Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman took a risk when releasing veteran kicker Ryan Longwell in favor of rookie Blair Walsh in the offseason, but it worked out well on Sunday
I haven't been a huge supporter of Spielman in the past, but a decision he made in the off season seems to have paid off on Sunday. In the spring the team released veteran kicker Ryan Longwell after selecting Georgia's Blair Walsh in the sixth round of the NFL draft in April. Finding a reliable and consistent placekicker can be difficult, so relying on an untested rookie can be a pretty big gamble.
But in the Vikings' 26-23 overtime victory against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, Spielman's faith in the strong-legged Walsh paid off. Under pressure with the team down 23-20 with twenty seconds left to the end of the game, the rookie boomed a 55 yard field goal that had room to spare, sending the season opener into overtime. Three minutes into overtime, Walsh calmly booted a 38 yarder to win the game for the Vikings.
In the off season Spielman had to defend his decision to part ways with the veteran Longwell in favor of Walsh, as skeptics pointed to the rookie's inconsistent senior season at Georgia. But for Sunday at least, Spielman looked like a genius, especially when you throw in Walsh's three touchbacks on his six kickoffs. Minnesota fans are hoping the kicker's opening day success continues through the upcoming months.