Blair Walsh—in unfortunate and stomach-turning fashion—became the face of the NFL on Sunday after missing a 27-yard field goal attempt in the final seconds that would have advanced his Minnesota Vikings past the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC playoffs.
And with his trademark face of professionalism, Walsh met the media immediately after and took full responsibility for the NFC North champions' 10-9 loss.
“It’s my fault. I don’t care if you give me a watermelon hold, I should be able to put that through,” Walsh said, per Matt Vensel of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
In the fashion of finality that comes with a playoff loss, the play was repeatedly dissected, which revealed a poor hold by punter Jeff Locke that left the laces in, as shown by NFL Network:
NFL Network @nflnetwork
Laces out. #SEAvsMIN https://t.co/2LQH971nAH2016-1-10 21:04:57
Many current and former NFL players took to Twitter to defend Walsh in light of the hold, including former Pro Bowl kicker Jay Feely:
Jay Feely @jayfeely
He gave him straight laces again!!!!!2016-1-10 21:02:14
Yet Walsh reverted all blame to himself and said both Locke and snapper Kevin McDermott “did [their] job. … I just didn’t put a swing on it that would be acceptable to anybody’s standards."
Walsh was an All-Pro as a rookie in 2012, but struggled in the two seasons after to the point where his job security was in question. He missed 13 field goals from 2013-2014, but bounced back to lead the league with 34 connections this season.
Yet all of that seems erased after Sunday’s season-ending miss, per Vensel:
I worked real hard to get myself to a place where I was very, very consistent for this team all year. In that moment, the moment they needed me the most, I wasn’t. That stings. I will be working hard to erase that from my career but it will take a while.
I know I’m one of the better kickers in the league. I know that sounds kind of crazy right now. But my record says that. But the one they needed the most today I didn’t make. These guys deserved to win. … Those guys played their hearts out. They were the people who fought today.
As gut-wrenching as Sunday’s loss was, Walsh shouldn’t have been in that position.
The Vikings offense failed to reach the end zone, was 0-of-2 in red-zone attempts, 3-of-13 on third down and mustered a mere 183 yards of total offense. NFL rushing champ Adrian Peterson was a complete non-factor.
And this was a home game.
While the Vikings would’ve loved a shot at redemption against the Arizona Cardinals in the divisional round—they lost 23-20 in the final seconds of Week 14—they collectively put themselves in a position for a major mishap by placing every egg in Walsh’s basket.