Postgame Quotes: Vikings-Cardinals

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer

It was a good team win today. I thought there were a lot of good things that went on. Defensively I thought we played very well, pressured the quarterback, a 4*th* down stop, a 4*th* down stand on the goal line that we stopped, 0-10 on 3*rd* downs. That’s really how we have to play defensively. Offensively, early in the ball game we had a couple turnovers and we talked about this team all week long, they’re creating turnovers, so we need to do a better job there. We had way too many tipped balls today so we have to fix that but it was good to see the running game got going. I thought Latavius [Murray] ran with a purpose and I also feel like, that you know at the end of the ball game our guys kept their pads low, fired off the ball. They had a bunch of guys lined up in the gaps so we had to try and knock them off the ball in order to run the clock out and that’s what good teams do. You finish games by running the football. I thought special teams did a nice job as well as far as flipping the field position a couple times.

Q: What were some of the keys to getting the running game going?

A: Part of it is, you know, stick with it some. Sometimes you get a 2 yard gain and you get frustrated, you just have to, might be 2 and 2 and then it might be 22. So you just have to keep pounding away and pounding away, that’s kind of how these things happen.

Q: Did the lead in the second half give your defense a chance to put their ears back?

A: They changed when it got up to being three scores a little bit. Some of their tendencies changed off of that so I had to adjust with some of the things as well but yeah. I thought they did a nice job of accepting the challenge, understanding that you know, if we’re going to win games this is how we have to do it. Mackensie [Alexander] made a nice play on 4th and 10 on [Larry] Fitzgerald but overall, and you know there’s a couple penalties in there and we had to overcome ourselves but we can’t worry about things that get called. We just have to go out and play and do our job and the one thing we gave them one big play today but the thing we’ve done better the last couple weeks is we’ve eliminated these big plays and that’s been a big point of emphasis for us defensively.

Q: What made the secondary blitzes so effective?

A: A lot of times it’s getting the protection turned the right way, I think maybe one time we just beat somebody. Things happen.

Q: What accounts for all the tipped passes?

A: I don’t know. I know a couple of them were on nakeds where you’re not blocking the guy. The thing is on nakeds, if you’re not running the ball a little bit the other way then they never close with the run, they just run up the field and go after the quarterback and that’s happened many times this year really. That’s something we’re going to have to fix and correct.

Q: How important was it early in the game to hold them on the goal line?

A: It was good, it was big. I think offensively we were 3-4 in the redzone, what were they, 1-3 in the redzone so that’s the other point of emphasis we always talk about is redzone touchdowns, percentage, and we were pretty good in that today.

Q: How is Mike Hughes?

A: He’s going to get an MRI tomorrow.

Q: What was your game plan defensively? It looked like it was confusing Josh Rosen.

A: I think we should play the SKOL chant a lot more than what we do. I don’t know who is in charge of that Rick [Spielman], but two times a game doesn’t get it. We need to do that a lot more when we’re at home. I’m not going to give you my game plan.

Q: Do you think that simplifying the defense accounted for the return of 3*rd* down stops?

A: We have a lot of things on 3rd down that we can go to. The play that Anthony Harris made was a great play. We were in the right defense and they ran the right play but he made a great play on the ball. Teams come in there and they change everything that they’ve been doing for five weeks and you just have to go out and adjust a lot. The whole game is about adjusting and talking about the blitzes, the protections, and “alright now we have to run this one”. So you have to have enough bullets in your holster that you can pull some out and you hope you pull the right ones out.

Q: Do you think there is a ball that Adam Thielen can’t catch?

A: I know he doesn’t think there’s a ball he can’t catch, for sure. That’s how he is in practice every day. He laid out in practice the other day and goes, “Why did I do that?” Just one of those things. The kid, Adam has a great heart, he’s really a tough kid. He comes over to me and talks to me during the game about stuff that’s going on and it’s always about, “these guys can’t guard me”, and all the stuff like that. Adam is a heck of a football player and I’m glad he’s on our team.

Q: Were you pleased with Laquon Treadwell’s outing this game?

A: Yeah from what I can tell, I know he had a couple catches there early. I don’t know what happened later on, honestly I have so much stuff I’m doing during the game, it’s hard for me to keep tabs on each guy.

Q: As a defensive coach are you past the point of thinking the rookie quarterbacks are more than capable to run an NFL offense?

