When Blair Walsh hooked his game-winning field goal wide left, he added his name and Sunday’s devastating result to a long list of postseason heartbreaks for the Minnesota Vikings.
In fact, few teams know playoff suffering quite like the Vikings, especially recently.
Minnesota is 0-4 overall in Super Bowls, but it’s now been almost 40 years since the Vikings played for a Lombardi Trophy. The last four decades have provided gut punch after gut punch for a franchise and fanbase so ready to win but so terrified of being hurt again on the biggest stage.
Another chapter was born in the sub-zero temps at TCF Bank Stadium.
Walsh, who led the NFL in field goals made in 2015 and started Sunday’s game 3-for-3, shanked his 27-yard field goal with 22 seconds left—allowing the Seattle Seahawks to leave Minnesota with a 10-9 win.
The Vikings weren’t one play or one kick from another Super Bowl opportunity. But this latest heartbreak did rob Minnesota of the chance to see where a promising 2015 season could end up.
“We’ll never know,” head coach Mike Zimmer said, via ESPN. “We did a lot of things a lot of people didn’t think we could have done, and I think that’s what hurts the most. We don’t get an opportunity to continue to do that.”
Good luck finding a franchise with four losses as crushing as this quartet over the last 20 years:
Seahawks at Vikings, NFC Wild Card Round, Jan. 2016
Down one point during one of the coldest playoff games ever, the Vikings drove down the field to set up a potential game-winning field goal with under a half-minute left. Instead of taking a 12-10 lead, Blair Walsh’s 27-yard kick hooked left—handing Seattle an unbelievable win.
Vikings at Saints, NFC Championship Game, Jan. 2010
Brett Favre giveth, Brett Favre taketh away. After leading the Vikings to the doorstep of playing for a Super Bowl, Favre made a terrible decision—throwing across his body and into the waiting arms of Saints cornerback Tracy Porter late in the 2009 NFC Championship Game. The resulting interception robbed Minnesota of a golden chance to kick the game-winning field goal. In overtime, the Saints kicked the game-winner and advanced to the Super Bowl.
Vikings at Giants, NFC Championship Game, Jan. 2001
Heartbreak can manifest in different ways. One win away from the Super Bowl, the Vikings laid one of the biggest eggs in conference championship history, losing 41-0 to the Giants in the 2000 NFC title game. New York scored 34 points in the first half, while the Vikings committed five turnovers and finished the contest with just 116 total yards. The 41-point loss still stands as Minnesota’s worst playoff defeat in franchise history.
Falcons at Vikings, NFC Championship Game, Jan. 1999
The heartbreak to end all heartbreak. The Vikings finished the 1998 season with a 15-1 record and one of the most productive offenses in NFL history. It all came crashing down when kicker Gary Anderson, who hadn’t missed a field goal all season, sailed his game-clinching kick wide left (sound familiar?) with 2:07 left. The Falcons proceeded to march down the field for the game-tying touchdown, sending the NFC title game into overtime. Atlanta’s Morten Andersen then sent the Falcons—who were a double-digit road underdog—to the Super Bowl with a made field goal in the extra period.
Bonus: Vikings at Cardinals, Week 17, Dec. 2003
Not a playoff game, but close enough. Needing a victory over the 3-12 Cardinals to win the NFC North and clinch a playoff spot, the Vikings found a way to lose in the most dramatic fashion. Up 17-12, Minnesota allowed Josh McCown to throw an incredible touchdown pass to Nate Poole on 4th and 25 with no time left. The loss ended the Vikings season and sent the Green Bay Packers to the playoffs.