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Postgame Quotes: Vikings-Bills

*Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer *

Okay, obviously that was a poor performance by us today. I, obviously, didn't do a well enough job preparing this football team for this game. It was probably as poor a first half as I've seen in quite awhile. We didn't get anything done offensively. Special teams, we made a lot of mistakes. Defensively, we allowed the quarterback to get out and scramble and we turned a couple guys loose in coverage again today. We're going to have to get things fixed in a hurry. We've got a short week against a good football team on the road again. I have not lost faith in this football team. But, it just shows you, every week is a new week. You've got to go out and play. Just because somebody says that you're supposed to win, doesn't mean that's going to happen.

Q: Did you see anything in practice that would lead you to believe a performance like this was coming?

A: No, they actually practiced pretty well. I mean, there's always some mistakes in practice but for the most part, no.

Q: How much did the early turnovers hurt?

A: Turnovers never help and where they turned them over was not good. But, the defense has to come out and stop them. We had some chances to get turnovers today on defense and the ball didn't bounce our way. I thought at some points we rushed good on the quarterback and then sometimes we beat a guy and then he'd get out and go. We lost the back line coverage one time on a scramble and then on the wheel route there at the beginning, the first touchdown, it was a miscommunication.

Q: Did Josh Allen play last week?

A: Yeah, he played last week, played the second half the week before that too.

Q: Has he ever played like that? What did he do last week?

A: He didn't do that.

Q: Do you know what's happening with tight ends able to get open against this defense?

A: I don't know, I think the tight end had two catches.

Q: What about on the early touchdown?

A: Yeah, it was miscommunication. It has nothing to do with who it was, a tight end, wide receivers, running back, it doesn't make a difference.

Q: Were Dalvin Cook and Everson Griffen going to be out no matter who the opponent was?

A: Yeah. If guys are healthy, they're going to play. That's just how we do it. Us missing guys had nothing to do with the way we performed today. We started poorly. Actually, we started good, we go three-and-out and get a penalty for a hit on the quarterback. Then I think we get another penalty on that drive and when you get penalties on defense, it leads to points, that's just how things go.

Q: How do you judge if a team takes an opponent too lightly?

A: I don't think we took this team too lightly. I think they played really well today. I talked to them all week long about their defensive line. I talked to them about some of their players on offense. I talked to them pretty good about it this week. I don't think we took them too lightly, I think they came out and kicked our butts.

Q: Everson Griffen wasn't on the sideline today, do you have any news about where he was?

A: Yeah, he's having a personal matter and I'm going to leave it at that.

Q: How tough will it be to prepare on a short week?

A: Yeah, it's tough to do but everybody has to do it.

Q: How was Jerry Hughes and the Bills pass rush today?

A: Yeah, he had a good day. Their defensive line is really good. I told our guys all week long. I said, 'this defensive line is going to come after you. They're not going to sit in there and read, they're going to come after you and after you.' Then they were bringing a fifth guy quite a bit of times. They did a good job covering and we didn't make them pay any because of the way they were playing. We didn't make them pay. I thought we'd have a chance to get some play action passes and we never did that either.

Q: How do you think Pat Elflein played?

A: I have no idea. Played 22 plays, that's all I know.

Q: How do you get this team back on track?

A: I'm not too worried about that, honestly, about getting them back. We had a bad day. We've got to play better, obviously. I don't have doubts about this football team. But, this is the NFL and you've got to go out and play every week. If you don't, that's what is going to happen. We did all of the things that cause you to lose football games. We brought the kick out [of the endzone], I don't know how many times. We had penalties on it. We fumbled the ball twice. I don't know how many turnovers we had today. We allowed the quarterback to run around, busted coverages, when you do things like that, you're going to get beat.

Q: How does Trae Waynes' ankle look?

A: I don't know, he's having an MRI tomorrow.

Vikings Quarterback Kirk Cousins

Q: What happened?

A: I could be talking up here for a while but I just try to look at farming my land, look at what I can do better. Obviously, you can't turn the ball over and give their offense a short field. We asked too much of our defense having to be out on the field so much. Very little time of possession for us. We needed to convert third downs and stay on the field to give them a breather and allow them to stand up when they are out there. That is really what jumps to mind first. The turnovers and not moving the ball, converting third downs and staying on the field to give ourselves a chance.

Q: What happened on those two fumbles?

A: The first one I was running. I made a decision to run at that point and he [Trent Murphy] just popped it out coming from pursuit. The second done was just in the pocket. Was just trying to step up around the edge and he [Jerry Hughes] got around and was able to club the ball out.

