Blair Walsh had missed just one of his 33 career kicks inside of 30 yards. He had never missed a playoff field goal attempt.
So when the 26-year-old former All-Pro prepared to knock the Seahawks out of the playoffs in 2016, there was little reason for Vikings fans to think their kicker would make a mistake.
Walsh didn’t come close to hitting his 27-yard field goal attempt with 26 seconds remaining. Minnesota lost, 10-9.
“It’s my fault,” Walsh told reporters after the game. “I’m the only one who didn’t do my job here.”
The Vikings were without a playoff win in seven years, so Walsh’s flub hit especially hard. Minnesota would never again get a star-level season from Adrian Peterson, and the team remains in search of a satisfactory franchise quarterback after Teddy Bridgewater’s promising development was abruptly halted the next fall by a gruesome knee injury.
But it’s difficult to blame Walsh entirely for the NFC wild-card round defeat. Walsh connected on field goals of 47, 43 and 22 yards earlier in the contest despite winter conditions at TCF Bank Stadium not being conducive to pinpoint kicking. Minnesota’s offense, led by Peterson, did not play well enough. Peterson rushed 23 times for 45 yards with a lost fumble. Bridgewater did not reach 200 yards through the air.
People remember the miss and little else from that game. They never let Walsh escape it.
“It won’t define me,” said Walsh a couple of months after shanking his field goal attempt, not realizing his fate.
Walsh lasted just two more years as an NFL starter, not appearing in an NFL regular season game after 2017.
Here’s a breakdown of Walsh’s career before and after his infamous postseason fail.
What happened to Blair Walsh?
Walsh stopped connecting on his kicks as he had for most of his first four NFL campaigns, and the Vikings cut him on Nov. 16, 2016, after he missed his fourth extra-point attempts in nine games.
The Seahawks signed Walsh for the 2017 season, but he didn’t play well enough to earn another contract, making 21 of 29 field goal attempts.
Did Blair Walsh officially retire from the NFL?
No, but Walsh’s last major chance to win a starting NFL job might have passed in 2019. The Falcons signed him in hopes he could fill their kicking void but cut him a week later, choosing Matt Bryant as their starter. Bryant was replaced by Younghoe Koo in the middle of the campaign.
Walsh managed headlines in his brief Atlanta stint because he missed four open practice field goal attempts, including one that looked just as bad as his playoff error.
What teams did Blair Walsh play for?
Walsh played for the Vikings and Seahawks in his NFL career.
Where did Blair Walsh go to college?
Walsh attended Georgia, where he started as a freshman and went on to nail 76 field goals in four years.
His play for the Bulldogs was inconsistent. He made 65.2 percent of his field goals in his first college season, more than 87 percent in each of his next two years and just 60 percent as a senior. Perhaps that propensity for inexplicable drop-offs should have been recognized as a sign of things to come.
Was Blair Walsh drafted?
Yes, the Vikings selected Walsh in the sixth round of the 2012 NFL Draft. He was the third kicker off the board, with Randy Bullock and Greg Zuerlein picked before him.
Blair Walsh career kicking stats with Vikings, Seahawks
Walsh earned first-team All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors as a rookie with the Vikings. He made more than 90 percent of his kicks that year, a mark he would never reach again.
Still, the Georgia alum kicked well in 2013 and 2015 and appeared set for a long NFL career before his NFC wild card round miss.
Here are Walsh’s year-by-year kicking stats:
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