A: The thing that I always think about is, every one of these young quarterbacks, rookie quarterbacks, they’ve all won a lot of games in their life. Comebacks or in college and things like that so all these guys have always done it. We have the utmost respect for every quarterback that we play.

Q: When did you decide Kirk Cousins had the leadership that you want?

A: It wasn’t a few years ago. There was a while I thought Teddy [Bridgewater] was going to be my guy for the rest of my coaching career and he would still be here and I’d be fired. Then I thought Sam [Bradford] was going to be the guy. Then I thought Case [Keenum] was going to be the guy. In the offseason we did a study on really those four guys. I knew Kirk from playing against him. The thing that I love about this guy is his passion for the game, his intensity that he has. He’s come in here and taken charge as a leader. When Rick [Spielman], and myself, Flip [John DeFilippo], George Paton, we sat in there and we evaluated all the quarterbacks and we came out with a consensus and that was the one we wanted to go with and everybody was all in.

Q: Kirk Cousins has been among one of the leaders for fumbling. Is that something you’re concerned with?

A: Yeah I’m concerned about all the fumbles, we’ve got to do a better job. I think the two times, the two that I remember that he fumbled, both times guys were coming from behind him. He’s got to, when he starts moving up in the pocket, he has to be ready to put the ball [away], so we’ll address that.

Vikings Quarterback Kirk Cousins

Q: Can you explain the dance that you celebrated with?

A: Adam [Thielen] calls it the Dead Arm Dance. He says that’s what they used to do back in the day at Mankato State. It looked pretty familiar because I’ve been at some parties where some people who can’t dance do that as well. I like to embrace, my limitations as a dancer. I guess I’m honest about it. That’s a dance I can get behind. I was asking Diggsy [Stefon Diggs] about his dance from Week 1 and I didn’t really know what he was trying to do and so I tried to do both of them after the rushing touchdown. We had fun with it. It was great when the linemen joined and it’s kind of a group thing, that’s when it becomes fun.

Q: What do you attribute the tipped passes to?

A:  One was a keeper so I attribute it to an unblocked end that we’re trying to influence with the run fake, he doesn’t buy it and then I’ve got to touch it up and over. If I touch it too much the safety drives down and blows up C.J. [Ham], so I was just trying to get it up and over quick. I made that throw several times this season, but that one he got. Other ones were quick game and I felt like a back’s trying to cut the end and get hands down, but then the end could get back up and he got that one. The last one was regular protection I don’t even know who batted it, it just is what it is, but I thought it was more a credit the Cardinals defense and their scheme and the way they played and they were ready to bat balls down then it was anything we were doing.

Q: Was it refreshing to close out the game with the running game?

A: Yes, absolutely. I’ve always said that the run game is going to be an easier way to move the football when it comes to less risk. Anytime we can get the run game going and have explosive runs that’s always preferred, especially in the second half there when we got a three score lead and we were trying to churn clock. So anytime we get that going we’re going to try, but it’s tough to stay patient at times. You have a second and short, you run the ball and you lose a couple yards, now it’s third and four, and you’re back to your drop back game and you’re thinking why did we run on second down. It’s that balance of trying to be patient and run the ball, but also not wasting plays.

Q: How important was it to get the score before the half and then score off the kickoff in the third?

A: So, Coach Zimmer talks about that. He says back in May during OTAs we sit in a team meeting and he shows us film of teams that do that. He calls it a double dip – where you finish the half and you start the second half and you score on both possessions. He says many times when you double dip you can put teams away quickly and so we talk about it and because Coach Zim preaches it, a guy like Kyle Rudolph is on the sideline saying, “Hey man let’s double dip”. Before we even go down to score to end the half we’re talking about how important it is to do that and today we were able to. Would have loved to been able to do more in the second half to really pull away.

Q: Would any quarterback hit like you fumble the ball or is there something you can do?

