Minnesota Running Back
Q: What was the feeling for you and the team when you saw that last pass was incomplete?
A: It was an awesome feeling, the defense stepped up and made plays when we needed them to make plays to get that W. Through the adversity that we have been through guys continue to fight. It showed tonight that when you continue to believe and have faith and go out there and continue to swing no matter what, you can come out on top.
A: Yeah, he looked more calm, he looked comfortable. He just went out there and played football. The way he came out and approached it allowed us to be balanced offensively, he was able to complete a lot of balls to a lot of different receivers and it kept Washington’s defense on their heels. He was able to sneak a run in there and be more balanced offensively, and shoot, we were able to move the ball.
Q: How disappointing would it be where it looks like he turns a corner in this game and now he might be injured?
A: He’s a tough guy, he will bounce back. I don’t know the extent of his injury, but he helped us get this win tonight. Matt (Cassel) came in and stepped up and made plays when we needed him to make plays as well. It shows the kind of ability in the quarterback position.
Q: So did
A: Oh yeah, that’s what I’m saying.
Minnesota Defensive End
Q: Talk about the game Kevin had tonight after the comments last week?
A: When Kevin speaks everybody listens, right? He’s a powerful man; he’s a hell of a player still. It drives me crazy when people think he lost a step. Unfortunately in this league we are only judged by sacks now. What he does in the run game with his leadership and the ability he still has to make game changing plays just proves how good he really is. With his leadership and his accomplishments in the league, when he talks you listen and he backed it up.
Q: Did you notice how much they ran at you guys today?
A: No, they gashed us last year in the run and they kind of gashed us today in the run. That’s what that offense is built off of. It’s built off of zone read and then play action off of it. When they get into a rhythm like you saw in the first half, it’s tough to stop. I thought we were much better on second down in the second half and with our ability to get the sacks and get off the field on third down. When you get a lead at the end like that you force them to be one dimensional and even then they still have a run game.
Minnesota Vikings LB
Q: What do you feel was the game changer in the second half?
A: I think tackling, focus and generally just locking in. We played in the second how we have to keep playing
Q: What was said at halftime, because things changed pretty drastically?
A: I think it was pretty basic. Jared Allen did a pretty good job by getting at us in the way he needed to. Tackling was obviously a challenge for us in the first half, and plays that we were locked on from a schematic standpoint and we weren’t making stops because we weren’t able to get after the ball. It got to us, but it was more of just what we were doing and not really what they were doing. But I have got to give credit to a lot of guys.
Q: Missed tackles, what do you do to correct that?
A: I have to look at myself and what the easiest way is to correct that. You’ve got to run your feet, keep your head up and run through. It is basic, fundamental football. I’m just missing too many and we can’t do that. If we want to keep playing good defense we can’t keep missing those tackles.
Minnesota Defensive Tackle
Q: Its been awhile since you’ve had a game like that…
A: Yeah and they keep reminding me, 2009, with a multiple side game, but we needed a win. We didn’t do very well in second halves and we decided we need to lay down or come out fighting, and the guys did a tremendous effort and we were able to get the job done.
Q:Do you think the comments you made last week had any effect on the coaching staff’s strategy?
A: I’m not really sure, it was the heat of the moment and I was just speaking on the front lines point of view. We always feel that we can get there with four people and we always like rushing with four versus dropping one. It wasn’t much more than that.
Q: What changed from the first 40-45 minutes tonight that you kind of did whatever you wanted then all of a sudden you guys started to dominate the game.
A:We came in here, didn’t draw anything on the board, and just said we would come out and get the job done. We can draw up all the plays we want, but if we didn’t execute they would drive us out of here and we could either get embarrassed or stand up and fight.
Minnesota Tight End John Carlson
Q: How does it feel to have an impact like that after everything you’ve gone through the last couple of years?
A: It was a great team win, that’s the most important thing. Look around the locker room and guys are happy. We working really hard at this and ultimately we’re judged on wins and losses so it’s rewarding and it feels great to get that team win.
