Why massive blame for brutal 2015 loss is undeserving for Blair Walsh

(Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) Blair Walsh
(Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) Blair Walsh /

Former Minnesota Vikings kicker Blair Walsh is unfairly handed the majority of the blame for his old team’s loss in the 2015 playoffs to the Seattle Seahawks.

Shockwaves were sent around what was formerly known as TCF Bank Stadium at the end of a 2015 playoff matchup between the Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks after former Vikings kicker Blair Walsh missed a go-ahead field goal from 27 yards away.

Following Minnesota’s heartbreaking loss, Walsh was met with a tremendous amount of blame from the team’s fan base. As the guy who missed the potential game-winning kick, Walsh was an easy target for blame.

But the amount he received wasn’t deserving of someone who was actually a big reason for the Vikings even having a chance to leave the field that day with a victory over the Seahawks.

Several others deserve more blame than Blair Walsh for Minnesota Vikings loss to Seattle Seahawks in 2015 playoffs

During the latest episode of “The Viking Age Podcast“, we looked back at Minnesota’s unfortunate loss to Seattle in the 2015 playoffs.

Most only think of Walsh‘s miss and assume that this play was the biggest reason why the Vikings lost to the Seahawks. But he might not even deserve the most blame for his missed kick.

Successful field-goal attempts are not just due to the kicker having good aim or a big leg. The long snapper and the holder also play significant roles in what it takes for a kick to pass through the uprights.

In this specific instance, the snap and the hold were less than ideal. Former Minnesota punter Jeff Locke was the holder for the infamous field-goal attempt against the Seahawks and he received the football with the laces facing back towards Walsh instead of facing the offensive line.

Instead of spinning the ball to ensure the laces pointed in the other direction, Locke just let them remain how they were when he received the ball, and then Walsh proceeded to miss the kick.

“Laces Out” is a phrase that was made famous in the film “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective”, but it’s a real thing that impacts both a kicker’s mental and physical ability to convert a field-goal attempt or an extra-point try.

In a 2016 interview with Colts.com, former NFL kicker Adam Vinatieri, one of the most clutch kickers in league history, shared how important the positioning of the laces is when it comes to making a kick or not.

"“Laces make a difference. Laces pointing away from my foot to the middle of the upright is perfect. The lean [of the football] is very important. The lean is probably the most important thing, and the laces are probably the next most important thing.If you hit the laces if they’re straight back, and your foot is going right through it, it’s like hitting a baseball not on the sweet spot or a tennis ball with a tennis racket just a couple inches off and it kind of gives you that rattle. It’s the same kind of feeling when you’re kicking a ball.”"

The Vikings finished with nine points in their 2015 playoff loss to Seattle, all courtesy of Walsh’s foot. Without their kicker making each of his first three field-goal attempts in the contest, Minnesota wouldn’t have even had a chance to get a win in the final seconds.

The Vikings’ offense also did next to nothing in this matchup, especially running back Adrian Peterson. Minnesota handed the ball off to Peterson 23 times against the Seahawks and he managed to gain a grand total of 45 rushing yards.

This is the guy who led the NFL in rushing in 2015 and he picked the playoffs to have one of the worst games of his football career.

The point is, there were plenty of Vikings players that deserved blame for not coming away with a win over Seattle in the 2015 playoffs. Walsh is deserving of some of that blame, but he shouldn’t be anywhere near the top of the list of players that deserve the most blame for Minnesota’s heartbreaking loss to the Seahawks.

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