Your Fears About the Vikings Kicking Game Are Real

Dan Bailey
Dec 13, 2020; Tampa, Florida, USA; Minnesota Vikings kicker Dan Bailey (5) react after a missed field goal against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The cynicism by fans of Minnesota Vikings kickers is longstanding and well-deserved.

This season, the Vikings enter a make-or-break season with a relatively inexperienced kicker in Greg Joseph — and perhaps some competition via Riley Patterson, a rookie from the University of Memphis. Neither option is spellbinding, but it’s what Minnesota is choosing for 2021.

Vikings fans’ sneers for kickers date back 23 years. It was 1998, and Gary Anderson missed a field goal at the most inopportune time imaginable, further causing the downfall of an otherwise storybook season. From that moment on, an ominous gloom hovers over each field goal attempt — even when things are going fairly well.

Then, Blair Walsh scripted a rip-your-intestines-out missed field goal five years ago versus the Seattle Seahawks, disabling the Vikings from achieving Mike Zimmer’s first playoff win and a Divisional Round appearance [in Zimmer’s second campaign]. Although 17 years apart, those two events might as well have been within 24 hours of each other inside Vikings fans’ memories.

Those are the biggies seared forever in brains.

Several other missed kicks intensify the collective resentment. While various kickers provide stretches of apt performance — Blair Walsh, Kai Forbath, Dan Bailey — it’s always¬†on to the next one for Vikings kickers, especially as of late. The difference in 2021 is that the expectation for the Joseph-Patterson sandwich is low. We’re existing in the middle of “can it get any worse?” and “who the hell are these guys?” territory. Because the woeful kismet is so engrained, maybe this will be the season wounds begin to heal — or so the optimists say.

The Vikings are due.

The lesser-severe missed kicks are everywhere. In the last five seasons, the Vikings own an 80.9% field goal conversion rate, 26th-best in the NFL — or more appropriately named “seventh-worst.” Those are makes and misses from Walsh, Forbath, Daniel Carlson, and Bailey. If it feels like the Vikings fail to convert on a lot of field goals compared to other franchises, your fears are real.

Then, there’s a naughtier subject — extra points. During the Zimmer era, no other organization encounters more sorrow than the Vikings for extra points. Here are two stats that confirm the doldrums:

Minnesota is the worst in the business from a percentage standpoint — and the sheer volume of misses:

Therefore, your skepticism is vindicated. It does not aid the anxiety that opposing kickers seldom miss against the Vikings.

The Vikings miss more fields goals than most teams; those teams rarely miss versus the Vikings. What a gruesome special teams mess.

Solace is only achieved when setting the metric back decades. For example, in the Super Bowl era, the Vikings have converted 79.7% of field goals in the playoffs, which is the 10th-best percentage of all-time. Ineptitude in converting kicks wasn’t always on the menu for Minnesota, but the paranoia is perpetual amid the last 25 years.

Plus, every missed kick and every missed extra point generates eye rolls. Onlookers of the team watch every snap, every kick, every down. A failed kick rekindles the bad kind of nostalgia.