovers, second-most in the NFL.

• Chad Greenway’s third-quarter interception was the Vikings seventh this season. The team had only 10 interceptions all of last season.

• Sherels had a 68-yard punt return negated by an invalid fair catch signal penalty in the first quarter. Sherels’ return would have given the Vikings the ball at the Steelers 7-yard line. Instead, the Vikings started at their own 24.

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