GLENDALE, ARIZ. – Mike Zimmer was relaxing during a break in training camp when he was asked how nervous he was about having an inexperienced kicker given all the torment that position has caused him throughout his eight-season stint with the Vikings.
"Honestly, I've come to know that kickers are going to miss kicks," Zimmer said. "You know? Since I've been here, we've missed kicks. It's not new."
No, Mike. It's not.
The Vikings did more than enough to beat the Cardinals at State Farm Stadium on Sunday. Offensively, they were exceptional, and Kirk Cousins was even better than that. Defensively, they were good enough considering just how doggone near impossible it is to contain the playmaking machine that is Kyler Murray.
None of that matters. The Vikings are 0-2 because the kicker missed an extra point early and a short field goal at the very end.
Three years after then-rookie Daniel Carlson missed three field goals including a 35-yarder as time expired in a 29-29 tie at Lambeau Field, journeyman Greg Joseph missed wide right from 37 yards as time expired in a 34-33 loss.
Zimmer had time to get closer or maybe take a shot into the end zone but chose to let more than 30 seconds run off the clock before sending Joseph in to kick from four yards farther than his missed PAT.
"I felt good about that kick," Zimmer said. "I know he missed the extra point earlier kind of like that. But he's kicking good, we're indoors, it's the perfect surface. I'm thinking this should be an easy one here."
An easy game-winning kick? In Minnesota? Land of Seemingly 10,000 Missed Kicks from Gary Anderson to Blair Walsh to, well, you get the idea.
Three years ago, Carlson was waived the day after the Packers game. He went on to the Raiders and has become one of the league's more consistent kickers.
Zimmer won't reach that point with Joseph this soon. After all, Joseph did make a 53-yarder to send the Bengals game into overtime in Week 1 and hit two 52-yarders vs. the Cardinals.
"My thoughts on him are he just has to continue to work on trying to be more consistent," Zimmer said. "I don't think you make decisions on personnel right after a guy misses a kick."
Joseph's missed PAT went wide right with 8:56 left in the first half. The Vikings led 20-7, but the miss haunted them the rest of the day.
"I knew we'd have to go for two at some point," Zimmer said. "I thought it was too early when we scored" their last touchdown early in the third quarter.
Joseph wasn't made available to reporters after the game. Teammates defended him.
"That kick didn't lose us the game," receiver K.J. Osborn said. "There's a bunch of different plays throughout the game. He had a great kick last week in Cincinnati. It's a team. We love him. He's going to keep knocking them in for us. That's our guy."
Linebacker Nick Vigil said the same thing, pointing to the fact the Vikings' defense gave up 10 points in the closing minutes of the half.
A slippery Murray and a blown coverage resulted in a 77-yard touchdown pass to Rondale Moore with 1:33 left in the half. The Vikings answered with Joseph's first 52-yard field goal.
Then Zimmer erred in calling for a squib kick with 21 seconds left. Joseph is basically automatic on touchbacks.
"Just trying to run some time off the clock," Zimmer said.
Yeah, but the Cardinals have Matt Prater. The guy owns the longest field goal — 64 yards — in the 102-year history of the NFL. He has a record 60 made field goals of 50 yards or longer. His range is still 60-plus in Year 15.
The squib kick chipped five seconds off the clock, but cost the Vikings nine yards in field position as the Cardinals returned it to the 34-yard line.
Arizona ran two plays and lined Prater up for a 62-yarder, and he made it.
Of course, none of that would have mattered if Joseph hadn't missed. Then again, as Zimmer said, "It's not new." Not in Minnesota.