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Vikings see extra-point advantage at home

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The Minnesota Vikings, playing their home games outside this season before moving back into a new dome stadium next year, could have a home-field advantage on the longer extra-point kicks in 2015.

The NFL announced last week that extra points will now be kicked from the 15-yard line with two-point conversions remaining at the 2-yard line. The new rule also gives the defense the ability to score two points on returns.

The Vikings are a cold-weather team this season at TCF Bank Stadium, and special teams coach Mike Priefer likes it that way.

Priefer said the new PAT rule will make kicks tougher on cold days, giving the Vikings an edge over their opponents.

“I’m excited about it. I think it will be a home-field advantage for us because it’s nasty,” Priefer told the Pioneer Press. “TCF is a nasty place to kick in November and December, and our guys will be ready for it. We’ll be used to it, absolutely.”

The Vikings play five of their final nine regular-season games outdoors at TCF Bank Stadium, and the team likely will practice outside before those games.

Of the final five home games, one is against the St. Louis Rams, who play in a dome, and one is against the Seattle Seahawks. The others are against cold-weather teams: the Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears and New York Giants.

Vikings kicker Blair Walsh is 108 of 109 in his career on 20-yard extra points (99.1 percent), but Priefer would like to see him be better — even at 33 yards.

“I hope he’s 100 percent; that’s what you hope for,” Priefer said. “I would expect him to be 100 percent, as I’m sure most coaches would expect their guy to be at 100 percent because that’s a 33-yard kick.”

With a blocked extra point returned for a touchdown now being worth two points, Priefer is concerned because of what happened last season.

“Last year we gave up two blocks (on field goals), and we can’t do that this year,” Priefer said. “That’s going to be our emphasis all spring and all summer long.”


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