Q: You guys were down twice , what was the mood going back out on the field?
A: I don’t think we wavered. The defense had to come out and get a big stop for us and then offensively, we needed to answer and put some points on the board. I think we left the defense out there a little too much in the first half and the defense had a three and out and a four and out I believe. We knew that we just had to play a little better, execute better, that’s the story of our season, but we came out and did it.
Q: It was a team win, but you had a career-high personally, you have to be able to smile a little bit for yourself.
A: Yeah, I’m excited it was fun to be involved, but obviously we miss Kyle (Rudolph). Kyle’s a beast and we want him out there on the field. It was fun to be out there on offense and hopefully that can continue, but we want Kyle back as soon as possible.
Q: How did it feel to get back out there?
A: It was exciting. It’s always easy when you’re on the half yard line and you’re first and goal from the half yard line. The team played great. I thought that Christian (Ponder) played outstanding, I mean he battled all night long and what a great effort by him. Great effort by our team in the second half to comeback, fight through adversity and get a win tonight.
Q: Were you expecting to come in as an emergency backup, what were your guys’ mindset because everyone was active tonight?
A: I knew that I was the backup and I always prepare, so I was happy that I was able to come in and contribute. We were able to move the ball and get some points, at the same time the load of the work Christian did himself. He did an outstanding job and I thought he battled all night. He made plays with his legs and, like I said, it makes it easier for me to come into that situation. When we have a lead, the teams playing well and, like I said, I was just happy to be able to contribute.
Vikings Quarterback Christian Ponder
I decided to wear this sling for dramatic effect to this press conference so you all could feel bad for me. I am proud of the way we played. We fought to the very end. There were so many times, especially on that last drive, when guys could have bought in that something was going to happen, that we were going to lose this game, but we didn’t. There was a point in time when we were down by 13 points, but third quarter, we kept battling back. We only dressed 44 guys. That’s great; the way we fought at home was awesome. We needed this win. We needed it badly, and we got it. I expect us to play that way, especially the way we played in the second half, for the rest of the year. It’s a good feeling.
Q: How bad do you think it (shoulder) is?
A: I don’t know. My expectations are that I am going to be back next week. The good thing is that we have a great athletic training staff, and they’re going to do me right. I am going to do everything that I can to be back next Sunday.
Q: It looked like you landed on it. What exactly happened?
A: I got hit hard on the right side, and I think that the impact against the ground caused it (his shoulder) to come out of place. He hit me pretty hard, but he got out of the game too, so that’s good to hear.
Q: You were having one of your best games. What were you thinking walking off the field?
A: It was frustrating. It wasn’t a good feeling, knowing that I wasn’t able to go. I was going to try to get back in there. The trainers made a smart decision not letting me go. Cassel is doing a great job this year, in practice and in the two games he played. We are going to be in good hands. The way that Adrian (Peterson) was running the ball and what we saw after I left. We saw some good things. We were able to close it out. I’m just happy that we got the win.
Q: What was the difference? The Vikings looked like a completely different team?
A: I don’t honestly know what the difference is. I don’t think that there was a change in mindset. I think that we just played the way that we were supposed to. We executed like an NFL team is supposed to especially as a 10-6 playoff team like we were last year. We really needed that. We needed that to help with our confidence, and now that’s our expectation for the rest of the year.
Q: What was the conversation on the sidelines? Were you trying to get back in?
A: Yeah, I was. At first, I didn’t know what was going on at first. They popped it back into place, and I was able to move it fine. I thought that I could maybe have a chance to go in. There was some pain. It was probably smart for me not to go. I don’t know if I would have been limited or not, but we have a more than capable quarterback in Matt (Cassel) to go out there and win a game for us.
Q: What were you seeing with Jarius?
