Nobody wanted to be in Blair Walsh's shoes Monday morning. As the clock wound down on the NFC Wild Card playoff game between the Vikings and Seahawks, the Minnesota kicker made one of the most miserable, unenviable errors in professional sports.
Here's the scenario: Seattle is leading 10-9 late in the fourth quarter, but Teddy Bridgewater and the Vikings offense have managed to truck their way downfield. The game clock is ticking down. Seattle is running out of timeouts. Minnesota places themselves well within field goal range, and are poised to send Russel Wilson and the Seahawks packing. It's fourth down, and Minnesota freezes the game clock with only 26 seconds left. Walsh warms up, and the field goal unit heads onto the field for an all-but-routine 27-yard attempt.
The holder gets the snap, and Walsh sees laces in front of him—technically and psychologically, it's an 'uh-oh' moment for the holder and his kicker.
Walsh shanks it. Seattle advances to the NFC divisional round, and Minnesota is done for the year.
Walsh was devastated after the game. You can't help but feel awful for him. Nobody wants to be in that situation ever—even kickers, who trade on clutch performances. On the other hand, Blair Walsh was the only Viking who scored any points against the Seahawks, which highlights the shortcomings of the Vikings' offense yesterday. It's a simple lesson that goes to show that games are always a team effort, and victory or defeat is never determined by the performance of one individual.
As you’d expect, Blair Walsh has been on the receiving end of plenty of harsh comments on social media. But plenty of others have offered him support—including some special little fans from Northpoint Elementary in Illinois.
— NFL (@NFL) January 14, 2016
After seeing these heartwarming drawings, Walsh made a personal visit to see the awesome first-graders who drew them.
— Rob Olson (@RobOlsonFOX9) January 14, 2016
Keep your head up, Blair Walsh.