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Postgame Quotes: Lions at Vikings

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer

Okay. Tough one to lose today. I thought that we did some good things on both sides. Obviously we weren't good enough on the 3rd downs defensively. For the first time in three weeks this team really fought like I expect them to fight. We'll continue to do these kind of things and we'll win football games. I thought offensively we were efficient. I thought we did a nice job of mixing things up. In order to do some things you have to obviously make some kicks, protect for the field goal. We'll continue to move forward. I think there was a lot of some encouraging things so, questions?

Q: Third down defense has been good. Was it the injuries or what they were doing to you?

A: You know it's hard for me to remember all of them but there were a couple that they made some good catches on. Early in the first half, in the first half (Captain) Munnerlyn went out so you know, we weren't very good at the nickel spot. Now we put (Terence) Newman in there, he was much better the rest of the game. Just have to keep looking at it.

Q: Was it a protection issue or a line drive on the blocked field goal?

A: I couldn't tell you to be honest with you.

Q: Was there confusion on the timeout taken with 28 seconds left?

A: Well I thought about all those, but there was no confusion in the play call. I was trying to let the clock run down a little bit. I knew we still had another timeout left and if we didn't score then I was going to let it run down a little bit if it was going to be the end of the ball game.

Q: Did they surprise you with their ability to run from the spread?

A: No not really. They hit us on one on a trap early in the ball game on 3rd down, I don't know how many yards was it, 40-50 yards. It's really one play. 

Q: Where do you stand now with Blair Walsh?

A: I don't know, we'll see. I'm not going to make any evaluations right now. Today's not the day to be making any evaluations.

Q: Was the one that was blocked low?

A: I don't know.

Q: If you had more confidence in Blair Walsh would you have kicked the field goal on 4th down?

A: You know what it was 4th and about 6 inches and I felt like our offense continues to need confidence as they move forward. And yes it did factor in that he missed an extra point in there, but that really wasn't it. I was prepared to get a field goal but it was so close that I figured, and points for us are hard to come by, at least they were in the beginning of the ball game.

Q: Did you consider challenging on the 4th down spot as well?

A: I did but you know, he came over and told me on the one before there's so many bodies in there they can't really see with that view.

Q: How do you feel about the new wrinkles Pat Shurmur put in on the offense?

A: I thought they had a good rhythm today with some of the things that they've done. I thought we had a good mixture of different things that we did as far as protections, quicks, movement passes in the pocket.* *

Q: How do you weigh rushing the passer versus playing prevent defense on their final drive of regulation?

A: That's probably the thing I regret the most. There's 27 seconds left, they have no timeouts. Even a 60-yard field goal is a long ways to go. If I had to do it all over again, I would probably rush four and try and get it that way. He scrambled around and made a play, that's how it goes.      

Q: How disappointing was it to not get any points off of Chad Greenway's interception?

A: Yeah, probably the most disappointing thing is we took the sack on third down to get us out of field goal range. Once you have those opportunities, you've got the ball in there, you can't take any sacks. That was one of the worst plays.

Q: Do you still feel good about the defense?

A: Yeah, I do. I think for the most part they played pretty good all day today. What was the score? 16-16? Got a chance with 27 seconds16-13, yeah I feel pretty good about it.

Q: What did you see on the Lions' game-winning touchdown?

A: Yeah, well we didn't wrap up in the beginning of the first half very good either. I had to remind them at halftime. That was one of the things we didn't do good today defensively. We didn't wrap enough.* *

Q: When you say 'they fought the way you wanted', does that give you hope?

A: It's hard to feel good after a loss but today we looked like we have in the past. Now we didn't get it done today but we fought. We came back from a deficit. We did the things that  this team typically does. Obviously, we didn't get it done and there's no guarantees but I'd rather go into a fight with these guys the way they were today than the last couple weeks.   

Q: Did Ronnie Hillman give you a spark offensively?

A: I thought he did some good things, yes.

Q: What does he provide the offense?

A: He's a different type of back and he's got some speed to the perimeter. I thought he did some good things. I thought we did some good things blocking today as well. Yeah, it helps.

Q: Have offenses game-planned to reduce the pressure on the quarterback?

