A New Viking Hero Emerges

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Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings have a few star players on their roster. Justin Jefferson is potentially the best player in the league. At the very least, he’s currently the most dominant right now. The wideout is on pace to break the single-season receiving record in NFL history and could be the first player with 2,000 receiving yards in a season.

He’s undoubtedly the face of the franchise and one of the most popular players in the game. His 133 receiving yards and a touchdown helped the Vikings to beat the New York Giants on Christmas Eve. A different Viking, however, became the hero in the victory.

Greg Joseph

a new viking hero
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings kicker drilled a game-winner in overtime of last week’s historic game. Exactly one week later, he hit another incredible kick to finish the contest. The incredible part is that he hit it from 61 yards out, by far the longest in Vikings franchise history. Previously, the record was at 56 yards.

Joseph was a hot topic in training camp when new reports emerged daily about Joseph ending the practice with a made kick from 60 or more yards out. After years of struggles, he was viewed as the answer at the kicker position. But then fans lost their patience a few weeks into the season and wanted him gone.

A New Viking Hero Emerges

What sounds harsh becomes fair criticism after looking at the numbers. Joseph was dead last in the league in extra point percentage and field goal percentage. All of his field-goal misses came from over 50 yards. Nowadays, kickers are expected to hit kicks from that distance. Throughout the season, Joseph has missed five kicks, all from 50 or more yards.

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In addition, he missed five extra points, something that only costs one point but is extremely frustrating and can ultimately cost the team games. Throughout the last four games, Joseph hit all six field goal attempts, including back-to-back walk-off game-winners. He added 12 extra points, hitting all of his 18 kicks.

Joseph can now safely be viewed as a clutch kicker. Based on their history, it’s unlikely that Vikings fans will ever be calm when a kicker steps up to kick a field goal late in the game, but Joseph has earned some trust. He’s looking to keep his hot streak up in the final two regular season games, followed by the postseason afterward.

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The special teams unit has been an excellent one. Kick returner Kene Nwangwu returned a kick in a high-leverage situation against the Patriots, while long snapper Andrew DePaola is going to his first Pro Bowl. Rookie punter Ryan Wright is one of the best in the business, and his acquisition has been a fantastic move by general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah.

The emergence of Joseph will give the Vikings even more confidence to win close games. They have won all 11 one-score games in the 2022 campaign, the most in a single season in NFL history.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt