The Vikings Have a Stain That Needs Removal

The Vikings Have a Statistical Stain That Needs Removal

The occurrence has been called a “curse,” and if the last eight years are a reasonable indicator, the curse is real.

In the last eight seasons, the Minnesota Vikings kicking — both field goals and extra points — has floundered mightily. While some stretches experienced an upturn, Minnesota’s kicking, for and against, is frightful.

One might think the Vikings kicking woes are limited to the team’s kicker encountering troubles. Nope. It’s the opposition that excels versus the Vikings, too.

The Vikings have a bad two-way street for field-goal kicking and extra-point conversion. The franchise scrapes the bottom of the NFL for converting both types of kicks — and allows teams to convert against them with ease.

These are the numbers:

Here are some simple statements of fact about the kicking doldrums amid the last eight seasons.

  • The Vikings are the NFL’s sixth-worst field-goal kicking team.
  • The Vikings are the NFL’s second-worst extra-point kicking team.
  • Opposing teams convert field goals and extra points at a higher clip against the Vikings than any other team in the league.
Dan Bailey
Dec 13, 2020; Tampa, Florida, USA; Minnesota Vikings kicker Dan Bailey. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports.

If a fact-based explanation were available, you’d read it here. Alas, there is no such explanation. The closest sensible explanation is coaching. But then one must ask, how can a coach(es) be accountable for the opposing team drilling kicks consistently?

Of course, the Vikings play indoors for home games, but that was not the case in the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Moreover, the Chicago Bears also struggle with the opposition converting clips at an accelerated clip, so indoor-outdoor cannot be blamed in that example.

Sep 13, 2020; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports.

Minnesota went through a litany of kickers during the Mike Zimmer era to achieve a remedy. Blair Walsh missed a crucial playoff kick and never bounced back. Kai Forbath was clutch but couldn’t convert extra points at a percentage suitable to the coaching staff. The leash was short for Daniel Carlson, who was cut after a disastrous Week 2 showing in 2018. He’s now an All-Pro kicker in Las Vegas. Dan Bailey was good until he wasn’t. And recently, Greg Joseph got off to a wobbly start but seemed to rectify his sins as the 2021 season progressed.

Curses in sports are borderline farcical, but this one for the Vikings sticks, at least as of late. Vikings fans generally pivot to heartbreaking kicking examples from 25 years ago as evidence, which is a fair source of frustration. And statistically, the so-called curse has followed the Vikings into the 2010s and 2020s.

The most mind-boggling aspect of the curse is the other team’s ability to convert kicks seamlessly against the Vikings. Scream until you’re purple in the face about Vikings kickers failing to make quicks — that is fine and acceptable. But the opposition converting kicks versus Minnesota at a best-in-the-league percentage is downright eerie.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).