Q: Have fumbles been a point of emphasis for you?

A: I think we always talk every day. We drop back every single day and talk about having two hands on the ball and protecting the football and understanding how important that is.

Q: How does this rank among unexpected defeats in your career?

A: Hard to rank it because I don't have a list in front of me but certainly not what we wanted today. We will get back to work and get ready for L.A. as fast as we can.

Q: What did you see under center from the defensive front?

A: Yes, they are a great defensive front. Great defense, well coached, great scheme. They have legitimate players at a lot of positions. They showed that today and they played a really good game defensively.

Q: Was there any sense, intentional or not, of taking this team too lightly or looking ahead too far to Thursday Night?

A: I don't think so. We've played long enough in the NFL to know how hard each game is. I've played against some teams that finished 1-15 and they don't feel any different than the teams that finish 15-1 for much of the game. You may win, but it's two or three plays you can point to that ultimately if it didn't go your way, could have been a loss. We've learned, those of us in the League, understand it is an absolute grind every single week and it will always be that way.

Q: The early incompletions to Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen was a product of the timing being off from the rush.

A: I'll have to go back and watch it but I do think the first one to Diggs in the sideline was entirely my fault. Have to hit that. I felt that was an important throw in the game. Then one to Adam on third down crossing the field. I tried to throw it over the underneath defense and I just think I maybe gave them too much credit to how much they were dropping. I should've kept the ball flatter and flattened him out on his route. I was so concerned about the underneath coverage dropping, I tried to put it up and over and it ended up being too far where Adam couldn't get to it. That was a play you feel like was there. The inaccuracy of the throw led to the drive stalling and that is where it's frustrating.

Q: Would you agree this is a good week to have a short week to move forward from this loss?

A: It certainly helps to get back to work and get back on the field again. We want to play whenever, wherever against whoever, but we just play our schedule and Thursday night is the next one up ahead.

Q: What did you think of their quarterback?

A: The little bit I observed from the sideline I thought he played a great game – protecting the football and they moved the football. I didn't help anybody by giving them a short field a couple of times and asking so much of our defense by not converting third downs and sustaining drives. We have to play complementary football and I don't know our offense – myself, starting quarterback, I don't know if I complemented the special teams, defense well enough today to give those guys a chance.

Q: Did Buffalo play as well defensively in previous games?

A: I think when we watched the film we felt like they were disadvantaged again by some of the things that we did today. There were turnovers that gave opposing offenses a short field and somethings that put their defense in a disadvantaged position, so after only two games it was hard to see. We knew they were a playoff team last year. They played well on defense last year. I had played against coach [Sean] McDermott against Carolina and he had always given me a hard time when I played him so I just felt that these guys were going to be a challenge and they were.

Q: With different a different play caller from Buffalo, was there anything you didn't prepare for?

A: No. It was what we saw.

Q: What do you think when you hear them saying, "You like that?"

A: I've heard it quite a bit. It's pretty much the most common thing I hear on the field and when I play in the league. I hear that in offseason meetings. I hear that. It's just what you hear in the crowd and stuff like that.

Q: How tough is it to prepare for two games in one week?

A: Yeah. It's the schedule we have, so we go play it. We have to just toughen up and get ready to go. I don't really think too much about how tough is it. I just really play the schedule we're handed.

Vikings Tight End Kyle Rudolph

Q: Uncharacteristic loss where one segment of the team has a rough day. The other usually picks it up.

A: Unfortunately, you go back and look at the last three years of football that we played. We've done this once a year. Go back a couple of Decembers ago, we had a chance of making the playoffs. Then the Indianapolis Colts come in here and kick our butts. Last year in the NFC Championship game, everyone knows what happened. One thing for us is that it happened in September. We're going to learn from it, this could be the best thing for us. We have a really young and talented team, but we can't just roll the ball out there and expect to win. I think a lot of people were underestimating the Buffalo Bills this week. I talked to you guys on Thursday, on how talented the front was and how good the defense was. Although they had given up a lot of points. They weren't put into great situations and we were the opposite team today. We were the one turning the ball over in our own territory and putting them in favorable down and distance. Turnovers, penalties, poor field position all day, never flipped the field for our defense, just really uncharacteristic in all three phases.

