Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
It was a good team win today. I thought we played exceptionally on defense, the two goal line stands and we did a good job in field position most of the day with special teams. Offensively we started fast and then we ended up messing up a little bit, getting some penalties so those are some things we need to clean up but Latavius [Murray] ran for 100 yards, they had a big physical front. Offensive line had some new pieces in there and I thought they did a good job of moving in and I'm proud of this team. 13 wins is hard to get, it's hard to get. We're looking forward to getting some work done this week, taking a little bit of rest and get back here in front of our fans for the divisional round of the playoffs.
Q: After that offsides by Danielle Hunter and stopping them on the goal line, does that kind of wrap up where this defense is and where they're going?
A: Well we can't do that, number one. We've played really well recently these last few weeks we've played really, really well. Defensively we have a lot of good players. They understand this system and what their responsibility is and they play very, very hard. They've got this little edge on them right now that they don't want to give an inch and the first half they didn't give much. They hit a couple throws on us in the second half, I could of done a better job of calling coverages, but yeah these guys, they work. It's not about one guy, it's about the team.
Q: How big of an advantage is it to have that bye and rest up?
A: It's big. The last five years in the NFC, one of the two teams that had the bye represented the NFC in the Super Bowl. So it's big. How'd you like that one? I didn't know if I should say it or not, I used it with the team the other night.
Q: How do you think Joe Berger did at center and how did the offensive line play with a tough Bears defensive front?
A: They were coming with a lot of 0 blitzes, so they had some extra guys they were bringing on the pass rush, but I thought we did a good job of knocking them off, the ball but creating seams and being able to get in there. Their defense is very good, I think they're 8th in the League or something, 5th in points against and they've got some big, stud guys up front. They do a good job, they don't give up big plays, I mentioned that during the week, they don't give up big plays. They're 3rd in the League in 20 plus yard plays. You just have to go the long haul way and if you have penalties, like we did in some certain situations, you're against the 8 ball. They're going to get back in their soft coverages and you know what was big was that drive in the second half when we scored was big. We were 2nd and 20 or something and we got two throws to [David] Morgan I think, another throw to [Adam] Thielen. That was big.
Q: What went into the decision to use Aviante Collins as much as you did?
A: Well Kyle Rudolph was a little banged up so we were a little thin at tight end and it was just another way to get another blocker in there; sometimes pass protection, sometimes run. Just kind of to ease the burden off of some of these other tight ends.
Q: With Kyle Rudolph banged up, how much did it help to have David Morgan make the contributions that he did?
A: Yeah it was great. David has done that all year long. When he's had the opportunities he's come in and been able to help. He had some nice plays today. There's still some things he missed and he needs to work on like all of us but yeah, he did good.
Q: With several guys on the offensive line in different spots how do you think they played?
A: Yeah I think I just said that but I think they did good. You know moving to different spots, [Mike] Remmers was playing guard, [Joe] Berger was playing center, [Jeremiah] Sirles was playing left guard, [Rashod] Hill was at right tackle. So you know, it was just a little bit of moving parts that we had to do today to get us managed through here to this divisional round.* *
Q: You set the single-season third down defense record today, what makes that so special?
A: We've got good players. When corners can cover and safeties can blitz and pressure, linebackers can blitz and cover, defensive line can rush. It's important. We spend an awful lot of time at it. I don't think we do anything fancy, we've just got good players.
Q: How do you feel about the team leading the league in scoring defense?
A: It's good. It's a heck of an achievement for our guys. You can't do that if your offense isn't running the football and controlling the ball. You can't do that if your defense is out there all the time. It's a nice stat for the defense and these guys take a lot of pride in it. It's about the team. It's overall, so whatever records the defense sets or the offense sets, it's about everybody.
Q: Does Latavius Murray give you another dimension down near the goal line?
A: He's been good in his career inside the 10-yard line. Again, he did that again today. You get in there and there's a lot of bodies, you get a bigger guy in there and he can lower his pads and bring his big rear end and legs with him and drive it in there. He did get some help today, a couple of our guys helped shove him in there. That's part of it too.
Q: Do you believe in the curse?
A: I don't know, I don't think there's any curse. I've got a crystal ball and I've got a wood spirit hanging in my office. So, there's no damn curse.
Q: How will the coaching staff approach this next week off?
A: We'll know tonight when we'll play, we don't know who we play, obviously, until next Sunday. We're going to get back to work, Monday, players are going to come in tomorrow. We're going to do some self-scouting as a coaching staff. Then, Tuesday and Wednesday we're going to work on some things that I think we need to get better at. Then, I'm going to give them some time off and we'll bring them back and get ready to go.
