MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - The Minnesota Vikings have released kicker Blair Walsh, the team confirmed Tuesday. The move comes after Walsh missed his fourth extra point attempt of the season in the Vikings’ 26-20 loss at Washington on Sunday – the team’s fourth consecutive loss after starting the season a league-best 5-0.
Kai Forbath will reportedly be signed as Walsh's replacement.
The Vikings worked out 6 kickers -- Forbath, Randy Bullock, Zach Hocker, Travis Coons, Aldrick Rosas and Marshall Koehn following the team’s Week 9 overtime loss to the Detroit Lions. In that game, Walsh missed an extra point, had a field goal blocked, and sent a kickoff out of bounds for a penalty.
After previously working out free agent kickers, the Vikings decided to stick with Walsh for at least one more week.
“We’ll always evaluate it, but there’s a lot of factors that decide a lot of things,” Zimmer said at a press conference. “We went back and looked at Mason Crosby, who I think is a really good kicker in this league. He had one year where he struggled and fought through it.”
Sports therapist Hans Skulstad says when a professional athlete’s performance gets off track, the feeling side of their brain takes over and their body responds emotionally to past mistakes instead of the task at hand.
“What’s going through their mind, whether it’s a conscious process or not, is 'don’t screw up.' That’s like don’t look at the chair. You look at the chair,” Skulstad said.
Skulstad says instead of trying to figure out what went wrong, Walsh needs to learn how to calm his emotions, so he can consistently play in the moment.
"What that boils down to is you know your skill, you know how to execute and you've done it in the past and you can do it now if you stick to the basic fundamentals,” Skulstad says.
Blair Walsh's Vikings career
The Vikings signed Walsh to a 4-year contract extension in July 2015, worth up to $14 million. A 6th round NFL Draft pick out of Georgia in 2012, Walsh had made 12 of 16 field goals this season and was 15 of 19 on extra points. Walsh made 133 of 158 (84.2 percent) of his field goals during his Vikings career with a career-long of 56 yards.
The infamous miss
Walsh's 27-yard field goal attempt in the 2015 playoffs sailed wide left with 22 seconds remaining, sending the Seattle Seahawks to the NFC Championship game with a 10-9 win. Walsh shouldered the blame for the loss, but was showered with notes of consolation and encouragement from former Vikings players and elementary school students.