*Q: Did it feel like quick sand that you couldn't get out of?       *

A: We just kept stressing that let's just string one drive together. Even when it was ugly there late in the first half we still had the ball with a chance to go down. We knew we were getting the ball right away to start the second half. That could be a fourteen-point swing right there. The next thing you know its 24-14 and your right back in the game. I never felt like we were out of it, it just seemed like we could never get anything going.

Q: Where is your overall mindset after a game like this?

A: The best thing about this is we play in four days. You don't have time to sit back and think about how poorly we played today. We're going to go play a really good football team in four days in Los Angeles. The best way to bounce back from such a poor performance is to go play well. Thankfully, we don't have to wait seven days to go play well. 

Q: How much changes when you fall behind early in the game?

A: The biggest thing was just stressing that we needed to string one drive together. We needed to get that first, first-down and move the ball down the field. We scored twenty points in the fourth quarter last week, we can score points in a hurry. We have to do the little things. We have to execute, we can't put ourselves in first and twenty. We can't turn the ball over. We have to do what we have done well here over the years. That's running the football, staying on schedule and making plays in the passing game when they present themselves.

Q: Is this a good week to have a short week?

A: Absolutely, I'd hate to have to wait seven days to play again after playing so poorly today. We're going to lick our wounds and get going. We get to go play a really good football team on the road. A team that will be battling for a playoff spot here in late December. If we want to get to where we want to be at the end of this, this might be a good thing. A kick in the tail every once in a while, helps. Like I said earlier, I'm glad this happened in September. The last two years it happened in December against the (Indianapolis) Colts. That cost us a playoff chance. Then last year everyone knows what happened in Philadelphia. Maybe, it's a blessing in disguise.

Vikings Running Back Latavius Murray

Q: As a team, did you overlook them?

A: Not at all. As I said earlier in the week, it doesn't matter what their record was or our record. None of that matters. Every week, you're going to get a team that is doing all they can to get it right. You have to give them credit.

Q: With 14 rushing yards total, was there anything that surprised you?

A: We definitely take it personal. We have to be better when we get the ball, I have to be better. Collectively, we have to be better on the ground. We get behind when we're not able to do things as an offense. We just have to play better, have to be better. I have no doubt that we will be better. They got the best of us today, for sure.

Q: From your vantage point, why were there so many breakdowns of the offensive line?

A: You have to give them credit, they have a good defense. You can sit there and look at their record, say they're 0-2, different things, how many yards they have given up, and things like that, but, none of that matters. They still have the ability over there on the other side of the ball. I think that showed.

Q: You've been in the league for a while, how does this rank maybe amongst the most surprising defeat that you've had since you've been in the league?

A: When you lose, you lose. I'm not going to say "I'm surprised. I expect to win." But obviously things happen and you lose the game. As far as being punched in the mouth, this is probably up there for the worst there is for me.

Q: What did Coach Zimmer say at halftime to you guys to try and get you going?

A:  Just one play at a time. We've been in situations like that, and we found ways to win, but this time we didn't. We had to look at it. Being better, for one, not putting ourselves in that situation and having to play from behind and overcome from mistakes, or just not making plays on our part. We just have to come out. We have to start faster. Be better.

Vikings Defensive End Danielle Hunter

Q: did the Bills do things you didn't see on film?

A: No, we just had to stick to our game plan. We just had to keep him in the pocket. If he didn't see his first read, he would try to scramble. So, it is all about keeping him contained the whole game.

Q: Next up it is a short week and you head to LA is that a good thing?

A: You know, we just have to go in and recover. Study our plans for next week and move on.

Q: What is it like in the first quarter when they jump on you so quickly?

A: We just have to do better on both sides of the ball. Offense and defense need to go out there and execute the game plan.

Q: Shell shocked at all with the way the first quarter went?

A: They came out and they went at it. Coach was saying all week they had a good team, don't take anything lightly on them. They came out there and did their job, and we didn't do a good job on both sides of the ball.

Q: Why was Josh Allen able to run as many times as he did?

A: We saw on film that he was a quarterback that scrambled a lot. So, it was part of the game plan for us to keep him contained.

Vikings Linebacker Anthony Barr

Q: Do you feel like you had a good week of practice? Were you guys where you wanted to be emotionally, mentally, for this game?

A: Absolutely, everything was good all week, in terms of locker room communication. We felt prepared.

Q: In some ways, does the short week help so you can put this loss behind you quicker or no?

A: Yeah, I think so. In this case, we are definitely looking forward to getting back out there Thursday.

Q: Going into this game, knowing you were playing one of the worst teams, did you guys underestimate them?

