The story of tonight’s 20-12 win over the Raiders, beyond the wind and the rain and the lighting and delays at TCF Bank Stadium, was the performance of Blair Walsh, who missed three field goals and an extra point.
Walsh missed a 35-yard field goal wide right on the second possession of the game. After the Vikings scored their first touchdown, he missed an extra point, now from 33 yards, wide right. In the fourth quarter, he missed a field goal wide left from 38 yards and another from 49 to the right.
The kicker is now 2-for-6 on field-goal attempts in the preseason.
After the game, Mike Zimmer was asked if the weather was to blame.
“I don’t know. You’ll have to ask him,” the head coach said.
But is Zimmer concerned about Walsh as his struggles continue?
“Yeah,” Zimmer said. “A lot of things concern me. Not just that.”
Meanwhile, in the locker room, Walsh took ownership of his misses.
“Didn’t feel real good with how I hit the ball. Obviously the results are bad. I have to do better. Preseason or regular season, that can’t happen,” he said.
Walsh said the wind “switched around a lot” during the game and the night was “consistently windy.” But he did not use that as an excuse.
He said he was especially frustrated because he feels he has been kicking the ball well in camp, which from my perspective is a fair assessment.
But Walsh’s issues outdoors are a continuation of a trend from last season, when he was the NFL’s least-accurate field-goal kicker.
Despite that the Vikings stood by him, bringing in no competition and also rewarding him with a four-year, $14 million extension.
Walsh acknowledged that there was a snowball effect when it came to his misses tonight, and he knows he has to finish the preseason strong.
“It’s what I’ve been doing the last three years. You miss, you got to look at your next kick as the only kick you have left,” the 25-year-old said. “Take each kick one at a time. I know that sounds cliche, but that’s what keeps you in the league and that’s what keeps you around.”