The Vikings' kicker is suddenly cold-blooded
On the heels of a Sunday night performance that saw him connect on a perfect 5-for-5 field goals, Blair Walsh has been named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week. The honor, announced on the team’s official website, marks Walsh’s fifth time winning the award and his first since the Vikings Nov. 24, 2013 game against the Green Bay Packers.
Walsh, who has been the focus of much scrutiny this season, turned in his strongest performance of the year against the Giants, contributing 19 points to the Vikings’ season-high total of 49. His scoring outburst jettisoned him into the top-five in scoring among kickers, giving him 127 points on the season. He finished the game with field goals from 32, 52, 22, 53 and 27 yards, as well as four converted extra points. On the season, he’s improved his accuracy percentage by 12 points since 2014, having connected on 32-of-37 field goals (86.5 percent) and 6-of-8 from 50-plus yards.
At kickoff, the temperature was 13 degrees Fahrenheit, making conditions less-than-ideal for Walsh and punter Jeff Locke. According to Sports Science, a football exposed to 10-degree weather for an hour loses five percent of its diameter and 10 percent of its air pressure, making it softer and harder to kick. In scientific terms, an ball exposed to extremely cold temperatures has a lower coefficient of restitution, meaning it comes off a kicker’s foot slower than a normally-inflated football.
Given the extreme temperatures and the mental pressure that comes with being an NFL placekicker, Walsh’s performance from Sunday night is even more impressive. If the Vikings are to travel to Lambeau Field and steal the NFC North division title from the Packers next week, he’ll need to continue his sudden streak of consistency. The temperature at kickoff is expected to be 15 degrees Fahrenheit; will Walsh have ice in his veins for a second straight week?