The term, “Laces Out,” will likely follow Minnesota Vikings kicker Blair Walsh for the rest of his career.
Much like fictional Miami Dolphins’ kicker Ray Finkel learned the importance of football placement during an infamous scene from the 1993 movie Ace Ventura Pet Detective, Walsh found himself in a similar situation. In the movie, Finkel botched a field goal attempt and lost the Super Bowl because the football laces were facing in when he made the kick, sending the ball flying outside the goal posts. That scene came to mind this week as we ponder why Walsh kicked the ball with the laces facing in during the deciding play that would send either NFC North champion Minnesota Vikings, or their opponents, last year’s NFC champion Seattle Seahawks, to advance in the playoffs.
It was because of this scene that many fans felt they had just witnessed the pivotal scene from the film in real life. Social media blew up with #LacesOut tweets on Twitter, with many fans comparing and even nicknaming Walsh “Ray Finkle.”
Playing in frigid temperatures in what could be described as “brutal,” both teams endured the cold weather while showing dominance on the field. The score was Seattle 10 – Minnesota 9 after the Seahawks made a comeback in the fourth quarter to secure the lead, after kicker Steven Hauschka’s 46-yard field goal. The Seahawks hadn’t scored in the past three quarters. But that was about to change when Seahawks QB Russell Wilson threw a three-yard touchdown to receiver Doug Baldwin.
It was later in the quarter when it looked like the Seahawks luck was about to run out. The Seahawks were charged a 15-yard penalty after defensive pass interference by strong safety Kam Chancellor. From there, Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater completed a shotgun pass for 24 yards to wide receiver Kyle Rudolph to secure a first down and set up the game winning field goal. From there it looked like the Seahawks chances of turning things around with only 26 seconds left on the play clock and a chance at a third Super Bowl appearance were grim.
Walsh was brought onto the field to kick the winning 27-yard field goal, to put an end to the Vikings’ playoff woes, as they hadn’t been to the playoffs since 2012. But it wasn’t meant to be. Walsh’s kick into the football’s laces slanted the ball to the far left of the goal post, missing what would’ve been the game winning score – and another close loss for the Seahawks.
NFL editor Gregg Rosenthal stated the following.
“fifty-nine minutes of tense, sub-zero football will be mostly forgotten … Walsh’s missed 27-yard field-goal attempt with 26 seconds left will go downin Vikings history, alongside other blunders.”
It was during the replay that the audience noticed that the laces of the football were faced in. Livestrong weighed in.
“if you’ve ever heard the term, ‘laces out,’ it refers to the way a football should be kicked. A kicker’s foot striking the laces of the ball can result in an erratic kick that goes off to the side, out of the kicker’s control. Consequently, punters and place-kick holders immediately catch the ball and rotate the laces so that they face in the direction opposite of where the kicker’s foot will contact the ball. This eliminates the risk of the laces causing an errant kick.”
If the ball is facing “laces out” during a field goal attempt, the kicker has a better chance to kick a successful field goal. Though earlier in the 3rd QTR, Walsh had kicked a successful 43-yard field goal with the laces in.
During a press conference on Seahawks, Seattle coach, Pete Carroll was proud of all the players.
“It was as challenging as a game can be. It was a surviving day for both teams. I feel bad for their kicker missing the kick, but you have to execute it just like our kickers did. Everyone should be commended under the most difficult of circumstances.”