Walsh sets NFL field goal recordPublished 1:40pm Monday, December 24, 2012
HOUSTON — When Vikings special teams coordinator Mike Priefer saw rookie kicker Blair Walsh warming up at Reliant Stadium on Sunday. He went to coach Leslie Frazier with a simple, if bold, opinion: The Vikings should be able to attempt a field goal whenever they crossed the 50-yard line.
So when Frazier sent Walsh out for a field goal with the ball on the Texans’ 38-yard line in the second quarter, he had little doubt about the kick. Never mind the fact that no one in franchise history had made a longer one.
“I felt pretty good when we had the chance to kick the 56-yarder, based on what he had done in pregame,” Frazier said.
The Vikings have every reason to feel that confident in Walsh, the 5-foot-9 kicker they took in the sixth round of the 2012 draft. He drilled the 56-yarder, setting an NFL record by making his ninth kick of more than 50 yards this season, and hit a pair of other field goals that helped run the Vikings’ lead from 7-3 to 16-3 on Sunday.
He is 32-for-35 this season, and he has yet to miss from more than 50 yards out. Walsh’s 56-yarder matched Paul Edinger’s 2005 field goal as the longest in franchise history.
“I honestly haven’t thought much about it,” Walsh said. “Once the game (got) going, I lapsed on what my season long or career long was. I knew it was in the 50s, but I was just trying to make them. We got a touchdown lead with that last field goal. These kicks today weren’t meaningless field goals.”
For a team that has struggled to finish drives at times this season, the rookie’s consistency has been vital. The Vikings are only tied for 18th in the league in red zone efficiency, and only three kickers had attempted more field goals this season than Walsh had before Sunday.
With a defense that allowed its fewest points of the season, the Vikings didn’t need touchdowns on every drive Sunday. They just needed Walsh to be as consistent as he’s been all year.
“We’re not out here to break individual records or have individual stats,” Walsh said. “We want to win games, and if the records happen, that’s awesome.”