A: All fumbles are different and I think when you have ones like I had against the Bills where I was running forward and the ball was not secure against my body and it got punched out from behind. That’s unacceptable. That’s 100 percent on me. When you’re in the pocket, there’s two hands on the ball, when you’re having to see down the field, and something happens that’s a little different. If I’m going to drop back scared about fumbling I’m never going to make a throw or a play. There were completions today that we made that the only reason they’re being made is because I’ve got to be aggressive and fight to keep the play alive and find a completion. So finding that balance of protecting the football while being aggressive is ‘Welcome to quarterbacking in this league’, but I felt on the one that I fumbled that they returned for a touchdown, specifically that one, I was climbing the pocket, I didn’t want to take another sack, I had two people I could dump it to in front of me and I was just trying to dump it to him and I was just trying to pull my hands apart to dump it. The minute you don’t have two hands on the ball now it’s free reign for the defensive lineman to grab it and I thought he had me more on my lower half and I thought I could get rid of it, but he clearly was able to punch it out.

Q: Was the rushing touchdown just a perfect call for that situation?

A: Kyle Rudolph got me a really good block on the strong safety there. It’s one-on-one with him, so if that’s got block got to get made then I just read the end and pretty, pretty stand play. Both the receiver and Kyle did a great job of holding up to get me in there. I think it was another good play call and gives us some flexibility. 

Q: Will you continue your 2-0 streak with passionate pregame speeches?

A: You’ll have to ask Linval [Joseph]. It’s his show, I just do what he tells me. Try to keep him happy.

Q: Did Linval Joseph give you permission to make the pregame speech?

A: Yes, he told me on the flight back last week he said, “You got it next week.” I said, “Ok”. In pregame he just looked at me and just pointed and stared at me. That was enough for me to know I better bring it. I gave him the thumbs up, “I got it.” You’ll have to ask him.

Q: What is Latavius Murray’s greatest strength?

A: He is a good back. He runs downhill really well. He has good body lean. He has a nice spin move. He just runs with a forward lean that I think helps us and does a great job of protection. He catches the ball well and is a smart player. He is very conscientious and he’ll come over to me and talk about details in the game plan to make sure he is doing his job down to the proper step every time. That is when you know a guy is a professional. I think he is a total package there and has done a great job for us.

Q: Were you always confident that you would get that running balance you wanted?

A: I feel like it’s week to week so much. You just play the game that you have to play that week. When our defense is causing them to be 0-for-10 on third down and holding up and standing up the way they were, it’s just not a game to invite Chandler Jones to come wreck it and get them right back in the game. We were trying to run the ball and keep a great player like Chandler Jones from ruining the game. He still made plays, certainly. We didn’t want to play to his strength. Anytime you can run the ball it gives you that chance. It is week to week. Other games, I think the play was to drop back and throw it all over the yard. We’ll just see what each week calls for.

Q: Did you feel like converting Adam Thielen’s 3rd-and-13 was a turning point today?

A: I just think that is a hidden play, right. We went down and scored on that possession. If we don’t convert that, we are punting. The odds of converting a 3rd-and-13 with their pass rush are not high. We hadn’t been very successful on third down prior to that. That is a big deal. With how close the game ends up being, I think that is a huge play and it is kind of a hidden play because it’s not the one that scored the points or the one that people will talk about but that is a big, big play. Especially because they dropped. They weren’t bringing the house. It wasn’t like there were a lot of windows up out there. Took a great play and it was huge that we got that.

Q: What has the progression been of becoming more of a vocal leader and the team giving you the keys to lead?

A: I think we’re past that now in Week 6 going into Week 7, I think we’re past tiptoeing in. I think April, May to kind of feel your way through things. Maybe a little bit even in July. But once the season gets going, it is full team ahead and I have to be me and lead anyway I can and be assertive. If I have an opinion, I have to speak up. My temperament is one that usually not being very self-promotional and just do my part. At times, if I feel my need to speak up or share my opinion, I will certainly do that. I am more of a reluctant leader. When given the opportunity or asked to, then yes I will step up.

Q: How does Thielen continue to do so well when teams are focused on him?

A: We are going to get that. We are going to get that as the year goes on. Defenses are going to look at where does Stefon [Diggs] get the ball, when is Adam getting the ball, when is Kyle Rudolph getting the ball. Let’s situationally, formationally try to take away things and so we are going to have to play off that. That is why you want depth. That is why you want your team to stay healthy because they can take away. I saw Patrick Peterson at times was shadowing Stefon, so when he does that you know at least he can’t cover Stefon and Adam. Teams will try to take things away. We have to play that chess match and have an answer in return. That will be the challenge all year long.

Q: How important is having the balance with fun for this group?

