Blair Walsh missed a field goal yesterday. Maybe you heard.
What most people will not have heard was what came after the game. They should. The Vikings kicker's unsparingly honest and humble postgame interview is worth listening to; far more so than the groans, muttered expletives, and thin dismissals of Walsh that sounded throughout Twin Cities bars and living rooms Sunday evening.
Kicking in the kind of temperatures that turn footballs to frozen turkeys, Walsh made three field goals against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, netting from 22, 43, and 47 yards to put the Vikings up 9-0. Seattle finally found a little offense in the fourth quarter, scoring a touchdown and a field goal to take a 10-9 lead.
With 1:20 left, the Vikings regained possession and moved downfield quickly before sputtering inside the 20-yard line. With 26 seconds left and the game on his foot, Walsh lined up for a chip shot field goal to earn the Vikings a second-round game against the Carolina Panthers. He missed.
Facing the media after the game, Walsh, 26, had to find different ways of saying the same thing, over and over, about why his kick was off to the left.
"It's my fault," a watery eyed Walsh told reporters. "I want you guys here when I make the game-winning kick, and I realize I've got to have you guys here when I miss them. That's the life of a kicker."
The whole short, painful affair is available for viewing on the NFL's Youtube channel.
Walsh refused to let any blame rest with Jeff Locke, the Vikings punter and the holder on his kicks. Locke's hold had "laces in," a reference that will be familiar to anyone who remembers the miserable ex-kicker character from Ace Ventura.
Walsh also passed on the opportunity to point out that he'd led the NFL in field-goal percentage this year, and that the Vikings might not have been in this situation if he'd missed a few; nor did he ask why the offense couldn't put up points of its own.
He did none of this. He just sat there, glumly, and kept telling the sad truth.
"I'll be workin' hard to erase that from my career," he said. "But it'll take a while."
Of all the traits people value in professional athletes, few get less attention than grace in defeat. Maybe that's because it is so rare.
Blair Walsh went first. Your turn, Vikings fans.