A: The only thing I saw was Jarius (Wright) jumping up and down, waving his arms on the sideline. When I threw the ball, I was laughing. I saw a guy coming free, but Adrian (Peterson) came across and made the block, but it made me flush. I was looking for anybody, and I saw Jarius jumping up and down. We were able to convert. It was great for Jarius to find that void and get open.
Q: You were laughing?
A: I was. Yeah, it was pretty funny.
Q: Can you talk about John Carlson?
A: John, especially for a guy from Minnesota, stepped up and took advantage of an opportunity. He (had seven) catches for 98 yards and a touchdown. The way that he got in for that score was great. He took advantage of an opportunity and played an exceptional game. For a guy who has battled injury with Seattle, then came here and was injured last year-- never got into a grove—finally he had a great game. That’s what we expected out of him. He’s been an athletic guy. He’s a smart player, and I’m glad he had a great game.
Q: How do you process the last 6 weeks?
A: It’s been an interesting year. That’s for sure. My expectation is to get back and play again next weekend, but for going 0-3 the first three games, then losing the job, getting injured, to come back and lose two more and then come into this game and play, only to get injured. But, winning cures all. Winning is a great feeling. We expect that to continue to happen. The year is far from over.
Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier
Well, I’m sure, like our team and myself, you guys are happy that the Minnesota Vikings got a win at home on a Thursday night. It’s a lot more fun when you get wins in our league and they are hard to come by. So proud of our football team the way they prepared and fought tonight. There were many times during the course of that game when they could have said, “Oh no, here we go again.” And they didn’t. They just kept battling and believing that we were going to get a win and they were determined to make it happen. So extremely proud of every guy that dresses for us and prepares the way they do, so just very thankful for each one of them. Those guys were talking about Jeremiah 29:11, they kept referencing a week ago, so I’ve got to go check that out. You probably saw Christian [Ponder] leave the field with a dislocated shoulder, his left shoulder. I don’t know how it’ll impact our next game. We’ll learn more about it in the days to come. We’ve got a few days before our next game so hopefully it won’t keep him out but we’ll see. The fact that it’s his non-throwing shoulder, it might be a plus. Time will tell. Other than that we came out of the game pretty healthy and a good frame of mind. They go into this mini -bye with a win, which is great for our team.
Q: What about Kevin Williams’ performance with 2.5 sacks?
A: I just found out that it was his first 2-sack game since 2009. It went right over my head. I wouldn’t have been able to guess that. I know he was very focused throughout the week, very disappointed in the way we fell short a week ago and determined to come back and help our team get a win. He’s always like that but you could see he was on edge all week and even before the game. I hope that’s the Fountain of Youth he’s found and we’re going to see it the rest of the season because we definitely need an inside pass rush and we’ve been lacking that, so we need that in a big way for us to be able to do what we want on defense where we rely so much on our front four being able to rush the passer without having to pressure all the time.
Q: What’s the process with Christian and will there be more tests tomorrow?
A: Yes. They’re going to do some more tests just to determine the extent of the shoulder. But yeah, there will be more tests.
Q: What was it that turned things around in the 2nd half? Did you have a good talk to them at halftime?
A: Our coaches really got after the guys about their performance. Alan Williams was really on the defense about tackling and doing what we’ve got to do on 3rd down to rush the passer. He was really very, very matter of fact about things that needed to change. We made a few adjustments to some things that we were doing in the 1st half and our guys responded and we needed it. We were not playing good football in that 1st half and to see the change in 3rd downs and eliminate the points in the 2nd half, that was huge.
Q: What did you see in the demeanor from Christian and how he ran the offense when you guys were down 27-14?
A: I think Christian is really growing. He’s becoming more confident, more in command. He’s growing as a leader, but just the fact that he never got shaken, even after that interception. I’m sure he’ll tell you this, it wasn’t the right decision to throw that football where he threw it. That did not cause him to go in the tank and have self-doubt. He came back and played some of his best football. So he’s growing and maturing as a quarterback.
Q: Do you think his run that resulted in his injury may increase his credibility in the locker room?