A: Yeah, they always do. We pressured quite a bit, we just didn't get him on the ground. That's nothing new. That's one of the first things I do each week is worry about the protection.  

Q: What lead to Laquon Treadwell getting into the game?

A: It's about time he started getting some plays.

Q: How did the offensive line play only giving up 2 sacks?

A: No, that shouldn't be a goal, not to get sacked as much as the other previous games. I thought they did some good things. I thought they fought well. I thought we handled some of the things that they did. They were blitzing a lot, similar to what Philadelphia did. I thought for Boone not being in there and those other guys, we did some good things.  

Q: Did Treadwell earn that opportunity or was it just a matter of time?

A: Both.

 Vikings Quarterback Sam Bradford

Q: How did you think the offense perform after the offensive coordinator switch?

A: I thought we did some good things, but we have to find a way to score more points. That's what it comes down to at the end of the day. But, I thought we put together some nice drives especially the drive at the end of the game. I thought that was a real positive. I thought that was something we can build on going forward.

Q: What has held you back in the red zone?

A: I'm not sure. I'd have to go back. I think off the top of my head it's a variety of things. You know we get down there today, I think we had a couple of penalties which are crucial when you get down there. It set us behind, but when we get down there we've got to find a way to get the ball in the end zone.

Q: After getting one game under your belt, what's different with Pat Shurmur?

A: This week I think the game plan was fairly set in place by the time Pat took over. But, it'll be interesting to see how we go moving forward and how things will change. I thought Pat did a good job today just keeping it relatively simple. Getting the ball out quick, getting it to our guys in space and then trying to let them create on the perimeter.

Q: But, we did see some new wrinkles from the offense like the play from Rhett Ellison on the goal line?

A: Yeah, obviously I think every week we try to add some new wrinkles and we felt good about the play to Rhett. It's nice to get it called and execute the way we did.  

Q: How did you feel you guys did against their pressure?

A: I thought we did a really good job. I thought those guys up front did a really good job today. Given what's happened the past few weeks, for them to come out and play the way they did, I think it shows a lot about their character. I was really proud of those guys. They really battled all day especially on that last drive, just giving me time to complete some of those passes. Also, to get the run game going the way we did at times in the second half. So, I couldn't be more proud of those guys up front.

Q: Was there any thought to score later on in that drive and take away more time?

A: I think initially your thought was just to score. Then when it came down to the end of the game, hindsight is always 20/20, but I think the most important thing was to get the ball in the end zone. That was goal number one.* *

Q: Did you think after the final touchdown the game was over at that point?

A: I thought we had a good chance to win the football game. In this league, it's never over until the clock hits zero. But, like I said I thought it was a great drive by our guys. It was a great response. I was really proud by how we were able to go down there and get a touchdown.* *

Q: Is it kind of deflating to lose the game like did after taking the lead late in the game?

A: Yeah, I think all losses in this league are hard regardless of how you lose. To lose the way we did today was tough.

Q: Is it hard to have your first career reception in a loss?

A: Was that my first one? Then I guess so. That's a little bit of a bummer. * *

Q: What happened on that play?

A: Well it just got batted up at the line and I saw it in the air. Usually it's not a good thing when the ball's just floating in the air above the line of scrimmage, so I just went and got it.

Q: Do you think the offense took some steps forward?

A: Like I said, I think we did some really good things out there today. I think there was some positives, but at the end of day we've got to find a way to score more points.

Q: When you lose three in a row how do you keep it from spiraling after that?

A: Each week is a new week. Whether you've won three in a row or lost three in a row. Either way it doesn't matter. When we go play Washington next week, they don't really care if we've lost three in a row or won three in a row. We've got to go out there, we've got to earn it and we've got to play well. So, you just keep moving. It's a week-to-week league regardless of whether you're high or low. You keep going.

Q: Do you think the pressure starts to mount a bit here?

A: Not really. Like I said, I think there's pressure every week regardless of what you've done in past weeks, regardless of what you've done previously. It doesn't matter.  

Q: What did you think of Linval Joseph in the backfield?

A: It was good. I think it was nice. Hopefully we can hand him the ball and let him run it in.

