Vikings tie Packers 29-29
by Patrick P. Marek
The Post currently has openings in our circulation department. Daniel Carlson applied. He is a strapping young lad with a great personality. I felt sorry for him, so we gave him a tryout. Unfortunately, he kept missing front steps, and most of the papers landed wide right into the bushes.
The next time you think you are having a bad day, just try to put yourself in the size 14 shoes of Daniel Carlson. The Vikings actually traded up to get him in the fifth round of this year’s draft. That made him the highest-picked kicker in the draft. For those of us who don’t think that draft choices should be squandered on kickers, this caused immediate scrutiny of Carlson’s talent and Rick Spielman’s judgement. Then he beat out veteran Kai Forbath in a thinly disguised sham of a kicking competition in training camp. Forbath drew the wrath of Vikings coaches and fans last year for missing extra points. However, he was money kicking field goals, especially from beyond 50 yards, including one that kept the Vikings in the playoff game with the Saints. If Forbath doesn’t hit from 53 yards, there would have been no Minnesota Miracle. Carlson actually kicked well in the early pre-season games … until he beat out Forbath for the kicker job. Then he quickly transformed into Blair Walsh’s taller brother.
Carlson endured Zimmer’s not so veiled threats (“Good kickers don’t miss two in a row”), and actually seemed to turn his game around. Best of all, he made all his extra points! Then came this week’s spotlight matchup with the Green Bay Packers on a sun-drenched Lambeau Field. The good news is that Carlson drilled all of his extra points. The rest of the story is a performance that was a Groundhog Day horror show for kicker-skittish Vikings fans.
Carlson lined up for a 49-yard field goal at the end of the first half. The kick was shanked so far right that the television cameras lost track of it. The miss gave the Packers the ball in great field position with just over a minute and a half remaining in the half. Mason Crosby kicked one of his five made field goals to put the Packers up 17-7.
There’s not enough space in this column to do justice to Laquon Treadwell’s stone hands or Kirk Cousins’ brilliance. Let’s just say that Cousins’ comeback brought back pleasant memories of “Two Minute” Tommy Kramer, and Treadwell’s ball repellance and questionable route running harkened back to Qadry “Lobster Hands” Ismail. Cousins threw for 425 yards and four touchdowns, and produced 22 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Vikings into an improbable overtime session against a very game (but grabby) Green Bay team. He joins Randall Cunningham as the only two Vikings’ quarterbacks to throw for over 400 yards against the Packers. Cousins accomplished this feat despite an atrocious tipped-ball interception late in the game that rocketed off Treadwell’s mitts to a delighted Packers’ defensive back.
You know how this story ends. The Vikings win the toss, and take the ball downfield for a very makeable 49-yard field goal. Miss! Wide right. Then with time expiring Cousins worked the offense down the 35-yard line … two yards longer than an extra point. Zimmer even instructed his quarterback to run a rushing play to the middle of the field to make things easier for his beleaguered kicker. Four seconds left … the snap is good, and the kick misses wide right. Once again, a Vikings’ kicker snatched defeat (well a tie anyway) from the jaws of victory.
Something has to be done, not only with the kicker, but with Minnesota’s woeful special teams. Special teams coach Mike “I survived making offensive homophobic smears” Priefer oversaw one of the worst special-teams performances in Vikings’ history, and that is an incredibly low bar. Daniel Carlson needs to be released or assigned to the practice squad. It’s for his own good, and for the emotional well-being of Coach Zimmer and the entire fanbase.
Former Dallas kicker Dan Bailey is the second-most accurate kicker in NFL history.
He sure would look good in purple.
Editor’s note: This column was indeed submitted and written prior to the announcement that Carlson was out and Bailey was selected.