Q: Is there any sense that good fortune has gone your way this season?
A: I don't know, maybe lightning is going to strike.
Q: How did Case Keenum perform today and this season as a whole?
A: Well, I think he's had a great year. I think he was a little up and down today, there was some things he missed. He made some good throws and big plays. I think the throw to [Stefon] Diggs was a heck of a throw for the touchdown. He found Morgan on those two, he was under duress but a lot of it was because it was a zero-blitz. There was some other things involved there that we should've got to, probably. I thought he's handled himself well all year long. I expect it to be the same way as we move forward here into the divisional round.
Q: Adam Thielen finished in the Top-10 in receiving yards in a season by a Viking, what has helped him reach that level?
A: Well, I think Pat [Shurmur] has done a great job of getting guys in position. Quite honestly, we don't go into games saying, 'Hey, Thielen is our guy today.' It's whoever has the opportunities, get it. Sometimes it's [Stefon] Diggs, sometimes it's Thielen, sometimes it's [Kyle] Rudolph. I think it's a combination of things. But to speak on Adam, he's a great kid, a great competitor, loves to play the game. Really, we have a lot of guys like that on this football team. It's a credit to Rick [Spielman], the kind of guys he brings in here. Guys that are competitors, they love to compete, and good guys. I had very, very few discipline issues with this football team. They just know how to do the right thing and know what's expected of them and they do it. If they don't come in here the right way, it's hard to change them. Adam is an unbelievable person and a great competitor. He continues to get better each and every week and year.
*Vikings Quarterback Case Keenum *
Q: Besides the scoreboard, do you measure offensive success on not turning the ball over?
A: It's hard to say besides the scoreboard. That's ultra. That's everything that matters there. I think turnovers are one of the most important, if not the most important, part of the scoreboard. I mean it directly reflects. You look at it week in and week out every game in this league; there's points off turnovers and those are big swings in games.
Q: In your experience in the NFL, what makes this team so special?
A: There's a lot of things. I think it's every guy that's in that locker room right now. Every coach that's in there. It's all those people put together and we not only respect each other, but we like each other too. And I think that goes a long way. Outside of the Xs and Os, we fight for each other and I think you go up and down the row in there and everybody feels the same. I think that's pretty rare.
Q: What have you appreciated the most playing under Pat Shurmur?
A: Pat does a great job calling the game. He does a great job keeping the quarterback, me, out of bad situations, and I think as a quarterback, that's comforting when every play call you hear coming in you're like, "Okay, let's go". There's never one you're like, "Ugh", so I've got complete trust in him. He does a great job putting together the game plan. The coaches do a great job every week and we're looking forward to putting our stamp on this postseason.
Q: With a defense as good as you guys have, what is the key to sustaining drives on the offensive side of the ball?
A: There's a lot of keys. I think turnovers is one we talked about. I think playing smart football, playing complimentary football and knowing when to take shots, when to check it down, and even knowing when to eat it sometimes and take a sack. If you end every drive with a kick, whether it's a field goal, extra point, or punt, you're doing pretty good.
Q: It seems like your defense shows something more each week and gets better and better. What can you say about your defense this year?
A: They're awesome. And I don't know what else to say; besides what I've been saying. They play extremely well and it's comforting to know if we do have to have to punt or not have success on offense that those guys are doing their jobs. But with that being said, I think we have a week ahead of us that I think we can fine tune some of those shots that we missed. Some of those little things, details that we can get ironed out and be ready to put up some more points in the postseason.
Q: Can you put your season in perspective?
A: I'm going to wait until after the year to put everything in perspective. Definitely right now enjoying this win, enjoying the season. 13-3 has a nice ring to it. At the same time, we have a lot ahead of us and we're really excited about what is coming up.
Q: What is your sense of where this offense is right now as far as the progress and momentum heading into the playoffs?
A: We've plugged some different guys in different positions. I think guys have done well adjusting. I think there's more out there for us. I think we're all still hungry. Every position group is hungry and knows that we can play better. We are going to hit the ground stone, take a week to recover. It's not an off week. It's a bye and that means we are going to reload and not just rest.
Q: What are some of those key things you want to see improvement on?
A: Well, for one I think we hurt ourselves today with some penalties, negative plays. A few shots that we've missed that we normally hit. Just being a tick off here and there. We have to be better on third downs. We punched it in a few times today when we got down to the red zone which is good, but we have to keep improving on that.
