It was a tough ending to the 2015 season for everyone in the Vikings organization on Sunday.
ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert painted a vivid picture of the emotions in the somber locker room, noting Blair Walsh's difficulty of dealing with a missed 27-yard field goal in Minnesota's 10-9 loss to Seattle.
*His face was contorted in anguish. His shoulders shuddered. He gasped for air each time a player, coach or support staffer walked over to console him. *
This went on for 15 minutes, long after Walsh had taken full blame for the miss and exonerated his holder for setting the ball with the laces in. Finally, Walsh walked slowly to the shower. He emerged 10 minutes later, dressed, swiped through phone messages -- for his sake, hopefully he avoided Twitter -- and departed.
Walsh was still wiping away tears as Locke spoke. It was contagious. Eyes welled up all around him. This was pain. It mattered. And it was a reminder that, in an era when cynicism about professional sports has hit new heights, some people still do truly care. Remember that as you relive Blair Walsh's very public mistake for the next eight months.
Peter King of Sports Illustrated's The Monday Morning Quarterback checked in with "Voice of the Vikings" Paul Allen on the hurtful ending.
From Duluth west to Moorhead, from Warroad up near the Manitoba border south to Albert Lea, on the road to Iowa, the good people of Minnesota are in pain this morning. That is nothing compared to the pain of Blair Walsh. After the worst moment of Walsh's professional life Sunday afternoon, he answered question after question about it, for 12 minutes or so in the Vikings' locker room. Then Walsh sat at his locker. And he started to cry, and couldn't stop even when teammates came over and tried to tell him it'd be okay.
*I texted Paul Allen, the Vikings' fine play-by-play man who loves the franchise like few announcers love their teams, an hour after Seattle 10, Minnesota 9, and asked him if he could call me. "I cried," he texted back. *
Allen told King the game was an "absolute aorta-smasher."
In so many cases, the play before a more noticeable play goes overlooked and underappreciated. Mark Craig of the Star Tribune didn't let that happen to the play that preceded Trae Waynes' first career interception. He led his "five extra points" with a play by Sharrif Floyd on the previous snap.
*The most physically gifted and powerful defensive play the Vikings had Sunday was Sharrif Floyd's 2-yard tackle for loss on third-and-1 from the Vikings 38-yard line with the Vikings leading 3-0 early in the third quarter. It should have been hailed as an All-Pro-caliber play that led to rookie Trae Waynes' first career interception on fourth down and set the tone for the second half. *
If Floyd can stay healthy and not have to fill in at nose tackle, Sunday's play could be a weekly highlight. He timed his jump perfectly, beat guard J.R. Sweezy with a swim move and ran through a hold by tackle Garry Gilliam to drop running back Christine Michael. "I didn't guess the snap count," Floyd said. "It's all about studying. I knew the offense. We knew what they were going to do the whole game."
Rudolph big on final drive
Trailing by one with two minutes to go, the Vikings turned to Kyle Rudolph two plays in a row and netted 39 of the drive's 52 yards. From Andrew Krammer's "quick hits" for 1500ESPN.com:
First, Rudolph worked past safety Kam Chancellor and drew contact. Teddy Bridgewater attempted the pass just in time, turning a would-be hold into a 19-yard pass interference. He found Rudolph again for a 24-yard completion down the sideline, putting the Vikings in field goal position.