Page 2 of 2 Previous

Continued: Hartman: Vikings' gamble on rookie kicker Walsh pays off in season opener

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Last update: September 9, 2012 - 11:25 PM

Nothing against Ryan Longwell, who will go down as one of the greatest placekickers in NFL history. But as accurate and dependable as Longwell was during his long career in the NFL with the Packers and the Vikings, he wouldn't have had the leg strength to kick a 55-yard field goal like rookie Blair Walsh did Sunday to send the Vikings-Jaguars game into overtime, or to reach the end zone on nearly every kickoff as Walsh did in the game.

Longwell made 22 field goals of 50 yards or farther during his career. His longest was from 55 yards, and he did it only once, in 2007. But like Walsh's kick, it was a dramatic one -- it gave the Vikings a 34-31 victory over the Bears in Chicago as time expired.

And Longwell should know that it wasn't a snap decision to let him go after the Vikings signed Walsh, one of three college kickers drafted in 2012 and the big star of Sunday's 26-23 victory over Jacksonville.

According to Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman, the subject was discussed for some time before the final decision was reluctantly made to gamble on Walsh and let Longwell go.

Special teams coach Mike Priefer pushed hard to get Walsh, whom he had worked out at the NFL combine and more than once before the draft. Priefer -- who had coached outstanding kickers with the Giants, Chiefs and Broncos, where he coached one of the great kickers in Jason Elam -- was convinced Walsh could be something special in the NFL despite having a poor senior season at Georgia, going 21-for-35 on field goals after making 20 of 23 during his junior year.

Walsh said he had kicked only one field goal longer in college than his 55-yard kick Sunday, a 56-yarder against Coastal Carolina last year at Georgia. He did say that in high school at Cardinal Gibbons in Boca Raton, Fla., he kicked two field goals from 59 yards out.

But he said with the chance for the Vikings to either go into overtime if he converted at the end of regulation or lose if he failed, the situation was different then any other field-goal attempt in his career.

"I had a good feeling, and as soon as I saw the ball flight and realized it was going to be long enough and staying straight at that point, [I thought] it was going to make it, and it did," Walsh said.

With four seconds left on the clock, Walsh said nobody wanted to talk to him about the kick, but instead, "They just want you to go out there and do it."

Walsh praised snapper Cullen Loeffler and holder Chris Kluwe as "great guys, they had perfect execution on it."

In another recent interview, Walsh told me how confident he was in looking forward to his first NFL season.

"There's always pressure," he said. "At the next level, it's definitely a different type of pressure, but you have to look at having fun and going out there and doing what you have to do."

Walsh credited Priefer with correcting some flaws he had in his kicking style.

"We tweaked some stuff, slowed me down a little bit, and just cleaned up some of the fundamentals," Walsh said. "That's the goal right now -- kick it as long and high as possible."

Defense failed

Defensive end Jared Allen was really upset with the way the Vikings defense played overall, and especially how it allowed the Jaguars to score a go-ahead touchdown when they started their drive at their own 24-yard line with 1:18 left in the game and no timeouts remaining.

"I think the whole game was kind of rough. It was a sloppy day," Allen said. "We have to play a lot better. We gave up way too many yards.

"I thought we didn't play that great. We have a lot of stuff to clean up. We had a chance to win the game at the end, and we can't give up a touchdown with that little time [remaining]. ... From top to bottom we have to address that. We just have to play better."

Allen also was upset about being rotated constantly in and out on defense.

"I always want to be on the field," he said. "I'll take care of that."

Bad time of possession

A big cause for concern on defense, if you check the stats, is how the Jacksonville offense -- one of the worst in the league last season -- was able to dictate the time of possession the entire game.

In the first quarter they had the ball for 10 minutes, 38 seconds, while the Vikings had it for 4:22. In the second quarter, Jacksonville again had the edge, 8:38 to the Vikings' 6:22.

And while the defense played better in the second half, the time of possession remained one-sided, with Jacksonville having the ball for 8:19 in the third period compared to 6:41 for the Vikings, and 9:14 compared to 5:46 in the fourth.

Only in overtime did the Vikings have the time-of-possession advantage, having the ball for 3:54 compared to 1:00 for the Jaguars. For the game Jacksonville had the ball 37:49; the Vikings possessed it for 27:05.

Still, it's a good sign that despite that possession disadvantage, the Vikings offense was able to outgain the Jaguars offense 389-355.

Greenway agrees

Linebacker Chad Greenway agreed with Allen that the defense has to improve on its performance.

"The first half we were giving up some bad plays on third downs, just making little mistakes that hurt us," Greenway said. "In the second half, I think we just settled down and let it come to us."

He also said the defensive coaches didn't make a lot of changes at halftime to stop the effective Jaguars offense, which had 103 yards passing and 67 yards rushing in the first half.

"Schematically we were the same," Greenway said. "Just made some different calls. We didn't change a whole lot, just stayed who we were.

"It kind of felt like what had happened last year, to be honest with you, just losing at the end, losing the lead at the end. You kind of had that feeling that this is all going to happen all over again. But credit our offense and our kicker to come back and make that kick and give us a chance to win it."

But Greenway was confident the poor defense will improve.

"I think we'll be OK," he said. "We made some mistakes, but all in all, I think we're going to be all right."

It better be, because the Vikings will be facing a lot better offenses than the Jaguars offered on Sunday.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. shartman@startribune.com

  • related content

  • Minnesota Vikings place kicker Blair Walsh (3) kicked a 38 yard field...