Vikings Linebacker Anthony Barr

Q: What are your thoughts on the touchdown the Lions scored to win?

A: Our guys make that play nine out of 10 times, so it happens in this league. They are professionals too, they're going to make plays and they made more than us today.

Q: How devastating was this loss for the big picture?

A: It's tough, I wouldn't say devastating. I think everyone is going to overreact, just like usual. It's another loss, three in a row, obviously we're struggling and we need to find a way out. We're not devastated, we're not panicking, we understand we had an opportunity to win the game. It's not like we got blown out, it's not like we didn't fight, we played hard and I think we played well enough to win, but we just didn't do it. We just have to win next time.

Q: They were very efficient on third down, what happened out there?

A: They were just blocking it up good and getting the ball to the receivers. We had three or four penalties on third down and that's going to cost you. We just have to be better.

Q: The missed tackles are pretty uncharacteristic of this team, why has this become a problem?

A: We just have to go and make the play, it's as simple as that. We're going to make tackles, we're going to miss tackles. You have to make the play when it comes your way. I had my fair share today.

Vikings Wide Receiver Adam Thielen

Q: What are your thoughts after seeing this game slip through your hands?

A: It's tough. Anytime you lose a game it's not easy. You think about plays where you could have done better to help this team win the game. As an offense, we could have started faster to help our defense out. Our defense has had our back a lot this season, so we need to help them out.

Q: After punting when starting in the red zone, what was said to change things?

A: I think Sam [Bradford] just pulled us aside and said, "Hey, we're way better than this." Really, those are the situations that win and lose games, and you have to come away with points and you have to come away with touchdowns when you're in the red zone.

Q: What did it mean for the offense to be getting the ball out as fast as Sam was today?

A: It was good, and it was good that we were moving the ball. I think that obviously Sam was doing a good job of giving guys opportunities to run after the catch.

Q: What do you think about the strides you guys made on offense in Coach Shurmur's first game, with new wrinkles being thrown in?

A: I'll have to look at the film, it's tough to say right now. We moved the ball in the situations that we needed to, but at the same time we needed to start faster to take pressure off our defense.

Vikings Guard Brandon Fusco

Q: So where do you guys go from here?

A: I think we just build on what we did today. I think we did some good things, but like I said it wasn't good enough. On fourth and one, that's a missed opportunity there, and red zone penalties and sacks, missed opportunities there. 

Q: Where do you feel you made strides on offense with Pat Shurmur making his debut?

A: We got in a little bit of a rhythm. We got the ball moving and got some first downs. The possession time was up there I felt like. I felt like we did some good things that way, but like I said, we just didn't do enough to win.

Q: How did you feel about Linval Joseph in the backfield?

A: He's a big physical guy, it's nice to have him back there on offense.

Q: On Rhett Ellison's touchdown, did your heart fall when you saw the ball fly out?

A: My heart did fall, but I felt like he was in, so once I looked up and saw the replay I was relieved.

Q: What do you think the key was to getting the rhythm going today?

A: I think we got the ball out quick, we did a lot of quick stuff. We were better in the run game, even though it wasn't where we wanted it to be, but I felt like we got some yards there. We maintained possession of the ball and got first downs, and didn't allow our defense to be out there too long.

Q: What did you like about how Ronnie Hillman ran today?

A: He's a great player, I'm glad he's on our team. He knows the playbook, and he's been in situations in games like this, so it was nice to see him get the ball.

Q: What did Sam Bradford show you on that final drive?

A: His toughness. He's a veteran and he's been in that situation before. He kept pep talking us and getting us through the game. It's just unfortunate we lost that game, it was a hard fought game.

Q: What can you say about the fourth and one at the five-yard line?

A: There's no excuse. If we can't get a couple inches, it sucks. I can't put my finger on what happened, I'll have to get back and see what happened. But there's no excuse for that.

Vikings Kicker Blair Walsh

Q: Can you explained what happened on those kicks?

A: They just did not go in. You watched it.

Q: Did the extra point feel good? Was it shocking to see it hit the upright?

A: Obviously not. It did not go in right? You can ask me this question a million times, did it feel good? Did I make it? No I did not. Do I have to? Yes. Do I want to? Yes.

