Blair Walsh keeps missing and the Vikings keep letting him kick extra points. Why not start going for two?
The Vikings are 1-for-1 on two-point conversions this season – 6-for-6 since Mike Zimmer was named head coach in 2014 – and the NFL success rate in 2016 is 59.2 percent (29-for-49).
Walsh is 13-for-16 on extra points. That's dead last in the NFL among everyday kickers at 81.3 percent. The rest of the NFL has been incredibly consistent.
- 14 haven't missed
- 10 have missed once
- 6 have missed twice
- 2 have missed three times
San Diego's Josh Lambo is the only other kicker with three missed extra points, but he has attempted 13 more than Walsh.
2-point conversions instead of extra points
If the Vikings were successful at the league average of 59.2 percent, they would have made good on nine of 16 this season. It's only moving the ball two yards and Minnesota's rushing attack is averaging a booming 2.7 yards per carry.
- 9 two-point conversions = 18 points
- 13 Walsh extra points = 13 points
They would still be doing better than Walsh if they made just eight (50 percent), or even seven (43.4 percent) of 16 conversions.
In order to be less effective than Walsh, the Vikings would need to have failed on 10 of 16 tries – a dismal 37.5 percent success rate.
Only the Cardinals, Titans, Rams and Chargers (all of them going for two three or fewer times) have failed to hit on at least 50 percent of their two-point tries. The Steelers were 8-for-11 on two-point tries and two-thirds of the league were better than 50 percent last season.
Game situations clearly dictate whether a team should go for two, but the situation wouldn't matter if the Vikings simply decide to stop risking a Walsh miss and go for two every time.
How a 2-pointer could've changed Sunday's game
In Sunday's loss to Detroit, had Walsh made his extra point to tie the game 10-10 in the third quarter, the game might have unfolded like this:
- Vikings wouldn't have had to go for it on 4th and 1 from the 4, where they got stuffed.
- Instead, they could have kicked a 21-yard field goal to tie the game 13-13.
- The touchdown to Kyle Rudolph would have put the Vikings up by 6 with 23 seconds left.
- And the Lions would have had to score a touchdown to force overtime.
Walsh's missed extra point forced Minnesota's hand the rest of the game and ultimately was the biggest mistake of the day – and probably the deciding factor in the Vikings not being 6-2 with a two-game lead over the Packers in the NFC North.