Q: Do you have to be more subdued in the locker room and laser focused because it's win or go home from this point out because the things that you wanted are in grasp?
A: Yes, I think the same mindset we've had. Taking it a week at a time. Everybody knows the importance of what is going on. We are going to give this thing everything we've got. We're excited to play at home. This place is crazy hard for teams to come in and play, especially with our defense, like we talked about earlier. I'm excited. I think this place is going to be rocking. I think all of Minnesota is pretty excited, too.
Q: With an extra offensive linemen out there, what does that do for an offense when you have that package in there?
A: We threw the ball out of it a few times today so we have a good mix. We may not have had certain play calls, the defense giving us opportunities to run the ball, so we check to runs or whatever the situation may be. It's a good package to have and we've got linemen that can do it. [Aviante Collins] came in and did a good job today. If somebody goes down, it's good to have another option. I think the coaches did a great job game planning with that.
Vikings Defensive End Danielle Hunter
Q: How big is the first round bye?
A: It's definitely a big deal. We have home field advantage with the crowd being as loud as they are. That's definitely something that can help us out.
Q: How confident is this defense right now?
A: We're very confident. We go out there; we don't try and do too much. We do our jobs so that's something.
Q: The defense seems in sync at this point.
A: Definitely, each position depends on the other positions to do their job and when we're rushing we are depending on the back end to cover their guys and they depend on to rush the passer.
Q: What will you do this week before you find out who you play next?
A: We are going to go in there and work on the little things just to get better and keep on mastering our craft of what to do.
Q: On the safety did you expect Trubisky to flick the ball away?
A: That was unexpected, like who was he throwing to? He tossed it like he was scared or something.
Q: Do you blame him for tossing it away?
A: No, that's a safety, two points.
Q: Thoughts on your off sides penalty followed by a goal line stand?
A: I was trying to jump the snap. It was a mistake and coach got on me about it, but I shouldn't be doing that. We go out there and our goal is to stop them from going in the end zone so that was our mindset.
Q: At you at where you need to be for the playoffs?
A: It's coming to the end of the season and everyone is coming where they need to be focusing on their jobs and all that. Something that we expect from everybody.
Q: Brian Robison mentioned that on your goal line stand you guys never get rattled, is that the best compliment a teammate can give you?
A: Definitely, you could see at the end I jumped offsides. We're like. "Okay let's get together and stop these guys from scoring." So that's a perfect example of what he just said.
Vikings Safety Harrison Smith
Q: Did you guys envision putting up the numbers you did defensively this season?
A: No. Those are good things, things that help us win, and that is great. But the postseason is really what is important.
Q: What was the mood when you guys gave a new set of downs so close to goal line?
A: Obviously, we do not want that. It is just more plays to be played, do not give up just because we gave them a first down. The guys rallied and made good stops. We did enough to keep them out.
Q: Was that stop symbolic of the defense?
A: We still make our mistakes. There are things we could do better. But I know we have a lot of guys who like to play. That is just one of the scenarios where it is not what we drew up but when you are in it, just go do your job and have fun doing it.
Q: Is the defense's attitude toward improvement what makes it great?
A: I would not say we are great at this point. I think that is what makes us play the way we do. The drive, the passion, the accountability, all those things.
Q: When will you say this defense is great?
A: Hopefully there is a time, but not right now.
Q: From everything this defense has accomplished, is there something that has stuck out as the most important or impressive stat for you guys?
A: Wins. That is it.
Q: How important was it to get the first round bye?
A: It is big because it is basically like winning in the first round. You get a chance to rest but you cannot get happy with everything. Just have to focus on the game plan coach Zimmer has set up.
Q: Will you watch the first round games?
A: Yes. If I get the chance, I will always watch the games.
Vikings Center Joe Berger
Q: How satisfying was this year?
A: Yeah, 13-3 is a pretty good year. So, in 13 years I've only had one other year that matched it so it's pretty good. Now we have to win some playoff games.
Q: Do you guys feel like the offense is clicking like you want to be?
A: Yes and no. We're able to move the ball but I think that we'd like to be more seamless. Some of the getting behind the sticks early on with some of the holding calls today, that's the stuff that we can't do. You have to keep moving forward because it puts you in a bad spot especially when you're trying to run the ball and move the clock. We have to clean up that stuff. We're able to move it and put points on the board but that's the stuff that is frustrating.
Q: How beneficial is it to have other people come in on the line and play well?
A: I think it's great. For me personally, with Nick (Easton) going down, it's up to the coaches but I would be the backup center without any experience at that for the year. The last time I played center was Thanksgiving of last year. So to get some time over the ball, I think that was good for me.