Q: What did you see on that ball that got blocked?

A: I probably did not hit it well enough. I mean you can never know until you watch film, but I probably did not hit it well enough, and did not get over the line, so that is my fault and I need to come through for my team there.

Q: Did you think it was low on the block?

A: It is hard to tell but that would be my guess.

Q: You are frustrated with us asking you these questions, but what is it that is frustrating you?

A: It is not that I am frustrated, but you guys have to understand, what do you want the answer to be? I want to be there for my team, of course I do, but come on, you ask the same question every week. Did you make it? Why did it not go in? If I had the answer right away, I would tell you. I am confident in what I am doing, and I know I am going to be fine, but it is tough right now.

Vikings Linebacker Chad Greenway

Q: What do you think of your interception and your team's failure to score after the turnover?

A: It was just a play in the game. At this point it doesn't matter. Those things just fall to the wayside and you have to go get the win in that situation. We're so frustrated with not getting the win.

Q: Can you speak of your frustrations?

A: In the NFL your success is completely derived from your ability to bounce back. (Stuff) is going to happen. It's the NFL. Everyone is good; it doesn't matter who you play. You're never judged on one game. That's the beauty of it. At the same time you have to win games. Our success moving forward is all going to be in regard to our ability to move forward. It sucks. We lost. Nobody wanted to have that happen today. We didn't make enough plays. They made more plays than we did. We have to move forward after this. We don't think about it. It's a one week business and we have to find the ability to move forward. We played better today, but we didn't win.

Q: The defense played well until late, what needs to happen?

A: The reality is we just didn't play well enough. It doesn't matter what we did, we didn't win.

Vikings Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn

Q: Where do you think the confidence of this team is at right now?

A: We're kind of shot right now. We have to get better on both sides of the ball, special teams. We have to see where we are going from here. We are definitely [going to] see what this team is made of now. We've dropped three in a row. We have a long season still, all of our goals still ahead of us. We have to see what's going on from there.

Q: What didn't allow you to win the game?

A: We didn't play well on both sides and special teams. And as a team, when it counted the most, defensively (the Lions) made plays and we didn't. We had some penalties and those guys executed and we didn't.

Q: How did they march down the field for the game tying field goal with 23 seconds left?

A: It happens. It's the NFL. Those guys get paid too. But at the same time I trust and believe in the guys in this locker room. Defensively, we have to get off the field.

Q: What happened when you hurt your foot?

A: I wish it was just my foot. It was on a screen play and I shot the screen. I got bent up. I think it was [Eric] Ebron the tight end, made a great block on me. Golden [Tate] had the ball and he cut back. I felt fine at first.

Vikings Defensive End Everson Griffen

Q: After that Rhett Ellison touchdown, what happened on that drive to allow them to get into field goal range?

A: They were able to make some big plays on us. We need to tackle better. We need to do a lot of things better. They won the game, hats off to them. Now we need to find a way to get back. Whatever we have to do, we have to find a way.

Q: You want the game in your hands, you had it a couple of times. It is uncharacteristic of you to allow big plays like that.

A: We just need to find a way to play better. They made some good plays and we just need to find a way to play better.

Q: You guys had four three and outs. How tough is it when they had those two long drives?

A: Penalties. There were a lot of penalties on both sides of the ball. Especially on our side, there were a lot of penalties. We just need to find a way to play better.

Vikings Safety Harrison Smith

Q: With the game in your hands twice, usually you think you're going to walk away with a victory.

A: I agree.

Q: That 17 play drive to end the second quarter, was that a matter of not getting off the field on third down?

A: There were some injuries there so we had to do things on the fly.

Q: You see Xavier Rhodes go for the big hit on Golden Tate, did you think you had him wrapped up? Was it the stiff arm the one that did it?

A: I just have to make the tackle. It's not like we're all fresh out there and feeling great at the end of overtime. We have to fight through it.

Q: What do you think the mindset of this team is?

A: I don't know. We'll find out tomorrow.

Q: The 27- yard pass to set up the tying field goal, what were you seeing there?

A: I don't know exactly what happened. I was in a different area.

Vikings Tackle Jake Long

Q: How much do those plays stand out? Plays in the red zone and fourth and one.

