By Mark Craig / Star Tribune (Minneapolis), Published December 17 2012
Vikings kicker Walsh shines
Blair Walsh was on his way to the showers Sunday when a member of the Minnesota Vikings public relations staff stopped by with a list of record-setting accomplishments the rookie kicker had just compiled in a 36-22 victory over the Rams.
The conversation took a while.
Walsh set team records for field goals of at least 50 yards in a game (three) and a season (eight). He also increased his team record for kickoff touchbacks by six to 47 in 14 games. And, oh yeah, with two games left in the season, his eight 50-yarders tied the league single-season record held by NFL all-time scoring leader Morten Andersen (1995) and Lions kicker Jason Hanson (2008).
“I didn’t know about the records,” Walsh said. “You’re so into the game. Just trying to do your best.”
Walsh was asked if he had ever made three
50-yarders in one game at any level.
“I’ve never had two in one game,” said the guy who broke the team single-game mark held by Fuad Reveiz (1991) and Hall of Famer Jan Stenerud (1984).
So, best game ever for you, Blair?
“I would say so, yeah,” he said.
On a day when everyone was praising Adrian Peterson’s season-high 212 yards rushing, Walsh got a little love from his teammates as well. And he deserved it, going 5-for-5 with field goals of 50, 38, 42, 53 and 51 yards and limiting the Rams to only two kickoff returns for an average of 14.5 yards and a long of 19.
“He’s been big for us all year,” Peterson said. “When he’s lining up and it’s 50-plus, it’s good.”
Besides kicking for a playoff contender, Walsh also got to show up fellow rookie Greg Zuerlein, whose strong leg has garnered him the nicknames “Greg the Leg” and “Legatron.”
Walsh was the last of three kickers drafted this year. Randy Bullock was taken 161st overall and ended up on Houston’s injured reserve before the season. Zuerlein, who went 0-for-1 with a miss from 57 yards on Sunday, was taken 171st overall while Walsh went 175th.
“It’s nice to come in here and show what I can do,” Walsh said. “He’s a good guy and a great kicker. He’s going to have a good career in this league.”
With a season-high five field goals, Walsh ended a streak of two missed field goals and is 29-for-32 on the season, a 90.6 percent mark that makes him a strong Pro Bowl and even All-Pro candidate. He is also 8-for-8 from 50 yards and beyond. The eight 50-yarders surpassed the team mark set by his predecessor, Ryan Longwell, who was 6-for-6 in 2008. Walsh’s 119 points is a Vikings rookie record.
Walsh continually bailed the Vikings out of jams Sunday. He made a 50-yarder when they put together a “drive” of minus-4 yards. He made a 42-yarder as time expired in the first half. His last field goal, from 51 yards, gave the Vikings a 14-point lead midway through the fourth quarter.
“He’s unbelievable,” quarterback Christian Ponder said. “We know that we cross that 40, we’re in field-goal range. He’s been clutch all year.”