Vikings Long Snapper Jeff Overbaugh
Q: With so many tryouts, did you ever let doubt creep into your mind?
A: I've talked to guys I've been in tryouts with and it's taken some guys four years to get in and this my second year out, and to your point with having so many tryouts I think it was a good thing.
Q: How does it feel to land on a team that is going to the playoffs?
A: It's definitely a tremendous deal. I'm happy to be here and thankful to be with this group. I will try my best to do right by them.
Q: Was there a moment today where you looked around and took it all in?
A: Definitely, this is awesome.
Q: How many tryouts did you have?
A: This was my 11th workout this year alone.
Q: Do you think that has anything to do with your size?
A: I don't have a comment on that, I'll leave that up to the thinkers. I'm a player.
Q: What is your height and weight?
A: 6 foot, 235 pounds, 6'1" to be exact.
Q: You called this a dream come true, how did you handle the nerves today?
A: I wouldn't say there was nerves. It's more about paying attention to how you feel and doing your best to execute the assignment.
Vikings Tight End Kyle Rudolph
Q: How big is it having a first round bye?
A: When we set out on July 26 or whenever we went to Mankato, our goals were to win our division, have a home playoff game and have as many games as we can here at U.S. Bank Stadium.* *Now we've earned the right to sit back and watch everyone else this week and we're 50% closer to playing for a championship. It's awesome. To be 13-3, that's great. I've been a fan of this league for a long time and I know of a lot of 13-3 teams that didn't finish the job. Our work is not done yet. We've put ourselves in a great situation to be successful and accomplish all of our goals. It'll be great to get some rest, me especially, and then it's time to get back to work.
Q: How has the offensive line stepped up and filled the holes when needed?
A: You move Joe Berger to his third position of the year, bring in Jeremiah Sirles, move our right tackle to right guard, and Rashod [Hill] has played really well for us the second half of the year for Mike [Remmers] while he was out. Those guys have been awesome all year. Tony [Sporano] has those guys playing at a really high level and I think that's one of the biggest differences from last year to now is the play of the offensive line.
Q: Do you look at yourselves as favorites? A team with a bye usually is.
A: We like having a chip on our shoulder and being the underdog. We have a lot of work to do still and we're going to keep that chip on our shoulder and hope that people still doubt us.
Q: You certainly have some familiarity with the other teams in the NFC playoffs?
A: Absolutely. You look at all the possible scenarios and we've played almost every team except for Seattle and Philly. There is some great familiarity there but just because you beat a team once doesn't mean that they're going to lie down for you. Whoever comes here in two weeks will be hungry. They're just as close to a Super Bowl birth as we are. It'll be a good challenge for us.
Q: What do you appreciate about Pat Shurmur the most?
A: He has absolutely zero ego. He comes in here as a tight end coach when we already have a system in place. He gets moved up to offensive coordinator halfway through the year and could have very easily run his system that he's run his whole life. He adapted his offense to fit us. That's the way he is as a person. You look at him as a coach and where he has our offense right now, it seems so easy. We find what we do well and we want to do it more often. I've said it a couple times over the year and that truly is the case. At the end of the game today, those longer runs by Latavius [Murray] are bread and butter runs for us. It seems so simple to say that we want to do what we do well more often, but it truly is the case.
Q: How has he brought Case [Keenum] along this year?
A: Since the day he got here as the tight ends coach, the impact that he had on our quarterback at that time, Teddy, he just seems to have a way about him and his knowledge about offense. Quarterbacks seems to gravitate towards that. They seems to appreciate the way he lays things out for them. He was our tight end coach but it seemed like Teddy gravitated toward him and appreciated the way he coached offense, not tight ends or quarterbacks, but offense. He's really good at it.
Vikings Defensive Tackle Linval Joseph
Q: How does it feel to get a first round bye?
A: It feels really good. I thought that we played okay today; cannot say that it was great. We did what we had to do to win.
Q: Do you consider that goal line stand great?
A: It felt pretty good. I feel like we should not be in that situation but we got out of it. We ended on a good note.
Q: How impressive is it that you guys were able to pull off that stand?
A: Our defense was built to bend but do not break. Everything is not going to be pretty. Today we had a couple mistakes, but we do what we have to do.
Q: Does it surprise you when teams run at you on the goal line?
A: I am not surprised. Chicago has two great running backs. To contain them and do what we did today, I felt it was a great accomplishment.
Q: Are you surprised Trubisky flipped the ball out on the safety?