A: We have to take pride in that, and we do take pride in getting those fourth and ones and scoring in the red zone, but we did not get those today, so we have got to get those better.

Q: Do you feel like the offense had a better rhythm overall?

A: Yeah, I mean we did some good things. We were moving the ball well, but we shot ourselves in the foot a few too many times.

Q: Are you focusing on tempo change?

A: We have had that emphasis since I have been here, so we just used it a little more today. 

Q: What was it like fourth and one and within inches?

A: It was tough. We have to get that. It was on us. It was a huge momentum shift and we have to get that and get better at it.

Q: When the Lions were in the red zone and they ended up punting, was it Sam Bradford who turned you guys around?

A: Yeah, Sam is a leader on our offense, and like I said before, we shot ourselves in the foot too many times in the red zone, and we all know that. We have to get better at it.

Vikings Tight End Kyle Rudolph

Q: How do you describe the game?

A:  It did not go our way, but as an offense we have to go out there and win that game. We moved the ball enough to do it, but we just did not get the points. We kept shooting ourselves in the foot.

Q: Was this uncharacteristic of the team?

A: Yeah, that is something Coach Zimmer has preached since he got here. If you don't beat yourself you will win most of your games, and then find a way to win the rest of them. We beat ourselves today. We got to give credit to the Lions and their offense, defense and special teams. We fought, and it is great to see the fight, but we beat ourselves. Offensively stalling drives. I think we could have scored at least one or two more times and get the game out of reach. Sometimes as an offense we are going to have to go out there and win the game.

Q: Is this the hardest loss to swallow?

A: Yeah definitely, each week is as important as the next. It was big for us to get back on the right track. There are encouraging things to take from this, we did move the ball up and down the field. We just cannot stall drives with penalties, and we've got to score more points.

Q: Was this encouraging with the offensive coordinator shifting midweek?

A: Yeah, I thought it was great. We moved the ball great up and down the field and Pat Shurmur made great calls that put us in situations to be successful. We just cannot shoot ourselves in the foot. We are in a great spot, second-and-five on the 20 and we go backwards and backwards again, and then do not get any points out of the drive. Those are things we've got to clean up to get back on track. 

Q: How do you feel about the new wrinkles with Pat Shurmur? With Rhett Ellison's touchdown and Linval Joseph in the backfield?

A: Yeah they are things we are going to have to do to win games. The days of just lining up and beating people are not as easy, so we have things like that that are going to catch people off guard. Rhett Ellison made a great effort and got in.

Vikings Tight End Rhett Ellison

Q: What was the feeling like towards the end of that game?

A: It was exciting but a very tough team loss.

*Q: You scored a touchdown late in this game, talk about that play. *

A: It was a schemed play. They didn't see it coming, so it worked out.

Q: Was that a play that had been in the playbook for a couple of weeks, or was this a new play?

A: It was a new play.

Q: What can you take away from a loss like this?

A: The fight and the heart are there. These are the games that hurt the most because you put your heart out there on both sides of the ball. It's a tough team loss but it's part of the game.

Vikings Running Back Ronnie Hillman

*Q: The ways things shook out with the offensive coordinator change, it didn't seem to rattle you guys too much.  *

A: No, I mean Pat did a great job coming in. We are going to keep it simple and play football. We have to go in next week and improve on what we did this week.  

Q: How stunned were you losing at the end of this game?

A: Whenever you lose like that, it is pretty stunning. You always want to win and it sucks going out like that. But it happens, and we have to come back and reboot come next week.   

Q: I know it is frustrating when you guys do not come out with a win, what were you thinking after that second half coming off of a slow start?

A: I think we just played simple this week. We need to take the positive of what we did do and fix what we didn't. We just need to improve.

Q: You had to carry some of the load, and did well when you had the ball

A: Like I said, my main focus is to contribute to the team when I am in. That is what I did, and unfortunately it was not enough. Next week I need to bring more. You have to start somewhere. Right now we cannot put our heads down.

Q: When you guys were game planning, did you get a sense

A: I practice every day like I am going to get the ball. It is kind of hard to tell. Just need to prepare for when your number gets called 

Q: Was your heart racing when Ellison scored and then you saw the ball go flying?

