Saturday, February 13, 2016

blair walsh

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The Vikings' kicker is suddenly cold-blooded

Image courtesy of Vikings.com

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.

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

What’s the difference between an 8-5 record and a 6-7 record? The simple answer would be two wins. Two games separate the Vikings, who are currently 8-5, from a pack of 6-7 teams “in the hunt” for the NFC’s sixth playoff spot. But two games also separate the Vikings from a familiar face — their 2014 counterparts.

At this time last year, the Vikings were 6-7 and eliminated from playoff contention. They’d go on to lose two of their final three games and finish the season at 7-9. Respectable, given the year-long absence of Adrian Peterson and the arrival of first-year coach Mike Zimmer, but not enough to push them into January. It was a season that, despite a losing record, inspired hope in the Minnesota fanbase and promised future success.

This season, the Vikings have built on what made them successful in 2014 and sit firmly entrenched in the NFC playoff picture. Two more wins through 13 games may not seem like a major leap, but these Vikings are a much improved team for a number of reasons. From the emergence of the defense to the return of Peterson, Minnesota has a chance to finish the year with 11 wins and play their first meaningful postseason football since 2012. Will they hit double digits in the win column, or will they flounder to end the season as they did last year?

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The HUGE Border Battle week is upon us as Mike Zimmer and the NFC North leading Minnesota Fightin’ Vikings (7-2) prepare to welcome in the loser of three-straight professional football contests Green Bay Packers (6-3). Di Murphy (@DiMurphyMN) of The Daily Norseman joins us for her weekly spot to talk about the Purple as we scheme on how to defeat the Green, Yellow and Blaze Orange.

Di and I chatted about what it’s like to have the #1 Defense in the NFL, how Adrian is back and on pace to win the rushing title (almost by default), why Kyle Rudolph should be benched forever, what Teddy and Norv need to do to get this passing game on fleek, and we play America’s newest favorite game What Pisses Di Off More?

All that and other “BEAT GREEN BAY” nonsense on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast!

An Andy Carlson Joint.

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Our Minnesota Fightin’ Vikings (7-2) are alone at the top of the NFC North. Breath. It. In, Vikings Fans.

The Purple secured our perch with a 30-14 (but really 34-14 if Kyle “18.5M GTD” Rudolph wasn’t a thing) road win over the upstart Oakland Raiders. The defense and running game paved the way for the fifth straight Vikings win and all the momentum as we roll back home to take on the Green Bay Packers next Sunday afternoon at The Bank. Damn it feels good to be a gangsta right now…

We Survived The Black Hole Talking Points Include
• Dat Zimmer Hellfire Defense is on Fire
• Adrian Peterson is Legit Again
• Teddy “WON” the First Teddy-Carr Bowl
• WTH ARE THE WIDE RECEIVERS?!
• Linval Joseph is #ELITE
• The Mandatory Kyle Rudolph Talking Point
• Harrison Brings the Boom
• The Raiders Offense is Going to be GOOD
• Replace TJ Clemmings with Austin Shepherd
• Replace Andrew Sendejo with Antone Exum Jr
• Cordarrelle Patterson’s Blind Squirrel Moment
• Blair Walsh is NOT a Concern
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All that and other “BRING ON THE PACKERS!!!” nonsense on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast!

An Andy Carlson Joint.

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

I’ve repeatedly called Mike Zimmer’s defense aggressive, his coaching style brash, but never has he crossed the line into “dirty” territory. That special place is reserved for coaches like Gregg Williams, whose ties to the Minnesota Vikings trace back to 2009, when his New Orleans Saints defense nearly crippled Brett Favre in the NFC Championship Game. It was later revealed that Williams was the architect of the team’s “Bountygate” scandal — a deliberate injure-for-money operation designed to motivate defensive players.

After his year-long suspension following the league’s investigation, Williams spoke on the scandal and his role in the matter. “One of the things was it was on my watch, but there was nothing that hasn’t been done in the last 50 years in the sport and there was nothing done to try to hurt somebody,” he said.

Zimmer would have to disagree, especially after yesterday’s chippy, playoff-like game that saw Rams players repeatedly target Teddy Bridgewater. The Vikings’ second-year quarterback was the victim of not one, but two questionable hits late in the game, with the final blow knocking him out for good. You’ve seen the play; Bridgewater scrambles and slides, but Rams safety LaMarcus Joyner launches himself into the quarterback’s head, briefly knocking Bridgewater out. It was clearly a dirty play, and one that left Zimmer furious at the podium:

“Well, we’re a disciplined football team, we do things right. That’s why we are the least penalized team in the league, because we play by the rules, we continue to play by the rules and just because other teams don’t do it doesn’t mean we’re going to do it.”

The game could have easily turned and become ugly after Bridgewater left for the locker room, but Zimmer supressed the fire to keep his team focused. They stuffed the Rams on the first overtime series and rode the legs of Adrian Peterson to a victory. For the second time in as many weeks, Blair Walsh kicked the game-winning field goal to move the Vikings to 6-2 and a share of the NFC North lead.

More than the play of Linval Joseph, Peterson, and Anthony Barr, it was the Vikings’ composure, discipline, and restraint that secured their fourth-straight victory. Despite the Rams’ best efforts to swing the game in their favor, Minnesota followed Mike Zimmer’s calm, collected script to yet another win.

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