A: I felt like he was not expecting the pressure. Today was a good day. I felt like we rushed them well and we just have to work on our mistakes.
Q: What does it mean to be one of the top defenses in the NFL?
A: I mean that is a great thing but right now we are not getting caught up in all that. We are just out here trying to win games.
Q: If I told you in August the team was going to be 13-3, would you be okay with that?
A: Back then, we were talking about a perfect season. It was not perfect but at the end of the day, we are way better than we were last year.
Q: What does the bye mean to the team?
A: The bye is great. Just to figure out where we are at and rest up a little bit.
Q: Do you have any advice as a guy who has won a Super Bowl?
A: No, right now it is all about team ball. It is not about stats. It does not matter. We just have to play better and have less mistakes. The less mistakes we have the better. Do not take anything for granted. Just enjoy the opportunity.
Vikings Running Back Latavius Murray
Q: What does it mean to be a 13-win team at the end of this season?
A: I think it means a lot. It's really hard to win, so for us to be able to put together that many wins, means we've done a lot of good things. We have a really good team.
Q: What does it mean to have a week off going in to the playoffs?
A: A chance for us to heal and get some guys back healthy and take a minute to sit back and relax and maybe get away from everything for a little bit. It's been a very long season, so I think it will be good for us.
Q: You are tied at second in the NFL for rushing TDs over the past two years. How does it feel to have continued success with a new team this season?
A: I think it's pretty cool. I guess I never pay attention to those stats but I know I try to do things for the offense, which is scoring touchdowns and running the football really well. I have to give credit to the O-line, especially today. Pat [Elflein] and Nick [Easton] going down in the past week, I think it shows just how tough they are. How they've been able to come in and step up and just not miss a beat. You have to give them a lot credit because I feel like every other week or so they're moving around up front. Joe [Berger] had to play Center today; those guys don't complain one bit about anything. They just go to work. I'm very, very lucky that those guys are in front of me.
Q: How important was scoring the two running touchdowns today in setting the tone for this game and for the post-season?
A: We wanted to start fast. We wanted to leave everything on the field. We wanted to finish this season off right. We wanted to solidify this first round bye by what we do and not relying on any other team. We were able to do that and it wasn't pretty at times; definitely have to clean up a lot of penalties – I had one myself. We got it done.
Q: What do you appreciate most about playing for Coach Shurmur?
A: He wants to put the ball in everyone's hands. He does a good job trying to keep everyone involved. He does a good job of spreading the ball around, and I think a lot of it also has to do with that we have a lot of unselfish players.
Q: Is there one area of the offense you think you really want to work on over the bye period?
A: We need to continue to be better on third down. Run the ball more efficiently; continue to do that and be better at that. Have some more explosive plays. I think collectively there are a lot of areas we can improve on. We have to figure it out and just try and get better over this next week.
Q: Just when you think your defense can't get any better, what do you think about that goal line stand?
A: They're a big part of the success we've been having, everybody knows that. Offensively, we just try and make sure we compliment them however we can. That group over there is special and I'm just happy that I don't have to go against them.
Q: Which game in this second half of the season did your ankle start feeling better?
A: People can look at the Baltimore game and say that was my breakout game. For me, I just try to continue to improve. I just try to continue to get better, at practice and week-by-week. For me, that's always been the most important thing. Obviously I wanted to go out there and translate on the field. I've continued to try to strengthen my ankle, rehab it so it continues to feel better and better and I'm still doing that.
Vikings Defensive End Brian Robison
Q: What is the importance of getting the two seed with a win?
A: That's very important, you get to this point and to have an opportunity to get a first round bye is like winning two games if you can win this game. So, it would be huge for us to be able to come back here in our place, the second round of playoffs, and hopefully have a chance to play in the playoffs here throughout.
Q: Your team set the record best third down efficiency in a season, does that mean a lot to you?
A: Absolutely it's huge. I think Rob Rodriguez our assistant D-line coach told me that when we came in and that's huge. It's also a testament to how hard we work and it's also a testament of us being good on first down. That was a big point of emphasis for us back in
OTAs was being a lot better on first down, being better in critical situations, third down being one of those and that's why we are here today.
Q: Your thoughts on being number one in scoring defense and total defense?
A: That's huge, that's what you want to be. You want to be able to stop people from scoring points that's how you win ball games. So, for us that's what it's all about.
Q: Did that last goal line stand sum up this defense?
