The Seattle Seahawks have won two straight NFC championships on the back of a young superstar running back, an aggressive running game and the best secondary in football. If they take a third straight, they're going to have a heaping pile of luck to thank as well.
Minnesota Vikings kicker Blair Walsh missed a potential game-winning field goal from 27 yards out, giving the Seahawks a 10-9 victory in their Wild Card Round matchup. Walsh's kick came with 22 seconds remaining after Teddy Bridgewater led a six-play, 52-yard drive that put the Seahawks on the brink of elimination.
NFL Network captured an issue with the hold:
Former NFL kicker Jay Feely offered smart insight into the situation:
He gave him straight laces again!!!!!— Jay Feely (@jayfeely) January 10, 2016
Not just psychologically it impacts you physically That is on Locke as much Walsh— Jay Feely (@jayfeely) January 10, 2016
Draft analyst James Christensen seems to disagree with Feely's take:
Blaming the holder is absolutely wrong.— James Christensen (@NEPatriotsDraft) January 10, 2016
Vikings punter Jeff Locke, who was the holder on the play, apparently wasn't much of a fan of '90s cinema. Josh Rimer offered a friendly reminder of a movie he probably should watch:
Com'mon remember Ace Ventura??? Laces out Vikings!!! @JimCarrey— Josh Rimer (@JoshRimerHockey) January 10, 2016
Aaaaand more '90s references, this one coming from Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post:
After that kick Blair Walsh may be forced to leave Minneapolis and join his cousins Brenda and Brandon in the 90210.— Mike Vaccaro (@MikeVacc) January 10, 2016
Making the timing even worse? The fact that Walsh was near-automatic in these situations previously, as noted by ESPN Stats & Info:
Blair Walsh: now 15-16 on FG attempts when game-time temperature is 20 degrees or less after that miss— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 10, 2016
Adam Schefter of ESPN further elaborated how good kickers had been league-wide in similar situations:
Before Blair Walsh's missed, 27-yard game-winning FG attempt, kickers had been 189-of-191 (99.0%) on FGs of 27 yards or shorter this season.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 10, 2016
ESPN's Skip Bayless came equipped with all the pun game:
For Vikings fans, this turned into the Blair Witch Project.— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) January 10, 2016
Gregg Bell of the News Observer offered his take:
Un-freaking-believable. Richard Sherman is on the ground in shock. MIN misses a field goal that was shorter than an extra point. #Seahawks— Gregg Bell (@gbellseattle) January 10, 2016
Mike O'Malley of Golf Digest captured the mindset of most Vikings fans:
If you're a Vikings fan, how long does it take for vomit to freeze when it's 0 degrees?— Mike O'Malley (@GD_MikeO) January 10, 2016
With the benefit of Photoshop comes many memes. Many, many memes. Crying Jordan, Steve Harvey and a retired Blair Walsh jersey were among the highlights:
In my opinion, this is a nice gesture. pic.twitter.com/QvLqa9Et2v— Ken Jennings (@KenJennings) January 10, 2016
Someone had to do it pic.twitter.com/qjNODXVXI3— Steve Noah (@Steve_OS) January 10, 2016
Jerry Micco of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette highlighted the excitement of the Wild Card Round thus far:
The last 2 wild-card games have had wild endings? #Vikings fans froze all day and for what? A shank of historic proportions.— Jerry Micco (@PG_JerryMicco) January 10, 2016
The Seahawks also have a flair for the dramatic. Their Super Bowl loss to the New England Patriots ended in Russell Wilson's game-sealing interception, and now they're part of another thriller. Kevin Duffy of MassLive offered his take on Seattle's propensity for close calls:
If Seattle is playing a playoff game, it will end in the most dramatic way possible.— Kevin Duffy (@KevinRDuffy) January 10, 2016
No matter which way you slice it, the miss changes the trajectory of the entire NFC playoff picture. Instead of facing the winner of Green Bay-Washington, top-seeded Carolina is headed for another clash with the same Seahawks team that has had its number in recent seasons.
Meanwhile, the bustling Vikings have to go home with one of the more heartbreaking losses in franchise history—one that will echo Gary Anderson's famed miss in 1998 to some fans.