A: Oh man, I am pretty sure I had the same emotion as everyone in that stadium did. It was a touchdown and sometimes it happens. 

Vikings Wide Receiver Stefon Diggs

Q: Was the game plan very different offensively? Obviously there was a quicker rhythm and a different mix of players out there.

A: Just a lot of people getting involved, a lot of guys who can play at a high level as you can see. Everybody is getting their piece of the pie.

Q: Keeping everyone's confidence up is a big part of where you're at right now. You've been through this stuff for a couple of weeks, what's the key to staying positive and staying confident?

A: Just knowing that everything isn't going to shake out your way, especially in the game of football. You have ups and you have downs, everybody will hop off the bandwagon after games like that. But we're still a team, we're still going to fight, we're still going to go in tomorrow, watch the tape, correct the little things and try to get better.

Q: What did you guys see today in Detroit's defense that allowed you guys to be successful?

A: Just the same things that we watch on film and prepare for throughout the week. It's the stuff that we work at, there was no big differences other than just working at it and trying to hit the things we worked on in practice.

Q:  It seemed like you guys were still moving the ball pretty well down the field. I know it was a tough loss, but is that a positive thing for you guys to be furthering that connection with Sam Bradford?

A: Definitely, I mean he plays quarterback so to get him in a rhythm and get him going is important. As far as the game, you know it didn't go how we wanted it to go, but you take the positives and negatives, grow from them, and move forward. Things should have gone how we wanted them to, but we got it next week.

Q: After you guys hustle down there and take the lead, and your offense doesn't even get back on the field, how hard is it to come out with a loss?

A: It's tough, but we have to look at the things that we didn't do right and the things that we did do right and move on. We didn't get another opportunity, but maybe if we capitalized on some of the earlier drives, I know I had an early drop, that probably could have put us in a better position. Everybody just has to do their part, and looking back needs to be a harsh critic.

Q: How hard is it to get to the red zone a couple times and not punch through?

A: Things don't happen the way you want them to all the time. I have 100% faith in my guys all the time, and I know they have faith in me, so I'm out there fighting for them.

Vikings Cornerback Terence Newman

Q: Besides Detroit breaking through a few times, do you feel like overall you guys did your job today?

A: I would have to give them credit where they executed and what they had to do to get points on the board. The last field goal to send it into overtime, obviously we thought we had what we needed, but we did not execute the play very well and they did. In overtime, they made some plays, kept drives alive, and they had a little momentum and it kind of shifted. You could see throughout the game, it shifted back and forth and it ended in their hands.

Q: How was it after a 19- play drive, and a 13- play drive, to stay sharp?

A: That is our job. We practiced through training camp, and OTAs. We prepare for this, but we just have to prepare better. At the end of the day, that is what you have got to say and I am not making excuses, but they executed better than we did.

Q: How tough were some of those third downs that they converted?

A: They were pretty tough because we lost the game. That is pretty much how we lost the game, so we have to find something out. We have to get back to the drawing board and figure out how we can get better on all three aspects; offense, defense and special teams. We left points out. We gave some points away. Like I said, they executed, and you cannot take anything away from them.

Vikings Cornerback Xavier Rhodes

Q: Were you trying to go for a big hit to try to knock the ball out?

A: I just missed the tackle. No matter how I missed or how I was aiming, I just missed it, simple as that.

Q: Can you talk about the pass interference call?

A: I guessed a route and he ran a different route, that's what it is.

Q: The defense had the game in it's hands a couple times at the end. What happened at the end?

A: Like I said, it was pass interference and a missed tackle that gave them the game.

Q: What is the biggest thing you as a defensive unit need to improve on first and foremost?

A: Missed tackles. We missed a lot of tackles, big tackles. We have to correct our technique and do the right thing.

Q: Early on, when you were winning, the perception was that the defense bailed out the offense. Today, the offense was better but the defense faltered. Do you feel extra bad about the loss today?

A: I feel bad because we lost. Next question.

Q: The 17- play drive at the end of the first half, was that attributed to them converting on 3rd down?

A: We just have to get off the field. That's all. Execute the call and make a play on the ball.

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