A: Absolutely. I think the thing about our defense is we are very unselfish, at the end of the day we understand that if we do what we need to do, do our jobs, do what the defense called nobody can stop us. We just have to keep that mentality going forward and understand that nobody can get selfish, it has to be all 11 guys on defense on the same page and go play ball.
Q: Thoughts on stopping run and the safety?
A: We definitely knew with that ball team we had to stop the run, that pretty much what their offense is predicated on is making sure they can run the ball and set up a lot of play actions and things like that. Our number one goal was to make sure we didn't let 24 and 29 get going. We were able to do that today and I think it made them a one-dimensional offense, which allowed us to do a little bit more things.
Q: You've had a first round bye, how important is it?
A: It's very important. You play 17 weeks in the NFL. Guys are going to get banged up, they're going to be sore, guys are going to be tired. To be able to get that week off is huge, but at the same time you have to make sure your focus stays in the right place. You can't get complacent, you can't be satisfied where you're at, so guys definitely have to not only physically let their bodies repair, mentally they have to get their mind right going into that second week.
Q: You guys care who you play next?
A: Don't care, they have to come to U.S. Bank Stadium and we're going to be ready for them.
Q: What is so different about this team last year to this year, especially on goal line stands?
A: I think that's a testament that guys understand what we have to do. I think it's also a testament of not getting rattled, understanding that sometimes you're going to face adversity it's about how you respond. That was an adverse play for us and guys responded.
Vikings Wide Receiver Adam Thielen
Q: Is there a sense of accomplishment after that win?
A: Yeah, I mean it's another box that we checked. I don't if it's necessarily a sense of accomplishment but it's definitely part of the goal. But now it's a new season and we're excited about having the week off and finding out who we're going to play.
Q: Was this week just about re-finding yourselves?
A: Yeah, I think we had to go and look at what we can get better at. I think there's a lot of things offensively that I can speak on that we can get better at, it's going to be a great week to have a couple practices to get better at that and also give the body and mind some rest.
Q: You guys didn't show everything you had because you sensed you were in good position, right?
Yeah, I mean obviously we needed to win those games so we were still playing to win. But I think there's a lot that we have in store as an offense. I think we can play a lot better. It's not necessarily that we were holding things back but we just have to execute a little better.
Q: Is it true that things are starting to become more real?
A: Yeah, absolutely. I think that each week for the last eight weeks have been big weeks, including this week because it was basically like a playoff win getting through that first round. I think we haven't really had a week where we felt like we could relax and take the foot off the pedal. That's a good thing though, and obviously moving forward, it's win or go home so we have to leave everything on the field.
Q: Is it nice to know you're reaching your personal goals as well as having the team win?
A: Yeah, I mean honestly it's really not a personal goal, a lot of that is team. We have a great defense that gives us a lot of opportunities on offense. We have a quarterback that's done a great job at finding open receivers and we have a lot of guys that can make plays. On the offensive side of the ball we have a lot of guys that make plays that keep getting me open. It's a team reward and I'm just very thankful for my teammates and coaches.
Q: Having played a lot of the teams in the playoffs, does that give you sense of familiarity?
A: Yeah, but I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing. Teams obviously know what we do and what we do well so that's why we have to go back to work next week and refine the things that we've done and make sure that we take a good look at ourselves as an offense and figure out how we can attack this postseason run.
Q: After 17 weeks is it nice to have a week of rest?
A: Yeah, a week of rest even in the middle of the season is awesome but after 17 weeks it'll be great. We were really pushing for this one. We knew we wanted this one and in the last couple weeks we knew it was going to be huge to get a week off. But it's really not a week off; we're going to have a couple of good practices, which is also just great.
Q: Can you talk about the defense on third down and on the goal line?
A: It's huge. We've kind of rode our defense this whole season. We're going to need them to keep doing their thing, and as an offense, I think we need to do a better job at taking pressure off them. They're really good when we're scoring points as an offense and just letting them do what they do best.
Q: Is there a sense of good fortune with the Super Bowl being played here in Minnesota?
A: No, I don't think so. It's funny because for us we don't really feel that. We're so focused on what we're doing; we're not really focusing on what's happened in the past. We're so focused on getting better as a team. Every year is a totally different situation, different team, different types of players. Honestly, for us we just know that we have a lot of confidence in the way that we're playing football and it's going to be great to be able to get better this week and then on to the playoffs.
Q: With all of the injuries this year is it just a matter of preparation meets opportunity?
A: Honestly, it's a lot of things that go into it. This staff has done a great job of getting depth at every position. I think we have a lot of guys that are just good football players. No one really cares in this locker room how much we weigh, how tall we are or what people think of us. We just love to be on the field playing football and it shows up on Sundays.