A: I don't think so. It is the NFL so all teams are capable of coming out and playing at a high level and being successful. It wasn't anything like that, it was just a lot of mental mistakes, physical mistakes this week and we'll get that cleaned up.

Q: What was that first half like? It seemed like across the board, no one could get anything right.

A: Yeah, exactly what you just said. That's on us, we have to make our mark and we have to put ourselves in situations, even the fumbles they had, we couldn't even get those. We just have to be more aware of that I guess and make the plays when they are there.

Vikings Linebacker Eric Kendricks

Q: How surprised are you that you got beat today?

A: Obviously we come to play. We play to win. First quarter was bad on all sides of the ball. They hit us in the mouth and we couldn't respond.

Q: Can you talk about how costly the penalties are?

A: Penalties are always costly, man. No matter if you get one or however many we had. 1st down, second down, third down, it doesn't matter. They always cost us, and they are not good.

Q: Can you talk about Josh Allen and his mobility?

A: He is a mobile quarterback. He made some plays on the fly, made some plays on the run. It is going to happen with a mobile quarterback. We have to respond. We have to act better, we have to play better.

Q: What is the most frustrating thing for this defense knowing what you bring to the table and what happened today?

A: Like you said, what happened today. It's disappointing, but I am confident in the guys we have and the staff we have. I know how we work. We are going to get back to work; we have a game this week. I am not going to hang my head too low for too long. I am going to get back after it, and I am excited to get another opportunity to play.

Q: Adam Thielen thought it was a good time to have a short week to get this feeling out of your mouth?

A: Yeah, man, absolutely. I am already trying to get over it. It is on to the next. It is going to hurt obviously for a little bit. I am going to let it sting. But like I said I am excited to get another opportunity to play with these guys. We have a great team, very special. We have to start clicking and playing like that.

Q: Usually if one part of the team is struggling another part picks it up. It is a little rare to see this all across the board?

A: Yeah, it was all across the board. You can't really point the finger at anybody. Just point it at yourself and do better.

Q: Coach Zimmer talked about miscommunication. Is there a common theme with what causes these miscommunications?

A: No, no common theme. Just, things happen. Offenses scheme for us; we game plan for them. Things happen like that. But it is about the adjustments you make and getting after it. We need to communicate better and do better on defense.

Vikings Wide Receiver Adam Thielen

Q: Tell us a little bit about this game.

A: There's a lot of things I could have done better. You make a couple of plays early in the game and the whole game is different. Obviously we got a quick turnaround this week which is good for us to be able to go and play football and not have to think about this anymore.

Q: How would you rank this among the more unexpected defeats?

A: I don't know. That's football, that's the game. No one is just going to say, "Hey the Vikings are good, let's just step down and let them win this game." We knew that going into this game. It's the National Football League, everyone is really good and you can lose a game at any point. It's the same thing that we always talk about. You have to do certain things to win a game, and we didn't do any of those.

Q: Do you think the short turnaround will be a good thing?

A: Yeah, it's a chance to go back out on the football field and play a game instead of going and having to sit and have a couple days off to think about it. That would be the only positive thing coming out of today, we get to play again in four days.

Q: How much did the two early turnovers put you behind?

A: Any time you turn the ball over it's going to hurt you. When you do it early in the football game and those lead to points, that kills you. The tough part is people see that one person made the turnover, but it really falls on everybody. Receivers could have got open quicker and guys could have gotten on the football and hustled more. From my perspective, I could have gotten on a couple. It's a team game. We lose as a team and win as a team.

Q: Where does this rank for you in terms of losses?

A: It feels a lot like the Colts game a couple of years ago where we just got our butts whooped. It's just one of those things about how you start the football game. In this league, you have to start fast and we obviously didn't do that.

Q: What was said at halftime?

A: That's the encouraging thing, coming out of this game is that we have a lot of fighters in this locker room, and I don't think anybody was quitting. What we talked about at halftime was give it everything you've got, one play at a time. Let everything else fall into place. If we can continue to have that mindset and take care of the little things, I think we will be right back on track.

Q: The offensive line really had a tough time today. Did you underestimate how good  Buffalo's defensive line was?

A: Honestly, we knew going into the game. Coach talked about it, and we saw on film how good they are. I think that was the tough thing, is everyone was talking about how poor their defense is, when they're actually a really good team. They're a really good defense because of how they rush the passer, and we knew that was going to be a challenge. But again that comes down to us as receivers. We have to get open and we have to make plays when they are there so we get the pressure off of those guys.

