Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer seemed to throw kicker Dan Bailey under the bus during Monday night’s 24-17 victory over the Packers. NBC reporter Michelle Tafoya reported at halftime that Zimmer said he would go for it on fourth down in the second half to avoid putting the game in Bailey’s hands.
After the game, Zimmer admitted he’d been frustrated that Bailey had missed two field goals in the first half, from 48 and 56 yards.
“I was frustrated, yeah, but I was going to be aggressive in this ballgame,” ZImmer said. “I don’t think you beat teams by being passive, so I was going to be aggressive anyway.
“Everyone was frustrated because he missed two kicks. Quite honestly, I have a lot of confidence in this kid. … I have a lot of confidence in this kid. Every day in practice he hits them and he has a good demeanor about him.”
Bailey kicked a 37-yard field goal in second half.
“It obviously felt good,” Bailey said of that third-quarter kick (via TwinCities.com). “Not the kind of night I wanted to have to start. Just getting the three points on the board there at that point in the second half was huge for us.”
Coincidentally, the Vikings had a kicker issue in their last meeting with the Packers, a 29-29 tie in Week 2. Daniel Carlson missed all three field goal attempts in that game, leading the team to release him and sign Bailey. The 30-year-old former Cowboys kicker has made 15-of-19 field goal attempts for the Vikings, and missed only one of 20 PATs.
But for a franchise with a painful history of kickers missing rather easy kicks that cost them playoff games (see Gary Anderson, 1998, and Blair Walsh, 2015), Bailey understands he might be on a short leash.
“Everybody keeps bringing that up,” Bailey said. “To be honest, it’s a non-factor for me. I recognize what’s gone on here in the past. I pay attention to that kind of stuff. That said, it really has nothing to do with me at all. I’ve just got to do my thing and go out there and try to put them through no matter what.”