Q: What do you appreciate most on how Pat Shurmur has molded this offense?
A: I think it's just the way he lets us do our thing. He knows what we all kind of do wel; he knows that to be a really good offense we need to spread the ball around and keep getting guys involved. He just lets us do what we do well and do it a lot.
Q: How do you notice Pat Shurmur's influence on Case Keenum throughout the year?
A: I can't really speak too much on it because I'm not around those two in their individual meetings but I think by just letting him play and do his thing. Same thing as us, just having him do what he does best like getting him out of the pocket sometimes and letting him do stuff with his feet. I think Case (Keenum) has done a really good job himself just getting himself prepared for games and I think that takes a lot of pressure off Coach Shurmur as well.
Q: Can you talk about what the Bears defense did to you guys today?
A: We knew that the past few weeks they've had a really good defense. They've shut some teams down, so we knew it was going to be tough and we knew that we were going to have to bring our best football. That's exactly what we want, we want; to go against the best. They have some great corners, some great safeties and guys that are physical and make it tough to get open. It was a great challenge and it was fun to go to work against them.
Q: Do you think you'll watch the games next weekend?
A: Yeah, I'm going to watch them as a fan. It's really hard to watch those games and get anything from them because you just don't see the wide copy like we get on our iPads. I think I'll just watch as a fan and keep up to date on who we might play and then hit the tape once the game's over.
Q: How nice will it be to watch at home and heal some wounds?
A: It'll be awesome. That will be huge, and I think the two practices that we'll get in before that will be huge. Just to get some timing down and work on the things that we haven't done well the last few weeks.
Vikings Wide Receiver Stefon Diggs
Q: What does becoming the fastest Viking to reach 200 receptions mean to you?
A: It's not something that I really think about, to be honest with you. When it happened I didn't even have a clue. It's definitely something that you want to smile about, but I'm not really concerned about that.
Q: What does 13 wins mean to a NFL team? That's not easy to do.
A: Not at all. I was here our first year when we made that playoff run, and it was tough. Last year I was here through that tough time when we battled through adversity. To come back out, it was definitely hard to get these 13 wins. Not only is that credited to the guys on this team, but our coaches and everybody putting us in the best position. As far as taking it one day at a time, we're going to plan to do it the same way. We get this bye week, and that's huge for us.
Q: Where do you think this offense is at heading into the playoffs?
A: We definitely got some things that we could clean up. We did enough to win today, but when you play different teams, that isn't always going to be that case. We're going to clean up the little things. As far as my guys [the wide receivers], we try our hardest to make each and every play, and we're going to continue to do so. We'll clean up the little things moving forward. We got a lot of penalties today, self-inflicted wounds. Moving forward, cleaning it up so we can have success.
Q: Does it help that you'll likely have seen the opponent that you will play in two weeks?
A: To a certain extent. You know the little tendencies, how they like to play, but they're going to throw a wrinkle at you because they had the chance to see you as well. As far as adjusting to them, there will be an adjustment, whatever it is. We're going to take this time off, we got some guys that are a little banged up. Definitely get them time to heal up, and moving forward, get this show on the road.
Q: What's the confidence level of this team right now?
A: It's high. Everybody has been asking us all year, and as far as our confidence goes, we come to work every day playing to win that day, win the week, and after that, win on Sundays. Confidence is going to be high, we're never going in with any doubt in our mind. We trust our guys, we trust the people that are out there each and every play, and we play for one another. That's where the confidence lies.
Q: You've seen an increase in production over the last three weeks. Has there been anything different over the last month for you that may have caused that?
A: No, not really. I've been trying to do the same thing I've been doing. Each and every day I prepare the same way and try not to switch anything. I try to be the same guy no matter what. As far as touchdowns, they're always nice, it's fun. But I'm more concerned with whether we get a W, and after that, that's when I'm really happy. On to the next one.
Q: Do you think the chemistry between you and Case Keenum has continued to progress each week?
A: Yeah. As far as quarterback and receiver, that's a thing that takes time. But at the same time, you're still playing football. I just do my job, he does his job, and sometimes he runs around a little bit so it makes it easier on me. He's a great player, so you kind of got to feed off of that energy. Moving forward and trying to have success, we'll work at it.
Q: When the numbers keep coming as consistently as they have the last few weeks, does that continue to raise your confidence?
A: No. To be honest with you, I go out with confidence. I'm not really a guy that would not have confidence. I have confidence in my guys, and that's my quarterback. I trust that he's going to do whatever he needs to do to one: get the ball out, and two: put me in the best position. I just got to make the plays then.
