The Minnesota Vikings game Sunday was an emotional roller coaster and no one knows that better than Rhett Ellison and Blair Walsh.
With less than five minutes in the fourth quarter Ellison dropped a touchdown pass that would have given Minnesota the four point lead over the Chicago Bears. The dropped pass lead to the Bears gaining the ball and to eventual overtime play.
That was nothing compared to what happened next.
In overtime Ellison was given a facemask penalty that negated what would have been a game-winning field goal.
Ellison was flagged 15 yards while blocking during Blair Walsh’s 39-yard attempt, that flew straight threw the uprights and prematurely set off victory fireworks at the Metrodome. But on the second attempt Walsh blew his follow-up retry from 57 yards. Ellison was preparing for the long perp walk to the locker room believing “that I really screwed over the team.”
Ellison’s primary blocking responsibility was Chris Conte. But he acknowledged taking his eyes off Conte to try and block the speedy Devin Hester and inadvertently grabbed Conte’s facemask.
“I just made a big mistake,” he said. “You just try to erase it and move on to the next play. These guys wouldn’t give up so I couldn’t give up.”
Ellison sat on the sidelines after the facemask incident and felt major relief when the Vikings were able to capture the win.
“Like an elephant off my back,” Ellison described his emotional swing. “It was like a miracle. It was a great team win. These guys, the defense, I feel like I should take them all out somewhere. I owe them big time.”
Walsh felt some heat as well when he went to retry the kick and missed. His career long is 56 yards and that was during a week 16 victory at Houston. Ellison’s third-down penalty set up a potential 54-yard retry but the Vikings elected to run another play hoping to shave off a few yards. But Adrian Peterson was stuffed for a 3-yard loss.
“It was my fault,” he said. “I tried to kill it a little bit too much, but we were able to come back and make that last one.”
Coach Leslie Frazier went out to the field to shake the hand of Bears Coach Marc Trestman but was stopped in his tracks when the penalty was announced.
“I was just like, ‘Hard to believe that this is not game over,’ ” Frazier said.
Walsh, ever the optimist, sought out holder Jeff Locke on the sideline.
“I came to the sidelines, looked at Jeff and said ‘It’s gone; it’s done with.We’re going to get a chance to win this game,’ “said Walsh, who has converted 22 of 24 field-goal attempts this season.” Even when Robbie was going up for his attempt, he’s a great kicker, I just had a feeling we were going to get another chance, and we did.”
Walsh pointed out that opposing kickers were perfect against the Vikings in 2013 before Gould lined up his attempt.
“We hadn’t had one missed on us the whole year,” Walsh said. “It was due, let’s put it that way.”