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Through the years: Vikings kickers

It’s not that Vikings kickers are bad, it’s just some weren’t clutch

Anderson kicks a field goal Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Minnesota had a couple of bad breaks throughout the passed couple of decades when it comes to wide-left missed field goals, but overall the Vikings have had solid kickers who knew how to get the job done.

Let’s take a dive into the Vikings time capsule and start in 1998. More specifically, the 1998 NFC Championship game against the Atlanta Falcons. Why not bring up bad memories?

For those who don’t know, kicker Gary Anderson was perfect all season heading into that matchup against the Falcons. He went 35 of 35 and his longest coming from 53 yards. He was three of three in the playoffs before he missed the 39-yard field goal that could have potentially put a stamp on Minnesota going to the Super Bowl.

That was the only time in his career where he made every field goal in the regular-season. Anderson played with Minnesota until the 2002 season. He played in 78 regular-season games and for the most part had a pretty successful boot. He nailed 109 of 129 field goals while with the Vikings, that’s a 84.5 percent success rate. That’s not bad at all.

According to Athlon Sports, Anderson is considered the sixth greatest kicker in Super Bowl era history. The man played for 25 seasons and despite what happened in that championship game, he was still a respectable kicker from a statistical standpoint.

After Anderson’s departure from the team there were seven different kickers (including Doug Brien who replaced Anderson in the 2002 season for six games before Minnesota called back Anderson). Five of them had a success rate of at least 80 percent.

It’s fair to say that an 80 percent field goal success rate is quite respectable, at least in my eyes. Since we’re on the topic of botched field goals, let’s get Blair Walsh out of the way, shall we?

A classic playoff matchup against the Seattle Seahawks and a field goal was all that was needed for the Vikings to advance to the next round. Oh, did I mention it was a 27-yard field goal? No? Well, it was. Walsh did the same thing Anderson did, wide left.

Walsh, who had an amazing sophomore and junior season at the University of Georgia, where he hit a near 90 percent both years showed inconsistency when he had a lackluster freshman and senior season.

He showed the same type of behavior with the Vikings, except it was a little backwards. He had an outstanding rookie season, he kicked 35 of 38 field goals, while going 10 of 10 from beyond 50 yards. At that time it seemed like Walsh was the perfect replacement for veteran kicker Ryan Longwell.

During his second year it seemed like Walsh would be the guy, he kicked 26 of 30 field goals (86.7%). His third season is where he started to show his inconsistencies, he kicked 26 of 35 (74%). He bounced back in his fourth year, but then had another rough season the following year. In his five seasons with Minnesota he had a field goal percentage of 84.2, where he kicked 133 of 158.

Honestly, Longwell was probably the most consistent kicker the Vikings have had since 1998. Anytime he would go out and kick I had complete confidence in him to make that kick. It was the same way I felt about Walsh when he was first in the league. The difference between the two is Longwell had consistency and Walsh didn’t.

Although Longwell played with Green Bay for nine seasons and is a member of the Packer Hall of Fame, he still came to Minnesota and kicked ass for six seasons. In his 96 games, he hit 135 of 154 field goals (86%). Unlike Anderson and Walsh, Longwell never really had that big time blown missed kick.

Once Walsh became a bust and just crushed whatever hopes the Vikings had to continue in the playoffs, his struggles continued into the following season. That’s when Walsh was cut and good ole Kai Forbath took his spot.

I got to say, Forbath was a trusty kicker, was he not? In 2016, in the seven games he played for the Vikings he hit 15 of 15 field goals. Despite his success with field goals, he managed to miss three extra points, which resulted in 78.6 percent.

In the 23 games that Forbath participated in for Minnesota, he only missed six field goals. He went 47 of 53 with field goals and 45 of 53 with extra points.

Let’s not forget about Hall of Fame kicker Morten Andersen. He played one season with Minnesota back in 2004. According to Athlon Sports, he is the second greatest kicker in Super Bowl era history. He nailed 18 of 22 field goals (81.8%).

The two outliers who performed under 80 percent were Aaron Elling and Paul Edinger. Elling played 23 games with the the Vikings from 2003-2004, he only had a field goal percentage of 72 percent, he hit 18 of 25.

Edinger played one season in 2005 and kicked 25 of 34 field goals (73.5%). He’s known for his 56-yard game winning field goal against the Packers (someone actually hit a clutch kick).

The reason Vikings fans may be so critical of kickers is because we are used to having successful kickers rather than bad ones and when one does miss a big field goal we are even more disappointed. We’re not even mad, just disappointed. Like a parent scolding their kid.

Ease up on Daniel Carlson, he’ll come around… I hope.