MINNEAPOLIS -- Dan Bailey had to be perfect Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium. His bank account depended on it.
Entering the regular-season finale against the Chicago Bears, Bailey had made 23 of 25 field goals this season, good for an impressive 92 percent success rate.
That number was significant for Bailey because of an escalator clause in his current contract.
When he re-signed with the Vikings last offseason to a one-year, $1 million contract, he also had a shot at a $1 million bonus if he made at least 90% of his field goals for the year. That bonus, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, would dip to $750,000 if he was between 87.5% and 90% and to $500,000 if he was between 84% and 87.5%.
Essentially, that meant every time Bailey lined up for a field goal against the Bears, at least a quarter of a million dollars was on the line. If he missed even one field goal, he would have fallen below the 90 percent threshold, thus significantly decreasing his bonus.
Talk about pressure.
Not only did Bailey rise to the occasion Sunday, he went a perfect 4 for 4 in the game, emerging as a bright spot for the Vikings in their 21-19 loss to the Bears.
Bailey got a chance to test his nerves midway through the first half when the Vikings offense stalled at the end of a 14-play drive. That set up Bailey’s first field goal, from 37 yards. He added a 38-yard field goal right before halftime.
At that point nobody would have blamed Bailey for calling in sick for the second half of a rather meaningless game. He had effectively secured his $1 million bonus and playing the rest of the game would only jeopardize that.
Instead, Bailey made two more field goals in the second half, from 39 and 34 yards.
For those keeping track at home, that means Bailey finished this season 27 for 29 on field goals — 93.1 percent — while going perfect at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Remember, this is the same guy the Vikings almost released in favor of Kaare Vedvik back in training camp.