A: That is a great question. That has been my biggest challenge as a pro. This game is so challenging and I feel when I take my eye off the ball for one second, I get beat. As a result, it drives you away from having fun. That is too bad because you want to enjoy this game and love it and have a blast and do it with a smile on your face. I’d like to think like Harrison [Smith[ said we can play at a high level and do it with a smile on our face and have fun. But that is a sweet spot that is hard to find sometimes. Something I am always working on, certainly.

Q: What happened with the delay of the game?

A: It was my fault. My fault. The ball has to get snapped. I was processing all they were doing as a defense and what to do in response and there was a lot of moving parts there and situational football. Knowing there were no timeouts of what I wanted to do and be smart with it. Can’t do that.

Vikings Wide Receiver Adam Thielen

Q: How nice does this win feel?

A: Any time you win in this league it feels good. Obviously being back at home and getting the win feels good, and the way that we did it. We got that running game going, our defense was playing fantastic, special teams was playing great. Obviously there’s a lot of things that we need to clean up, to make sure that we continue to win. It was a great team effort, and that’s what you want.

Q: What was the formula to set the running going?

A: Obviously a lot of it is dictated by the game situation, but it was great. Our offensive line is working their tails off, and it’s such a great group. Also the play calling, and the guys running the ball, and we are trying to do our part on the outside and get our blocks as well. When you’re all working together it can be a good thing.

Q: How different did it feel playing from ahead for a change?

A: It’s good. We need to be better at that, though. We weren’t doing the things that we needed to in order to close out the game, and we were putting a lot of pressure on our defense. When they’re playing the way that they played in that game, we need to make sure that we are doing our part as well. It’s going to be good to go look at the film and get better.

Q: What was the dance?

A: It was the ‘dead arm dance’ everyone’s doing it, it’s the cool thing.  

Q: What’s been the key to this offense, how don’t you get frustrated?

A: I think it’s because we know what we are capable of. We know what this quarterback can do, and this offensive line, our running game, and what us as receivers can do. We just have to have a great mindset in our room of taking it one play at a time, and not worrying about what we can’t control. Let it play out.

Q: What did you see in practice this week that made you feel like you could have success running the ball against this defense?

A: I don’t know if it was necessarily what they did, it was just that we need to run the ball to be successful in the long run and in the short term. We know we have to run the ball, and when we’re doing that we can be a dynamic offense and a really great team.

Q: Over 100 yards again, what do you have to say about that?

A: I feel like I sound like a broken record, but it’s such a team stat. When you have great players around you, that’s the only way you can do those things. We have so many great players, and great guys that are selfless. We have great guys, and I appreciate them. We have a great quarterback, and a great play caller. It’s just fun to have that. You want this team to be successful and do your part in helping them win.

Q: A 1,000 - yard season is a big milestone, and you might hit that by Halloween.

A: I’m not worried about that. There’s a lot of things that I need to do better. Stats sometimes hide the negative things, so I have to focus on getting better in the run game, and winning on every route. Continue to get better.

Q: Did you know you had that catch, even though it went under review?

A: Another example of Kirk trusting me to make a play. I knew that I made it, but when it goes under review, you never really know how they’ll interpret it. It was a long third-down conversion, but you hope that you can continue to drive the ball there and get to the red zone to score. Those plays are crucial.

Vikings Defensive End Danielle Hunter

Q: Did you think you could take advantage of the quarterback?

A: This is with any quarterback, if you get pressure on them they will have some trouble throwing the ball. It’s all about getting pressure on the quarterback.

Q: I know Anthony [Harris] worked a lot with the defense, what makes him so effective when he goes in there on those third down blitzes?

A: What makes him effective is most of the time the offensive line is mainly focused on the defensive line so he comes in where he is kind of hidden so he can go in there and make plays. 

Q: Are you the kind of guy that sets goals in the beginning the year for how many sacks that you wanted personally and checking it off or are you just playing out of your head?

A: I just go out there and play for my team and stick to the game plan and do whatever I need to do to make plays.

Vikings Wide Receiver Laquon Treadwell

Q: They showed a montage of all of Adam Thielen’s catches, what is it like to see him do what he has done through three games?

A: It’s amazing. He comes to work every week. He does things the right way. He is a great teammate. So with that, you can only wish the best for him. You wish the best for every player on your team and you try to put your best foot forward to help the team. He has done that, and he deserves it.