Q: How important is it to get this first round bye?
A: You want to do it for your teammates, especially those that are a little banged up that will need this week to get their body back to where they want to go. As far as winning 13 times, that's hard in the National Football League. To get a bye is like a small reward, but it's only something that's going to hopefully push us in to where we need to go in the playoffs.
Q: Will you watch the playoffs?
A: Yeah. No matter what, you're going to play one of those teams. I'm going to watch the game live, and I'm going to watch the game on tape. That's how it's going to go.
Q: Coach Zimmer said last week that if you scratch his back, he'll scratch yours. Will you guys be able to rest this week?
A: That's how our relationship is. As far as player and coach, he's a guy that says if you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. If you don't scratch my back, I can't scratch yours, you know what I'm saying? That's how business works. As our coach, you love that from a guy. You bust your balls and you try to work as hard as you can. When you come out with a win, he'll scratch your back a little bit. But you got to bring your ass back to work soon, that's all.
Q: At the beginning of your career, did you have any idea that you could be this productive this soon?
A: Yes. I feel like I can have success, and I work to try to have success. That's why I train in the offseason, that's why I work so hard during the reason, to have success. Any that comes, yay, but moving forward there's a lot more to eat. I got to eat some more. I'm not really worried about it.
Vikings Cornerback Terence Newman
Q: Where does this defense rank on the ones you have played with?
A: It has to be up there for sure. I have played on some really good defenses. My rookie year, we led the team in total defense with coach Zimmer. This one is as good as any other I have been on.
Q: What was the mindset down by the goal line?
A: Our defensive line has played lights out all year. They get pushed and the linebackers scrape. Someone has to make a play. We have been coached to play through adversity. They get a first down inside the five and we were able to hold them. You just have to focus. You have to let the person next to you count on you.
Vikings Cornerback Trae Waynes
Q: Is this the best defense you have been a part of?
A: I do not know. We had a really great defense at Michigan State but this is up there.
Q: How satisfying is 13-3?
A: It is a great feeling but we are not finished yet. We have find out who we play and prepare for them.
Q: How do you feel about how the defense is playing?
A: I feel like we are playing really well together. Our communication is on point and our coaches are doing a great job preparing us for the games.
Q: Do you care who you play in two weeks?
A: No. Just have to face them like we always do.
Q: Is the defense feeding off of each other?
A: I think so. We are playing real well together. We are all communicating and that is a big part of our game.
Q: How does it feel to keep the offense out of the end zone again?
A: It feels great. We cannot really dwell on it because we have another game to prepare for.
Vikings Cornerback Xavier Rhodes
Q: If you were told back in Training Camp that you guys would go 13-3, would you have taken it?
A: I always say as long as you win more than you lose, you're good. That's what we did this year, and that was the goal, to win more than we lose.
Q: The defense was outstanding in goal line situations today. What can you say about this unit's play in situations like that?
A: We just don't give up. We make mistakes here and there, but we don't give up. We're resilient, we just go out there and we play. We play physical, and no matter what the outcome is, such as penalties (which we had a lot of this game), we're just going to go out there and play our defense.
Q: Are you surprised that teams continue to run at Linval Joseph in the red zone?
A: He's a beast. That man is great, no one can block that guy. He comes off the blocks and makes plays. He's pretty good.
Q: The defense has looked confident no matter the situation. Has that grown throughout the season?
A: Definitely. We've been together for a while, and we know each other in and out. We know what Zimmer expects out of us, and we know that George [Edwards] and our position coaches bring that out of us. We just try our best to not let each other down and not let the coaches down. We try to play our game and be aggressive, get the call. Corners cover, linebackers, if they have to blitz, blitz the run gap, defensive linemen stay in their gaps. Just try to be disciplined to the call.
*Vikings Punter Ryan Quigley *
Q: How do you think Jeff Overbaugh played today?
A: Everything looked great. He did an awesome job. Nobody knows except guys who have played, the feelings you have. To come into this kind of situation, with how big this game was.
Q: Could you sense a lot of nerves with him?
A: There had to be, but he didn't show anything. Calm, cool, collected like he's been doing it a long time. We're happy to have him and we're excited about this run we're about to go on, and special teams have got to be a strength for us.
*Q: How does it feel playing with a defense like this, that can just pin them down inside the 10 like they have? *
I feel bad for the other team. We've shown it all year. A lot of times we get them pinned deep down there and they're going three-and-out and that's plenty of range.