Vikings Defensive Tackle Tom Johnson

Q: Does it take some adjusting being away from the team?

A: Just the terminology, learning different places that they have but for the most part everything was pretty much the same, so it was an easy turnaround for me.

Q: Difficult for you to come back and then have a game like this?

A: Well it's complementary football, if one phase of the game breaks down, the other phase has got to pick it up. We weren't able to do it, stop the bleeding, especially when getting those turnovers, the turnover ratio. Once we got behind the eight ball it was kind of hard to stop the bleeding.

Q: Is Josh Allen underrated as a mobile quarterback?

A: I've got to give him credit, especially with a little hurdling or whatever.  But we knew that going into the game that he was going to try to run and try to escape a few times. We got too high and he got the escape through the B gap also, but they had some good stuff going on. A lot of self-inflected things happened that we could've stopped and benefitted from but not today.

Q: Latavius Murray was saying that this was one of the worst losses he's been a part of just because of how it felt, how do you feel?

A: There was a lot of uncharacteristic things, especially defensively and when you see guys running free down the field that never happens. Guys making big plays then that doesn't happen typically. They were able to hit us in some spots that we were unfamiliar with, not being in those types of positions so they took advantage of it.

Q: How do you deal with the shock of this considering this team who's been together for so long rarely ever has games like this?

A: We're going to go check out everything and everybody's going to be accountable for what happened and take on next week. So, it's a 24-hour rule, you go with it and in 24 hours you learn from your mistakes and you go to the next game.

Vikings Fullback CJ Ham

Q: What was going on offensively?

A: It was just of those games where it's hard to get things rolling and there's not an excuse for it. I'm not going to sit here and tell you that we should've done this, and we should've done that. It was just one of those games and it happened. Now we know what it feels like and we've got to get better.

Q: All of those penalties and those turnovers obviously had to kill?

A: It does kill all phases of the ball, and penalties definitely set you back. The game is all about field position and today we were not able to win that field position battle.

Q: Talking to you guys this week, it did not seem like any of you were overlooking this game?

A: No. We came out and we were focused on this game. We were trying to be 1-0 this week. We have a game in a couple of days and that's just how it is. We were focused on this game and we just didn't get it done.

Q: How hard was it to overcome those two fumbles early on?

A: That's football. Sometimes things are going to go your way and other times they won't. Somebody needs to make a play, it only takes one person to make a play that creates a spark and gets things rolling.

Q: Do you guys take it personally as a group with just 14 total rushing yards?

A: It's one of those things where the game got out of hand quickly. We definitely then had to lean on the pass a little more, but regardless of how many times we are running the ball, we want to make the most of it.

Q: Do you think the quick turn-around to LA on Thursday will help you get past this game faster?

A: It wasn't a good game for us, but it's onto the next game. We're going to look at the film tomorrow, make corrections, and then it's onto LA.

Vikings Defensive End Stephen Weatherly

Q: Is your first sack bitter sweet?

A: Yes, it was nice, getting some production, getting out there and playing with my brothers, but it is sad that we didn't get the win. So, we will just learn from it, break down the film and apply it towards next week.

Q: Did Josh Allen's ability to make plays with his legs catch you off guard a little bit?

A: No, we knew going in that he was a mobile quarterback, that he will tuck it and run it and that he's not afraid to do that. Back to the execution thing, the defensive line, we let him out too many times and we just have to be better.

Q: Considering the success this defense has had for so long, does it surprise you to see when a guy is wide open?

A: I just try to rush the passer, so you wouldn't be able to complete those throws. With blitzes and stuff like that, there is always a hole somewhere. So, we try to get to the quarterback before he is able to see those, and get him to throw the ball away, and get pressure on him. We just need to do better and execute in the pass rush so he is not able to hit those throws.

Vikings Tackle Riley Reiff

Q: Was that something you weren't expecting out of that team?

A: No. We knew they were a good defense. It was a tough loss. I have to play better. Give them credit, they came out to play today. We have to move forward.

Q: What was said at halftime?

A: We just had to get going. We were down whatever it was, and we didn't get going in the second half. We have to come out and play with a little bit of fire.

Q: What was that defense able to do to get some pressure on Kirk Cousins today?

A: They have good rushers. They are a good defense.

Q: Where does this rank for you in terms of tough losses? Is it good that you're going to L.A. quick to maybe forget it?

A: Yeah, it's not fun. We're going to get back to work. I didn't have a good game at all. I'll admit it. Get back to work and get it done. L.A is just another game.