Q: How much has your confidence taken a boost from games like this?

A: Every game I am out there I try to do the best that I can and make the most of my opportunities. Every play that I touch the ball I feel more confident, as you would say. The best don’t stress; that is kind of my saying. So I don’t stress any more.

Q: The touchdown celebration? It is the first time it has really been rolled out this year.

A: I think we are just clicking more. Like you said, we have a new quarterback. Yeah we have played some games, but the Bills game shook us up as a chemistry. Not chemistry-wise, but the offensive side, we needed to let that go. We went out to LA and we played a good game as a team. I think we are clicking every week, better and better. Guys are getting more comfortable with each other, with what we like to do. I think everyone was saying if anybody scores we are dancing. That was kind of our thing for the week. We have had fun. Kirk got in there. I didn’t expect it and he let loose a little bit so it was all fun. I think we are just getting better each week with each other. Knowing exactly what it takes.

Q: What did you think of Kirk Cousins dead-arm dance?

A: No, what I liked the most was the cut that he made at the goal line. The dance was, it was alright, but the cut at the goal line was probably the most impressive move I have seen.

Q: Latavius Murray was saying part of having fun is playing well, having the running game going to open you guys up?

A: It was really amazing to see Latavius break the big runs. In this league you need to run the ball. Coach gave us a statistic two weeks ago, that the top team in rushing yards, regardless of what they pass, they make the playoffs. So that has been our mindset, get our pass down and work together to get the run game going. The screens are good, but we have to run the ball and we have to do it every week. We have to impose our will on defenses. It will really open up passing lanes down the field. Latavius showed up today. CJ led him out, and I think Boone had a great run and he finished strong. That is what we want to see out of our backs, and they are doing it.

Q: Kirk Cousins likes to throw you guys open, he has really shown a lot of trust in you and vis versa?

A: Yeah, I think it is just every week we are in there talking. I am watching film with him; he is telling me different scenarios and different things that he sees that I can do better. He speaks directly to every player about what they can do to help their game from his standpoint and progress. Every one of us take that as an ownership and we go out and try do it to the best of our ability. That’s where the trust comes in, where the chemistry comes in. We know where he wants us to be. It isn’t about us; it is about what he wants and we are doing a great job of continuing to do that.

Vikings Running Back Latavius Murray

Q: Coming in with the struggle in the, running game, how does it feel to get this win?

A: Good, because we’ve been wanting to run the ball like that all season. We wanted to take advantage of that.

Q: What does it mean to close it out with a big run like that?

A: It says a lot for the offense finishing with the ball and not giving them a chance to go down and score, or any of the crazy things that can happen at the end of a game. Given the opportunity to put the game away and to do it is huge.

Q: In the first quarter, you had some powerful runs with the stiff arm to get the touchdown, almost like you were taking out some anger maybe?

A: No, I’m just trying to use every ability that I have. Always trying to work to be better, especially the offensive line does a great job like they did today, getting me to the second level. The first explosive run I got, a guy tackled me, so I want to make up for those things. I want to do my part once I get to the second level, whether it’s making a guy miss or use a tool to finish the run and get in the end-zone, I was able to do that.

Q: What was different about the running game today?

A: I think the mentality. The offensive line getting me to the second level, and a combination of me, just running downhill with no hesitation. The mentality was set.

Q: What was the difference between the execution today and the attempt in previous weeks?

A: Again, I don’t want to sit here and say that we cracked the code. We have to be honest on all levels. I will say, I feel we are capable of running the ball that way every week, we have to, and we are capable of it. We have to figure out a way to do that no matter who we are playing. I think it’s good that we had that game, and we are able to get the run game going. Going forward we have to take the good that we put out there today and build off of it.

Q: Did it get frustrating in the past few games that you couldn’t get the run game going?

A: It’s frustrating. We have to continue to work at it. Continue to get better, to work and prepare.

Q: How much different did it feel to play from ahead today?

A: I wouldn’t say it’s much of a difference. We had the run game going today, so maybe the play calling obviously has to continue to create that mindset. Continue the pressure up front and continue blocking like we did. Whether we are behind or ahead, the mentality has to stay the same. Do your job and make the game the best you can.

Vikings Free Safety Harrison Smith

Q: Was there anything in the back of your head to not have another Bills type of game?

