GREEN BAY, Wisc. –Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer doesn't usually give out game balls immediately after a matchup, but he made an exception Saturday night.
Zimmer tossed the ball to David Morgan, who had his number called during the game and answered in a big way.
When long snapper Kevin McDermott suffered a shoulder injury late in the second quarter and was ruled out for the game, Morgan stepped in.
Morgan used part of halftime to practice snapping to punter Ryan Quigley, and in the third quarter, he snapped on a punt and on a 20-yard field goal. Morgan snapped on two more punts in the fourth quarter and on a 27-yard field goal.
What made the accomplishment especially impressive?
Morgan has never been a long snapper before, and he only started practicing a couple of weeks ago.
Blake Bell was slated as the backup long snapper, but Morgan got handed the duties when Bell was placed on injured reserve following the Panthers game. Morgan said he's been practicing "one or two days a week, maybe five or 10 minutes" at a time.
"It was crazy," Morgan said. "It's just one of those things where you're like, 'OK, I'm just going to practice [in case of the] worst-case scenario,' and then it turns out Kev' went down and needed someone to fill in."
Morgan described the anxiousness he felt before making the first snap.
"I mean, I was, it was new to me – and obviously that's a big part of the game and a lot of things can go wrong, but I just kind of had to step up and do it and get it done," he said matter-of-factly.
Quigley said that he had "no expectations" for Morgan in the sense that he didn't want to pressure him in a naturally high-pressure scenario.
According to Quigley, Morgan's performance was "unbelievable."
"Not only is it tough when that happens in a regular game, but we're talking, it's single digits, we're asking him to come out in a big-time game we need to win, and he was just flawless. There was not one bad snap out there today," Quigley said. "Field goals, too. I mean, people don't understand how tough it is to do punt and field goal, and he did just a phenomenal job.
"Of course I know he's good and he's capable, but it's a tough task to ask anybody to come in there and do that in that kind of game, that kind of weather," Quigley added. "He did a great job, Kai did a great job kicking, and I had the easy part, just putting it down."
McDermott had nothing but good things to say about Morgan following the game.
The long snapper called Morgan's performance a "testament" to the work he's put in with the specialists over the past two weeks.
"He did a fantastic job. Not only is it difficult to do that job on its own, but he was getting a lot of snaps on offense," McDermott said. "So you saw him playing an offensive down on third down, 'It's fourth, I'm taking my gloves off and I'm getting to the sidelines and then getting down and snapping the ball.' I'm so proud of him."
McDermott watched nearly the entire second half of the game from the sidelines and said he made himself available to Morgan if needed.
"I was able to be kind of like a cheerleader on the sidelines and just, if he had any questions or if there was anything that he needed to know scheme-wise, I was there to fill in him."
McDermott added with a smile: "But he didn't need my help."
Morgan also flashed for the Vikings on offense, including on a huge third-down conversion.
After a penalty placed Minnesota in a third-and-13 situation, Case Keenum scrambled until he found a target and made the toss to Morgan, who was initially tripped up but kept his footing, dodged defenders and rumbled for 23 yards.
"He did a great job. He had a protection assignment on that play and then was going to check to the flat," Keenum said. "As I was scrambling around, I think I heard him yelling at me. I don't know if it was him or someone else, but yeah, he kind of flashed across my vision and I dumped it off to him.
"I think he dragged a guy across the first down marker, so it was a great job by him," Keenum added. "He had a heck of a game tonight."
Morgan said he was well aware of the way that Keenum has extended plays this season.
"Case has been great keeping plays alive with his feet, and it was a play-action I was in protection on, [and the play] got kind of busted," Morgan said. "I mean, Case was looking for somebody, so I had to just kind of let my guy go in hopes of getting open, and he saw me and we just kind of made something happen."
Added Morgan: "I had some great blocks from the receivers downfield, so I just got a first down and rolled with it."
Morgan finished the night with two catches for 26 yards. He snapped in place of McDermott a total of five times: three punts in addition to the pair of Forbath field goals.
Harrison Smith, who snagged two interceptions and helped Minnesota's defense with a shutout of Green Bay, chimed in on Morgan, as well.
"We had a lot of guys kind of step in and do some great things," Smith said. "Morgan playing long snapper, making plays on offense, making blocks … that's a football player right there."
Four of the many fans wearing Vikings Purple at Lambeau Field were cheering especially loud for Morgan.
The tight end's parents, sister and girlfriend all were attendance for the Vikings win.
More Jobs the Merrier for David Morgan
Morgan said his family made the drive up to Green Bay last season and decided to make a tradition of it.
"They came up here, they made the drive, so I'm glad that they were there for that," Morgan said.