Blair Walsh’s miss did not impede the Vikings’ ability to win Monday night, but it did not solidify his standing with the organization.
After missing his third field goal attempt of the season against the Giants, Walsh will keep his position as the Vikings kicker unopposed — for now, said coach Mike Zimmer when asked Tuesday if the team had made plans to bring in other kickers for tryouts.
“No, not yet,” Zimmer said.
Since his 27-yard playoff miss that will live in Vikings infamy, Walsh has been off to a rocky start. His 46-yard miss wide left in the third quarter Monday night was the latest example. Walsh later was good from 44 yards, though his inaccuracies remained at the forefront. On the ensuing drive, Zimmer opted to punt instead of attempt a 56-yard field goal inside U.S. Bank Stadium, which would’ve tied Walsh’s career long.
Walsh has made six of eight extra-point attempts and eight of 11 field goal attempts this season, giving him a conversion rate (72.7 percent) that ranks 28th in the NFL through four weeks. So it’s been a gamble when the Vikings turn to their placekicker. While the reins are shortened, no heart-to-heart conversation will be had.
“I don’t talk to [linebacker] Eric Kendricks when he makes a bad play,” Zimmer said. “We correct it, and we move on. That’s what we do here.”
Sirles’ door open?
Once again, the Vikings turned to Jeremiah Sirles after another injury forced change along the offensive line.
Sirles played most of the game at right tackle after Andre Smith was knocked out because of an elbow injury only six snaps into the game. Zimmer said Monday he did not have an update on Smith’s injury. Smith said afterward he expects his elbow to be fine. In the meantime, Sirles could be an option to replace a struggling starter for an up-and-down line.
“Right now, we’re not planning on that,” Zimmer said. “But we’ll see how it goes.”
Left guard Alex Boone returned from a hip injury and started to show why the Vikings invested $10 million guaranteed in this free-agency signing. Boone was part of the turnaround effort by an offensive line that kept quarterback Sam Bradford clean and opened lanes for Jerick McKinnon’s 85 rushing yards, a season best from a Vikings running back.
“Fundamentally, [Boone] was very good,” Zimmer said. “He got on the guys. He was good in pass protection, physical in the run game. It was his best game he’s played since he’s been here.”
Dictating the terms
The Vikings pass rush set the terms despite not sacking Eli Manning, who aimed at getting the ball out as quickly as possible. So his longest pass to a wide receiver went only 14 yards as he was limited to a season-low 5.8 yards per attempt. The Vikings’ 15 sacks still ranks second in the NFL despite not adding to the total Monday night.
“There’s numerous ways you can affect the quarterback,” Zimmer said. “Whether it’s rush or coverage or disguise. I think people respect our pass rushers and probably a little bit of our blitz package as well.”
A rare sit
For perhaps the first time in Chad Greenway’s admirable 11-year career, the linebacker was a healthy spectator for almost all of the Vikings’ win. The Giants played three receivers for nearly the entire game, so the Vikings defense went with three cornerbacks for all but two plays. Greenway, who has subbed out on passing downs since the team drafted Kendricks last year, played only two snaps.
“Chad’s pretty smart. He knows kind of what the game plan is and things going into the game,” Zimmer said. “He’s a team guy. He just wants to win and when he gets opportunities, he’ll go in and play.”