Blair Walsh (Jonathan Daniel/Getty)
Four Vikings made the NFC Pro Bowl team, including rookie kicker Blair Walsh and first-time Pro Bowler Jerome Felton. The other two, Adrian Peterson and Jared Allen, are Pro Bowl veterans.
Vikings kicker Blair Walsh made the Pro Bowl in his first NFL season, recognition for both his strong leg and consistency kicking field goals.
Walsh was one of four Vikings named to the Pro Bowl Wednesday, joining RB Adrian Peterson, FB Jerome Felton and DE Jared Allen.
Walsh has made 32 of 35 field goal attempts, including an NFL-record 9 of 9 from 50 yards or more. He also has the Vikings single-season record with 49 touchbacks, fourth in the NFL.
Ryan Longwell, who was released in favor of Walsh after the Vikings’ rookie minicamp in spring, gave kudos to Walsh via Twitter after Sunday’s game, when Walsh broke the NFL record with nine field goals of 50 yards or more in one season.
“I’ve purposely not commented on any football stuff this entire year so let me make my first one now. I’ve seen many great seasons go unrewarded by not getting voted to Pro Bowl,” Longwell posted on Twitter. “But if @BlairWalsh3 does not get voted in this year it will prove system is broke!
“What more can the guy do?? Accuracy, 9-9 50+ yarders, Kickoff touchbacks and a game winner in his first career game.”
Walsh becomes the first Vikings rookie kicker to be selected to the Pro Bowl, and the first rookie kicker in the NFL to make the Pro Bowl since 2007, when Dallas’ Nick Fold was named to the NFC squad. The last time the Vikings sent a kicker was in 1998, when Gary Anderson made it.
Peterson, the NFL’s leading rusher, is no surprise at all and no stranger to Pro Bowls. He is leading the NFL and has a team-record 1,898 rushing yards, is tied for second in the league with 11 rushing TDs and leads the league in yards from scrimmage with 2,023. His seven runs of 50 yards or more in 2012 is tied for the most in NFL history in a single season with Barry Sanders in 1997. It is Peterson’s fifth Pro Bowl honor.
Peterson’s success had a big hand in Felton’s first selection to the Pro Bowl, just as Felton’s blocking had an impact on Peterson’s productivity. Felton becomes the third fullback in team history to be voted to the Pro Bowl, joining Bill Brown, who played in four (1964, ’65, ’67, and ’68), and Tony Richardson, who played in Peterson’s rookie season (2007).
“I’m also thankful that Jerome was selected, but I’m disappointed that none of the guys up front were chosen,” Peterson said in a statement. “Those guys have contributed so much to the team’s success and to my success; they are all Pro Bowlers to me.”
Allen was named to his fifth Pro Bowl after posting 11.0 sacks on the season (he was credited with an additional sack from Sunday’s game). Since 2004, Allen leads all players in sacks with 115.0.
A few of the Vikings worthy of consideration that didn’t make it were left tackle Matt Kalil, center John Sullivan and linebacker Chad Greenway.
“It doesn’t make or break your career obviously, but it’s certainly nice to get an accolade like that, even if I was an alternate,” Greenway said last week about being a Pro Bowl alternate last year. “It is what it is, you just go out there and play and have fun. It’s more important to have your teammates rely on you each week.”
Kalil led the fan portion of voting for the Pro Bowl, which makes up one-third of the voting total. Players and coaches make up the other two-thirds of the vote.
“Just by winning the fan vote itself, that was a pretty cool accomplishment. I’d be fine with just that,” Kalil said Wednesday before the teams were announced. “That’s pretty cool to look at. Obviously that’s not my main focus. If I don’t make the Pro Bowl, I’d rather win the Super Bowl than get in the Pro Bowl.”
The Pro Bowl will be played in Aloha Stadium in Honolulu on Jan. 17, 2013.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.