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Kansas City - LP: B. Finnegan 4 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: Y. Petit 11
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
New Orleans 10/30/14 7:25 PM
Carolina
Buffalo 2 FINAL
San Jose 1
Boston 4 FINAL
Toronto 1
NY Rangers 1 FINAL
Montreal 3
New Jersey 3 FINAL(OT)
Ottawa 2
Dallas 5 FINAL
NY Islanders 7
Detroit 2 FINAL
Philadelphia 4
Chicago 2 FINAL
St. Louis 3
Pittsburgh 3 FINAL
Nashville 0
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL
Minnesota 7
Florida 1 FINAL(OT)
Arizona 2
Washington 3 FINAL
Calgary 1
So Florida 17 FINAL
Cincinnati 34
Troy 13 FINAL
South Alabama 27
BYU 30 FINAL
Boise State 55
(6) Oregon 59 FINAL
California 41
North Texas 21 FINAL
Rice 41
UAB 17 FINAL
Arkansas 45
Rutgers 24 FINAL
(16) Nebraska 42
Maryland 7 FINAL
Wisconsin 52
Texas 0 FINAL
(11) Kansas State 23
Minnesota 24 FINAL
Illinois 28
Memphis 48 FINAL
SMU 10
North Carolina 28 FINAL
Virginia 27
San Jose St 31 FINAL
Navy 41
Northern Ill 28 FINAL
Eastern Mich 17
(25) UCLA 40 FINAL
Colorado 37
Akron 21 FINAL
Ball State 35
Massachusetts 35 FINAL
Toledo 42
Ohio U 21 FINAL
Western Mich 42
Ga Southern 69 FINAL
Georgia State 31
Kent State 3 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 10
Oregon State 14 FINAL
Stanford 38
Fla Atlantic 16 FINAL
(23) Marshall 35
Louisiana Tech 31 FINAL
Southern Miss 20
(1) Miss State 45 FINAL
Kentucky 31
Georgia Tech 56 FINAL
Pittsburgh 28
(22) West Virginia 34 FINAL
Oklahoma State 10
Texas Tech 27 FINAL
(10) TCU 82
Michigan 11 FINAL
(8) Michigan State 35
Boston College 23 FINAL
Wake Forest 17
Central Mich 20 FINAL
Buffalo 14
Vanderbilt 14 FINAL
Missouri 24
Old Dominion 51 FINAL
Western Ky 66
UNLV 20 FINAL
Utah State 34
Temple 14 FINAL
UCF 34
(15) Arizona 59 FINAL
Washington St 37
Texas-El Paso 34 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 0
Wyoming 31 FINAL
Colorado State 45
Syracuse 6 FINAL
(21) Clemson 16
Texas State 22 FINAL
ULM 18
(3) Ole Miss 7 FINAL
(24) LSU 10
(4) Alabama 34 FINAL
Tennessee 20
So Carolina 35 FINAL
(5) Auburn 42
(13) Ohio State 31 FINAL
Penn State 24
(20) USC 21 4th Qtr 0:10
(19) Utah 17
(14) Arizona State 10 4th Qtr 13:09
Washington 7
Nevada 6 2nd Qtr 0:20
Hawaii 10
(2) Florida State 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Louisville
Troy 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Cincinnati 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Tulane
Tulsa 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Memphis
Purdue 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
(17) Oklahoma 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa State
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(22) West Virginia
Texas 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Texas Tech
Northwestern 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa
Maryland 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Penn State
Air Force 11/1/14 10:30 AM
Army
ULM 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Texas A&M
Duke 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Wisconsin 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
Rice 11/1/14 11:00 AM
FIU
(18) East Carolina 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Temple
UCF 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Connecticut
Boston College 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
North Carolina 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Miami-Florida
Washington 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Central Mich 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Western Mich 11/1/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Western Ky 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
NC State 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Syracuse
Texas State 11/1/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico St
Virginia 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech
BYU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Middle Tennessee
Indiana 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(9) Georgia
Georgia State 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Appalachian St
Kentucky 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Kansas 11/1/14 3:00 PM
(12) Baylor
Houston 11/1/14 3:00 PM
So Florida
(20) USC 11/1/14 3:30 PM
Washington St
Arkansas State 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
South Alabama 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Louisiana
New Mexico 11/1/14 4:30 PM
UNLV
UAB 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
(5) Auburn 11/1/14 6:00 PM
(3) Ole Miss
Arkansas 11/1/14 6:00 PM
(1) Miss State
Old Dominion 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Colorado State 11/1/14 6:00 PM
San Jose St
Stanford 11/1/14 6:30 PM
(6) Oregon
Tennessee 11/1/14 6:30 PM
So Carolina
Southern Miss 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
(7) Notre Dame 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Navy
Illinois 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(13) Ohio State
(15) Arizona 11/1/14 9:30 PM
(25) UCLA
California 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
San Diego St 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Wyoming 11/1/14 9:45 PM
Fresno State
(19) Utah 11/1/14 10:00 PM
(14) Arizona State
Utah State 11/1/14 10:00 PM
Hawaii
Los Angeles 0 FINAL
Seattle 2
D.C. 1 FINAL
Montreal 1
Toronto FC 0 FINAL
New England 1
Portland 2 FINAL
FC Dallas 0
Colorado 0 FINAL
Vancouver FC 1
Montreal 23 FINAL
Ottawa 17
Saskatchewan 27 FINAL
Calgary 40
Hamilton 24 FINAL
Toronto 26
Brt Columbia 28 FINAL
Winnipeg 23
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings do Sunday in Tampa Bay?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close