MINNEAPOLIS -- Mike Zimmer was blunt. By the end, Blair Walsh was sobbing. So went the postgame emotion Sunday at TCF Bank Stadium after the Seattle Seahawks' stunning 10-9 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.
Zimmer had little to say about Walsh's miss of a 27-yard field goal attempt, one that would have put the Vikings ahead with 22 seconds remaining. "It's a chip shot," the Vikings' coach said. "He's got to make it."
Walsh felt the same way and broke into tears minutes later in the Vikings' locker room after completing an interview session with reporters. Walsh, who had converted 33 of 34 kicks from inside 30 yards in his career before the fateful attempt, took full blame. He exonerated holder Jeff Locke, who had set the laces toward Walsh instead of away from him, as per standard fundamentals, and said he wasn't immediately sure what went wrong.
"It's so quick that I don't know what happened," Walsh said. "You have to go back and look at the film. But I can tell you this: It's my fault. I don't care whether you give me a watermelon hold [a poor, loose hold], I should be able to put that one through. Jeff did his job. [Long-snapper Kevin McDermott] did his job. I'm the only one who didn't do his job. That's on me."
Locke was equally morose postgame.
"Kevin and I both feel like we missed the kick," Locke said. "It's all three of us. We're a unit. It feels terrible."
Although Walsh brushed off the lace issue, Locke was crushed that he did not align them correctly.
"I've got to spin it," he said. "Simple as that. In these conditions, it's very difficult to do, to control the spin. But that's part of my job. So I've got to do it. ...
"Kevin and mine jobs is to make it look as easy as possible for Blair, and that picture is not the laces staring him in the face."
Walsh had been the only offense for the Vikings all afternoon at frigid TCF Bank Stadium, where a minus-6 temperature made it the third-coldest NFL game on record.
He hit three field goals from 22, 43 and 47 yards in the first three quarters and lined up to send the Vikings to the next round and eliminate the two-time defending NFC champions, but with Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman breathing down their necks, Locke put the ball down with the laces facing toward Walsh, and the kicker pulled it well left.
"It didn't feel good off my foot,'' Walsh said. "I kind of knew right away. It's just ridiculous. You have to do much better than that and I didn't."