Walsh captures NFL first, then Wilf's tie

Blair Walsh (Andy King/Getty)

Rookie kicker Blair Walsh performed perfectly under pressure situations Sunday, earning an NFL first and then Zygi Wilf's tie.

Blair Walsh kicked himself into NFL history.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Blair Walsh was the third player to win his NFL debut by kicking an overtime field goal – joining Matt Bahr (1979 Steelers) and Todd Peterson (1994 Cardinals). But Walsh was the only one of those three to also send the game to overtime with a field goal.

Walsh hit a 55-yard field goal as time expired in regulation to send the Minnesota Vikings into overtime against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Three minutes, 54 seconds into overtime he hit a 38-yard field goal that turned out to be the game-winner in a 26-23 Vikings victory.

"Honestly, after the 55 I was celebrating a little bit on the sideline and I was like, ‘Man, I've got to get right back into focus and rhythm mode' because I know it's about to come up again for us to hit one," Walsh said. "The 38-yarder I went out there and hit it just like any other kick."

The 55-yarder was made harder because Walsh – who is generously listed at 5-foot-10 and 192 pounds – was given a little extra pre-kick contact by Adrian Peterson. Peterson, who is 6-foot-1, 217 pounds, was excited that the Vikings were in field goal range after Christian Ponder connected on two straight passes for a combined 32 yards in 10 seconds of game time to give Walsh a shot with four seconds left.

"He slapped my helmet and kind of turned it actually. I was laughing when I was running onto the field because I couldn't believe he just did that," Walsh said. "Most people don't even want to touch the kicker or talk to him or anything. Christian just gave me a little low high-five as I walking by and (Peterson) went and slapped my helmet. I don't think he knows how strong he is."

No matter. Walsh nailed the third of his four field goals as time in regulation expired, and the 55-yarder tied for the second-longest field goal in franchise history.

Walsh said he had a lot of friends and former coaches congratulate him, but it was the one who writes the checks that made the most lasting impact with Walsh.

Zygi Wilf emerged from the locker room minutes after the game and let out a big sigh of relief before a smile washed over his face. He also emerged without a tie.

Wilf gave his tie to Walsh as a souvenir, as the owner has done a few other times after memorable performances by Vikings players.

"I guess that's his thing to do, sort of a gift tie to whatever player he felt like he wanted to give it to that game. That was funny," Walsh said.

"Like literally off his neck and threw it at me. I didn't know what to expect. I was like, ‘Alright.'"

It's all right now that the Vikings escaped the season opener with a win and Walsh came away one of the heroes in his first official NFL game.

Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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