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Notebook: Kai Forbath's Hot Start Nothing New for Vikings Kicker

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. —Kai Forbath has been red hot since joining the Vikings almost a month ago. 

The kicker is a perfect 10-for-10 on field goals this season with a long of 48 yards and made all four of his attempts in Sunday's win in Jacksonville.

Forbath's strong start is reminiscent of the 2012 season, when he joined Washington in Week 6 and promptly made 17 straight field goals.

"I think it's just being confident," Forbath said. "Just knowing there's no reason to miss, really.

"I go out there every time thinking I'm going to make the kick," he added. "When you start doubting yourself before each kick, that's when you struggle." 

Forbath scored Minnesota's first 12 points of Sunday's game, hitting from 43, 32, 40 and 46 yards.

The former UCLA kicker, who signed with the Vikings on Nov. 16, said he'd prefer to be attempting extra points.

But he'll take three points rather than none any day, especially since he felt comfortable on a 71 degree day.

"I always stay confident, no matter what," Forbath said. "You kind of put those ones behind you and go to the next one.

"You don't say, 'Oh, I'm kicking this many today,' you just take one at a time," he added. "Obviously we want touchdowns when we get down there, but it's my job to score when they don't get there and help the team get at least three points."

Forbath also quipped that he didn't think about getting into a personal competition with Jacksonville kicker Jason Meyers on Sunday, especially in the first half.

The kickers combined for six first-half field goals, and seven overall, as they tallied the game's first 21 points.

"No, it's just me doing whatever I can to help the team get points when we need them," Forbath said. "I'm not worried about what they're doing or what the score is, every kick is like a new kick for me.

"It doesn't matter what the situation is or how far it is, it's being simple and making sure I make that kick," he added.

Harris fills in for Harrison

Vikings safety Anthony Harris made his third career start Sunday against the Jaguars as he replaced Harrison Smith, Minnesota's leading tackler.

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer gave his thoughts on Harris' performance during his usual Monday press conference.

"He did OK," Zimmer said. "The touchdown pass was his, and he made a tackle on the third-and-1 on the checkdown to the back.

"He was a little late in one of the runs getting over there," Zimmer added. "We had pressure that he should have been, and then he missed a tackle. So, it was kind of an up-and-down day."

Perhaps Harris' best play of the day came on the third-and-1 sequence Zimmer mentioned. With the Vikings leading 9-6 late in the second half, Harris closed quickly on a swing pass to Jaguars running back T.J. Yeldon for no gain. 

The tackle limited Jacksonville to a field goal. 

"I was just trying to think about the defense as a whole – where they'd been attacking us, where their good players are aligned pre-snap, so I just tried to help out … as well as being in position to make a play and cover my assignment," Harris said. "On that play, I held for as long as I could, kind of read the quarterback, broke on the ball, and then I was just thinking, 'Get him down.' 

"I would have liked to keep him in bounds, keep the clock running, but he was able to get out," he added. "But I was able to stop him from getting the first down, so we held them to a field goal. That was a nice play." 

Harris said he appreciates the chance for playing time and plans to make the most of it, he just wishes it wasn't at the expense of Smith.

"I feel like it's a good opportunity for me," Harris said. "Would have liked it [without] losing one of our best players on the team, but guys just have to be prepared to step in.

"Up until this point, I've just been trying to contribute any way that I can, get better each day and just go from there," he added.

Kearse's helping hand

Sunday's game was special for Vikings rookie Jayron Kearse for multiple reasons. He returned to his home state to play in front of friends and family.

"My daughter [Ja'Riah] was watching her first NFL game live, so it was a great experience, and I'm happy I was able to contribute and do something to get the W," Kearse said.

Kearse was able to lay fingerprints on part of the win, playing 20 snaps. Kearse partially blocked a punt by Brad Nortman that netted 29 yards and gave the Vikings the ball at their own 41-yard line.

"Really, a great scheme by [Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer] put me in the right position and the other 10 guys doing their job eventually opened up a gap for me to sneak in and get a hand on the punt," Kearse said.

The 6-foot-4, 215-pounder was able to use the length of his arm to reach the punt.

"My arms are longer than usual, so I was further away but able to reach out and get a hand on it," Kearse said. "I definitely know that played a huge part in it."

Blocking kicks can create physical pain, but Kearse said it was worth it to help the Vikings get the win to start their fourth quarter's worth of games.

"We've got one down and three more to go, just coming in every day and preparing, trying to go out there and mimic what we did yesterday, come out on top in these next three and with some help from a few teams, hopefully get in the playoffs and handle business from there."

The return trip was also a significant jump. After the game-time temperature was 71 degrees and sunny, the Vikings found several inches of snow and sub-freezing temps when they returned to Winter Park. It's the most snow that Kearse has ever seen.

"Coming back to this last night, cars were covered in snow, couldn't even open doors," Kearse said. "It was crazy, something I've got to get used to, but I'll be ready to handle it."

Scoring late is great

Zimmer said Monday that he's noticed a trend in his offense, and it's something he's proud of.

In a Week 9 home loss to Detroit, the Vikings scored a go-ahead touchdown with 27 seconds left.

Minnesota then scored with 25 seconds remaining against Dallas, but the ensuing two-point conversion was no good.

The Vikings then essentially sealed Sunday's win with another late touchdown, as tight end Kyle Rudolph caught a 3-yard touchdown with just over two minutes left.

"Now they're kind of seeing some of the benefits from that," Zimmer said of his offense. "So, I think that's good thing.

"I think, offensively yesterday, we played together as a unit," he added. "Guys were fighting together, not being independent contractors."

Vikings running back Jerick McKinnon said Minnesota knew they could be victorious by scoring and keeping possession of the ball. The Vikings held the ball for more than 10 minutes in the fourth quarter on Sunday.

"We came up big on some third downs and sustained some drives," McKinnon said. "I think that played a big part in that.

"It's all about executing because we know our defense is going to make stops, it's up to us to score points and create separation," he added.

Staying in place

The NFL announced that the Week 16 game between the Buccaneers and Saints has been flexed to 3:25 p.m. (CT), which also means that Minnesota's game at Green Bay will remain at noon (CT).

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