Forbath's accuracy nothing to kick about
MINNEAPOLIS — Neither distance nor frequency will increase the three-point value of field goals, but Kai Forbath's long-range accuracy Sunday meant more to the offensively challenged Vikings than a hard number.
Forbath became the first Minnesota kicker to convert six field goals in a game since Gary Anderson 19 years ago, and the Vikings needed every one of those 18 points to pull out a 24-16 victory at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Forbath also buried kicks of 52 and 51 yards, the first time the six-year veteran cleared 50-plus yards twice in a game.
"They're good for the stats, but they're the same amount of points no matter how far they are," Forbath said. "It was a good day. It was fun to be a part of this."
Forbath and Ravens kicker Justin Tuck combined for three 50-plus-yard field goals in the game's first 20 minutes as the teams struggled to generate any offensive momentum.
"We could have made it a little easier on ourselves, but Kai came up huge and made a ton of kicks," said tight end Kyle Rudolph. "Mission accomplished. We got the win."
Forbath insisted he did not spend any more postgame time in the cold tub than usual because of the increased demand for his services though he hardly had any downtime.
"It's more so on the side," he said. "Every time we're in scoring position I'm just kicking, kicking. Luckily our punt return also helped us get into good field position today. I was staying busy on the sideline."
Coach Mike Zimmer challenged his special teams to come up big, and they did.
Marcus Sherels returned three punts for 83 yards for a 27.7-yard average and returned kicks for the first time in his career—one for 20 yards. Ryan Quigley averaged a muscular 46 net yards per punt as the game developed into a field-position grind.
This season Forbath is 17 for 18 on field goals and has converted kicks of 50-plus yards in consecutive games for the first time, including last week's 53-yard make against Green Bay.
"It's a big momentum boost to kick that ball far enough," he said. "I just try to help the team every way I could. I felt good going into today. Hopefully it'll carry over next week."
Anderson kicked six field goals Dec. 13, 1998, also against Baltimore. Rich Karlis holds the Vikings' record with seven on Nov. 5, 1989, against the Los Angeles Rams.
Forbath continues to be a stabilizing force at the position since being signed mid-November 2016 after the Vikings released Blair Walsh in the midst of a tumultuous meltdown that started when Walsh missed a 27-yarder that would have vanquished Seattle in the 2015 playoffs.
Forbath converted his first 21 field goals for Minnesota before missing a 39-yarder in its Oct. 1 home loss to Detroit.
"He's made some great kicks," said coach Mike Zimmer. "He's right on the edge of where he needs to be. I think it's good that our offense understands where they have to be in order to get a field goal we're not going to get the third down."
Tucker converted from 57, 48 and 47 yards for the Ravens.
"The ball was flying pretty well for us today," he said. "You have to give Kai Forbath credit for hitting the ball pretty well today. As a kicker, you like to see guys do well. You just don't want to see them do too well."
It wasn't a perfect day for Forbath, however. He missed the extra point following Latavius Murray's 29-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, pushing it wide right. It was his third missed PAT this season and sixth overall with the Vikings.
"I thought I hit it well," he said. "We'll look at it. It's nothing I'm worried about. I'll get back on it next week."