With 13:45 to play in the second quarter, Latavius Murray notched the Vikings' first score of the game off a 1-yard touchdown run. Instead of bringing Carlson and the kicking unit out to attempt the point after, Zimmer elected to go for a two-point conversion. The objective wasn't to get Kirk Cousins and the first-team offense some in-game experience with the two-point attempt.
"Just let him (Carlson) know that if he's going to miss them (field goals), I'm going to go for two," Zimmer said.
Both of Carlson's misses came from 42 yards out and sailed wide left. His second miss came near halftime and would have left the Vikings trailing 10-9 headed into the third quarter. A chorus of boos rang down from the crowd at U.S. Bank Stadium as Carlson jogged off the field.
"I'm not going to let any one kick define me, good or bad," Carlson said. "I'm just going to keep my head up and keep working each and every day and continue to do what I've been doing and learn from this and move on."
Carlson said he was surprised to see Zimmer call for the two-point conversion but wasn't sure the reasoning behind the decision initially.
"I think that was just one of those things they wanted to work on in the preseason," Carlson said. "Obviously at the end we didn't want to go to overtime, so we went for it again. That worked out. A little surprised, but obviously I'm just cheering for the team, and whatever they need to work on this preseason to get ready for the season, I'm in support of that."
Zimmer addressed the media before Carlson spoke at his locker after the game. The rookie was made aware of what his coach said when told by a Twin Cities media member.
The Vikings cut veteran Kai Forbath on Monday, which put an end to the kicking competition. Forbath is the eighth-most accurate kicker in NFL history, but a league-high five misses on extra points (34-of-39) in 2017 put him on borrowed time in Minnesota.
Carlson, a fifth-round pick the Vikings traded up to draft, went 4-for-4 on extra points and 2-for-2 on field goals against Denver, including a 60-yarder, and performed well last week on kickoff duties against Jacksonville.
Special-teams coordinator Mike Priefer lauded Carlson for his calm demeanor and ability to remain even keel in high-pressure situations.
"I feel really good about his demeanor and how to approach him," Priefer said. "I'm completely different. I don't think I could be an NFL kicker. I'm a little off the reservation sometimes. I think he's so calm. I can learn how to coach a guy like that because I can be calm with him as well. That's the way I need to approach that." Zimmer noted that he wasn't so much concerned with Carlson's kicking abilities in general as he was the coverage units on punt returns.
"I'm going to chalk this one up to a bad night, but hopefully it gets better," Zimmer said.
Added Carlson: "It's part of the job. Every kicker is going to have different misses in different situations. Luckily this is preseason and we did get a win, so those are things I can be excited about, that it wasn't the end of the world. But I think as a kicker you just got to be prepared for the highs and the lows and try to stay calm and consistent and just continue to do your job one day at a time and one kick at a time. Like I said, there's nothing I can do right now to take it back, but I can get ready for the next kick that I get a chance to do."