When memorable plays happen – for better or for worse – fans take it upon themselves to name the play in a way that will immortalize it forever. There’s The Immaculate Reception, The Catch,The Helmet Catch, The Fumble, The Play.
Minnesotans have their own lexicon when it comes to infamous plays. There was Pearson’s Push Off in 1975, Darrin Nelson’s Drop in 1987, The Gary Anderson Game in 1998, 41-Donut in 2000 and12 Men in the Huddle in 2009.
Now it’s time to add to the dictionary.
Blair Walsh missed a 27-yard field goal last Sunday that would have sent the Vikings into the division round of the playoffs. Instead, Minnesota lost to the favored Seattle Seahawks 10-9 in the third coldest game in NFL history.
What nickname will go down in Vikings lore to describe Walsh’s improbable gaffe? Here are five suggestions, ranked from least likely to most likely.
27 Stresses – 1 percent chance
Obviously a play off the movie 27 Dresses, this nickname accounts for the yardage of the kick and the negative feelings associated with it. While the cinematic tie is clever, it would be tough to explain the reference to somebody in a future generation. Not only would a young person in 2030 not understand the movie reference, they wouldn’t understand that the number 27 represents the yardage. Left to the imagination, it could mean a jersey number, or 27 seconds on the clock, or a 4th and 27 conversion.
This name has too short a shelf-life to win naming rights.
Hook, Off-Line and Stinker – 9 percent chance
There’s not much momentum for this suggestion, but a parody of the phrase ‘Hook, Line and Sinker’ has some intriguing elements to it. The first word obviously describes the nature of the kick: It was a hook by Walsh. The second word reinforces that point in case somebody is slow on the uptake: The kick was off-line. And finally, the game ended up being a stinker. The Vikings missed their chance at a playoff run and have to spend the offseason in regret.
Laces In – 25 percent chance
Now we get into the real heat of the competition. “Laces In” was very strong out of the gate in this nickname competition before losing some steam over the last few days. It’s still in the running, though.
Whether it was the snap by Kevin McDermott or the hold by Jeff Locke, the football Walsh kicked had the laces facing inward. While dozens of experts have come out and said that inward-facing laces should not affect a kick at that distance, their theory doesn’t take into account the mental aspect of Walsh seeing the laces during his approach and being thrown off his rhythm.
The laces are the variable that makes this miss unique, or at least partially exonerates Walsh from 100 percent blame. Did the laces have even a tiny bit to do with the shank? Just the debate alone will keep this nickname alive.
Sidenote: For those more interested in naming this play after the hold, rather than the kick, try out “Bad Hold in the Cold” and see how that resonates.
The Shank at The Bank – 30 percent chance
This is a pretty ingenious nickname. It describes the kick AND the kick’s location AND it rhymes. This name already has a cult following and will probably enjoy a good run as the leading nickname for Walsh’s blunder.
But we want long-term nomenclature. What hurts this name down the road is that the Vikings are about to play in another stadium that will also be referred to as “The Bank.” In 30 years, people may forget that “The Shank at The Bank” occurred over at the University of Minnesota. They’ll start assuming it happened at US Bank Stadium. And the last thing Vikings fans need is the association of Walsh’s kick happening at the wrong Bank.
This nickname is exciting and catchy. But it may not be exactly what we’re looking for.
Walsh Wide Left – 35 percent chance
It seems like each team has their own Wide Left or Wide Right horror story. While Gary Anderson’s miss in 1998 provided the Vikings’ first Wide Left moment, the nickname didn’t fully catch on because there were still other factors that contributed to that devastating loss 17 years ago. But now is the perfect time to elevate Walsh’s miss as the Vikings’ worst Wide Left in team history. It’s even got the alliteration to give it some flavor: Walsh Wide Left.
It’s simple with just three words, it contains the culprit, and it contains the direction of the kick. Just saying Walsh Wide Left in four decades is guaranteed to bring back vivid memories of the snap, the hold and the fateful boot.
Sorry, Blair. Your name is going to forever be attached to one of the saddest moments in team history.