Blair Walsh's missed chip-shot field goal cost the Minnesota Vikings a playoff victory over the Seattle Seahawks. The miss was so devastating, even first-grade students felt bad for the kicker.
Last week during the NFL Annual Meeting, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer brushed aside any thought that the missed 27-yard field goal would stick with Walsh.
"I pretty much move on, but I'm going to try to make sure that he has success as much as possible," Zimmer said, via ESPN.com. "You're always only as good as your last kick, right? So we want to make sure that a lot of his kicks are good kicks now. We're not going to start him out at a 60-yarder on the first day of (organized team activities). I don't know that I need to build his confidence, but I'm going to make sure I don't need to build his confidence."
Zimmer might not be worried about Walsh getting the yips, but let's allow history to be our guide.
Below are several of the most devastating missed playoff field goals of the past several decades (no, Mr. Internet Commenter, this is not an exhaustive list). You'll notice that Walsh already has a leg up on many, as the Vikings didn't jettison him into the ether after the miss.
Cundiff yanked a potential game-tying 32-yard field goal a mile left, after the Ravens missed chances to bury the Pats. It was Cundiff's final attempt for Baltimore. Cundiff spent five games the following year with the Redskins in which he made just 58.3 percent of his field goals. He earned two solid seasons with the woeful Cleveland Browns. In 2015, he participated as a kickoff specialist in one game for the Buffalo Bills. He's currently a free agent.
Akers, a Pro Bowler in 2010, missed two kicks -- 41 yards in the first quarter and 34 yards in the fourth. The Eagles lost by five points. Those were his final kicks as an Eagle after 12 seasons in Philadelphia. Akers' accuracy didn't dive the next season in San Francisco, as he hit 84.6 percent of his attempts -- better than his career average of 80.9. He also went 3 of 3 in the Super Bowl XLVII loss. Akers ended his career after the 2013 season.
Kaeding entered the playoff tilt against the heavy underdog Jets as one of the most accurate kickers in NFL history and posted a 91.4 percent conversion rate in the 2009 season. Then he couldn't find the range, missing on attempts of 36, 57, and 40 yards. The Chargers lost by three points. After the playoff disaster, Kaeding's career nosedived. In 2010 he posted the worst field-goal percentage outside of his rookie season. In 2011 he tore his ACL on the first kickoff of the season. In 2012 he injured his groin after three games, was released by the Chargers, signed with the Dolphins in December and proceeded to miss two of his three field-goal attempts. He retired in 2013.
The man Peyton Manning once referred to as an "idiot kicker who got all liquored up and ran his mouth off" took Jerome Bettis off the hook as one of the greatest goats in playoff history. After a goal-line fumble by Bettis looked to give the Colts a chance to tie the game, Vanderjagt -- currently the top retired kicker in terms of accuracy in NFL history -- pushed a 46-yard attempt. The Colts moved on from Vanderjagt in 2006. He signed with the Dallas Cowboys, played 10 games, authoring the least accurate season of his entire NFL career (72.2) and was out of the league the following year.
Brien had not one, but TWO misses in the final two minutes of the game that could have won the contest -- smash cut to Jets fans breaking things. The Jets lost in overtime. Brien was cut several months after the misses. The career 80.2 percent kicker latched on with the Bears in 2005, but lasted just three games before being released, ending his 12-year pro career.
The boot Vikings fans still kick themselves about. Anderson hadn't missed all season. The Vikes were the clear favorite to win the Super Bowl. A 38-yarder to put the game out of reach. Wide left. Falcons win in overtime. Woof. Perhaps the good news for Walsh is that the Vikings stuck with Anderson until 2002. The kicker eventually bounced back, but not until struggling mightily in the immediate aftermath of the miss. Anderson went 19 of 30 in 1999, for a career-low 63.3 percent.
You knew we'd get here eventually. "Wide right." The Bills' first Super Bowl loss of the worst foursome in sports history. Norwood pushed a 47-yarder right with eight seconds to play. Buffalo lost 20-19. Norwood stuck with the Bills the following season, posting a career low 62.1 percent (he finished with a career percentage of just 72.3 and spent four of his seven seasons in the 60-70 percent range). He was perfect in the playoffs that season, going 5 of 5. Norwood was waived in 1992 and never caught another NFL gig.