Blair Walsh could have been the MVP of the Vikings’ wild-card playoff game against the Seahawks last January. In freezing cold weather, he hit field goals from 22, 43 and 47 yards to give the Vikings a 9-0 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
But all anyone could remember in the offseason was the one he missed, after the Vikings had blown that 9-0 lead to fall behind 10-9. Walsh had a 27-yard field-goal attempt go wide left with 22 seconds remaining.
Walsh says he is over that miss and is looking forward to erasing that memory with another great season.
“Today is sort of the last day I’m going to address it and talk about it,” he said at the Vikings’ organized team activity Wednesday at Winter Park. “There’s no need to keep bringing it up every time something happens. That’s the way I’m looking at it. I’m over it, I’ve moved on, feel like I’m a better kicker and a better person for the incident.
“Obviously, I wish it had never happened but it’s not going to define my career. I’ve made some big kicks in this league and will continue to make big kicks. That’s sort of the attitude I’m going to take going into this year.”
Walsh led all NFL kickers last season with 34 field goals made, and his six field goals from 50-plus yards were tied for second most in the league. That’s why his missed field goal against the Seahawks didn’t bother him in the offseason, he said, because he knows what he can accomplish as a kicker.
“No, no it doesn’t haunt me,” he said. “It’s one of those things where after you’re done with it, you move on. That’s why you’re a pro and you’re successful in this league, because you’re able to move on from things like that.
“I’ve missed kicks before in my career, but I’ve always bounced back and made the next one. That’s why I’m one of the best in the league, and I firmly believe that. And I firmly believe my career, when all is said and done, will state that as well.”
Walsh was asked if the missed kick was the worst thing that has happened to him in football.
“I think you hit on it right there,” he said. “It’s football, though. It’s tough that it happened, but it is the game of football. Life goes on. I would have liked to make the kick for our team and myself as well, but you know, I’m an important part of this team and I think our team members know that and I know that. I’m already prepared and ready for what we’re going to do this year.”
Will he be thinking about the kick this season?
“No, it’s in the past,” Walsh said.
He did say he watched the kick once after that game.
“I watched it probably two nights after it happened, just wanted to watch it and sort of get it out of the way, and I did,” he said.
Walsh’s career field-goal percentage is 85.2 over four seasons, making 121 of 142 kicks, which trails only Ryan Longwell, who made 86 percent of his kicks over six seasons, in franchise history.
Walsh said it’s part of a kicker’s life that people tend to remember the misses.
“You know what, it’s a part of the game,” he said. “You have to be prepared for it. You have to be prepared for the good times and the times when something like that happens. It’s something I’ll be able to move past, for sure.”
Walsh said he spent the offseason with friends and family, getting ready for this season, and leaving last year in the past.
“I live out in Southern California, so I went out there and spent time with family and friends and sort of regrouped a little bit, got my body strong again,” he said. “I’m in very good shape and feel like I’m hitting the ball as good as I ever have at this point. That’s what these OTAs are awesome for, you get those live reps again with the team. I’m ready for another big year.”
Twins slugger Miguel Sano has had a slow start to the season, hitting .221 while leading the American League with 67 strikeouts. But he went 1-for-3 Wednesday with a two-run homer and two runs scored to help the Twins finally beat Kansas City 7-5.
Sano said he simply got a pitch to hit, breaking an 0-for-14 slump at the plate.
“I try to hit it to the middle and make contact, and I do that mostly 100 percent of the time when I’m hitting [well],” he said. “[Wednesday] they threw me a changeup inside and a cutter in the middle and I hit a homer.”
Sano said that despite his early struggles, he’s staying positive.
“I’ve never been frustrated. I’ve been happy in the dugout, try to help my teammates,” he said. “If I don’t hit, I don’t get discouraged, shouting in the dugout. I’ve never been angry.”
• Rumors in Chicago are that the Gophers’ 2017 football game with Northwestern could be played at Wrigley Field.
• Brady Rudrud, who averaged 13.3 points for the Eden Prairie basketball team last year, has committed to the Gophers as a walk-on. Rudrud said he had three Division II offers, had talked to St. Thomas and visited with Columbia in the Ivy League. … The Gophers might have lost an outstanding power forward in 6-10 Nathan Reuvers out of Lakeville North, who committed to Wisconsin.
• Baseball coach John Anderson said the Gophers have 15 games booked at the Vikings’ new U.S. Bank Stadium starting in February of 2017, with North Dakota, Seattle University and North Dakota State. South Dakota State will play in March, followed by the return of the Dairy Queen Classic, which will bring in Oral Roberts, Hawaii and Iowa.
Then in 2018, the Classic will be an expanded tournament with a Big Ten/Pac-12 showcase with UCLA playing Michigan State, Washington facing Illinois and Minnesota going against Arizona all in the first round of a six-team tournament. In 2019, the tournament will be a Big Ten/ACC challenge.
• New Wild hockey coach Bruce Boudreau was asked what memories he has from his playing days for the Minnesota Fighting Saints. “There were great memories,” he said. “It wasn’t long but it was the first time. One of the things is it was the first time I had left home. I was born in Toronto, played my junior hockey in Toronto, and then came to Minnesota. It was the first time I was actually on my own. When you’re a young guy with a veteran team you learn an awful lot, and it was a lot about having fun with the Saints, but met some lifelong friends when I was there. We’ve reconnected since I’ve signed and it’s going to be great. I’m looking forward to it.”
Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. firstname.lastname@example.org