A: The sacrifice that he’s made when he runs and makes plays with his legs, it only increases his credibility with his teammates. He’s making plays, getting 3rd-down conversions, sometimes with his feet. Sacrificing his body, when the guys see the tape and most of them couldn’t see it because it was on the far side, but when they see that tape and see that he extended his body the way he did, it’s going to increase their appreciation for who he is as a person and what he means to our team as a quarterback.
Q: What was your thinking when Christian had to leave the game?
A: Next man up. You’re disappointed in Christian, but we’ve still got a game to play, we’ve got to finish this game, we’ve got to win this game. We think we have a capable backup in Matt (Cassel), who was our 2nd quarterback for this ballgame, so it was in Matt’s hand to finish it for us. Disappointed for Christian, but happy with the way that Matt came in and did a good job in that role.
Q: What was your thought process behind the timeouts late in the game?
A: One our guys were getting a little fatigued and if they were to get a score, I wanted us to have a chance to go back and respond. I didn’t want them to run the clock out and us not have a chance on offense. Fortunately for us, because our guys were gassed, they got their breath and made some big stops at the end.
Q: How many guys did you dress tonight? It wasn’t 46 was it?
A: No, we weren’t able to dress 46. I think we had 42 guys with just the quarterbacks. Nine guys didn’t dress.
Q: How were you able to overcome that?
A: You have to credit our coaches and players. It’s easy when you’re playing with backups at some key, key positions to give in on a short week and say, “We’re just going to show up and do the best we can,” but that’s not the attitude they had. They were determined to win this game at home in front of our fans. They had the mindset that they were going to figure out a way to win and Kevin Williams is a great example of that with the (game) he had. But there were definitely some obstacles coming into this ballgame on a short week. Credit those guys, they overcame it.
Q: What about John Carlson stepping up in his performance in the starting role?
A: It’s great to see John step up and play the way he played. We needed it. Kyle [Rudolph] is such a big part of our offense and you lose a lot when you don’t have him on the field, not only as a receiver but a blocker as well. John filled those roles and to be the lead guy and to make the plays that he made, it will increase our confidence in him in some of the things that we’re doing when Kyle does come back. I feel good for John, feel good for our team.
Q: If Christian Ponder isn’t ready to play against Seattle will you go with Matt?
A: We’ll talk about that when we get back. Just want to bask in the glory of this win for a little bit before we think about lineup changes and so on.
Q: What has changed in the past 10 days when you said that Matt really wasn’t even in the mix?
A: Well, when I said in the mix I was talking about starting. That was the question. Who was going to start? And why was Matt not considered as a starter? Now you noticed that Matt was our number two tonight, so it’s a different set of circumstances. We’ll come back and evaluate it and figure out what’s best from the number one standpoint.
Q: Did you notice any reactions of your players after you called timeouts late?
A: Not at all. I’ve learned in my short time as a head coach that you better do it the way you believe in doing it because you don’t have a chance to do this for very long, so you don’t want to have any regrets. Our players, they’re thinking about what they need to think about, but I’ve got to think about the total picture so no big deal.
Q: What was Alan Williams telling the defensive guys? Was he fired up?
A: We was more fired up than I’ve ever seen him. It was good though because we needed it. We needed a kick in the pants. We were not doing the things that we had talked about in this short week, how we needed to defend some of the things they were doing. Our guys responded, so that was good to see.
Q: Did you seen any want in Kevin to perform well after some of the comments he made after the game last week?
A: Kevin plays hard every week, so I’m glad that things worked out for him and how it benefitted our team, but I don’t think what happened last week with him personally and his comments dictated what happened tonight. He plays hard and he wanted to win and play as well as he did for our football team and not to try and make up for last week I don’t think. He’s not that type of person.
Q: Your first punt seemed to be a big stepping stone in getting more of them. Did you notice a change after the first one?
A: We got another one and we got another one so we’re going to do this in the second half of the season. We’re going to make people punt in the second half of the season. That’s the goal.