For the second straight day, a home playoff team has gone down in heartbreaking fashion.
Vikings coaches, players and fans were left to peer into the void after watching Blair Walsh miss a 27-yard field-goal attempt in the final seconds of Sunday's crushing 10-9 wild-card loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
Walsh's kick wasn't blocked or nicked or deflected. He just missed it, putting him in inglorious company with fellow franchise scapegoat Gary Anderson, who infamously botched a critical 38-yard kick against the Falcons in the 1998 NFC Championship Game.
Walsh's gaffe is especially harsh after he was set up to play hero, building an early 9-0 lead with kicks from 47, 43 and 22 yards through a biting cold.
His final attempt, though, saw the snap come in a tad high, with the laces facing in on punter Jeff Locke's hold. Former NFL kicker Jay Feely tweeted that lace direction "shouldn't" kill the kick from such a short distance, but acknowledged: "It impacts you physically and psychologically."
Locke also left the laces in on Walsh's previous 47-yarder, leaving Feely to say: "Even on a short (attempt) that can impact the kick," adding: "That is on Locke as much Walsh."
Blair Walsh took all blame for his missed kick, said repeatedly that he let team down. Walsh broke down crying as teammates consoled himâ chipscoggins (@chipscoggins) January 10, 2016
No words can console Walsh, his team or this endlessly battered fan base. The Vikings were fifth in Dan Hanzus' Pain Rankings for a reason, but after this latest disaster, they're only climbing that list of dread.