A: I mean you learn from those things and move forward, but we don’t dwell on them at the same time. We just want to come out and play a complete game.

Q: Is there kind of an upswing now with the way this team has been playing?

A: I think we have confidence no matter what. I think it is more of outside perception. We know if you win this weekend, next week and tomorrow is not guaranteed, so enjoy it.

Q: Forcing those turnovers and getting those sacks today, do you feel like you guys are getting back to that defense we are all used to seeing?

A: Honestly, I am kind of sick of people talking about the defense “we are used to seeing.” Every year is separate. This year is 2018 and that is what we are focused on right now. We want to be as good as we can be right now. That’s as simple as it is.

Q: Do you like seeing a quarterback as passionate as yours is in the pregame speeches?

A: Yes, absolutely. He walks the talk, he’s not a “rah rah” guy. He is a guy that is going to go lay it out there, run the ball for a touchdown, dive on third down, stand in the pocket and get by 300 pounders. He is the real deal.

Q: You pride yourself on sharing the load on defense. How is it seeing those young guys really working hard?

A: It is no surprise to us. It is hand work that those guys put in. Not just this week, but their whole careers. We have a lot of confidence in whoever is coming in and they are here for a reason. They stepped up and made huge plays

Q: What were some of the objectives of making that third down blitz package as successful as it was?

A: I don’t know about objectives, but we pride ourselves on getting to the quarterback. Whether it is four-man, five-man or six-man (pressure), we always want to do that. 

Q: It was nice to see the team having fun.

A: Sometimes guys on this team care so much and with so much pressure on yourself, you can forget how much fun you can have, not just as an offense or defense, but as a team.

Vikings Defensive Tackle Sheldon Richardson

Q: How much do you think it effects offensive line and what their seeing for protection when you’ve got linebackers and defensive backs that are crowding the line of scrimmage?

A: I don’t know, I just feel like it’s confusing because they can’t hear the calls that they’re trying to make.

Q: The way this game went in the second half, when a blitz is on and you know it’s on, the way it was going did you have a pretty good sense that this was going to work?

A: I always do. Great execution by us, coach was calling it, we ran it, and we got home with it. It was how you want it to be.

Q: How much different does it feel playing from ahead, you guys had to scramble for some wins but in this one, it was more just keep them from being able to spark anything?

A: I thought they opened the playbook a little bit more when we got ahead but they kept it condensed in a lot. They did a great job of protecting.

Vikings Safety George Iloka

Q: Do you think Diggs and Thielen are the top combo in this league?

A: Anytime you use the word top, you never know. But they are my teammates and I’ll take them over anybody. You name any name, any tandem, any team, I like us. In this locker room, I like us versus anybody.

Q: It is good to see Diggs and Thielen have fun too. Their dance moves and they are just letting it loose too.

A: They were having a ball out there too. As a team, we feed off of that and obviously the fans, they get really into that.

Q: And the fans were really excited to see you get in there and play. Knowing what you can do, how was it to get out there and do it in purple?

A: I was happy to get my feet wet again; that was pretty fun. I am definitely appreciative of the opportunity they gave me and bringing me along. I just try to go out there and play my game and help this team get a win. It definitely felt good. I would be lying to you if I said it did not.

Q: Was that what you expected this Vikings defense to look like?

A: Yeah, I came here because they have a really good team. They were real close last year and I wanted to help in any way I can. I just add to it whatever way they wanted me to. The way we have played the last two weeks is what they did last year. We just have to improve on that and just keep building. The sky is the limit.

Q: What is it like to see the guys up front especially a young guy like Danielle Hunter?

A: He is a monster. He just comes to work every day. He does not say much; he just works hard. I have not been with too many guys that practice the way he does. That is why he plays the way he does because he practices full speed and gives it his best effort. I have not been with him, obviously, the last few years, but from what I have heard, every year he has improved. You are seeing it now. I think he still has another level honestly. I think he is like 23 or 24; he is very young. He came into the league real young so I still feel like he has another level that he has not tapped into yet. Right now he is playing at a very high level.

Q: Practicing is one thing, but game speed alongside Harrison Smith, what was that like?

A: It felt great. We came up together and I played with him in the Senior Bowl for a little bit. I think I also had the Minnesota Vikings staff too. That is life full circle isn’t it? Anyways, it was cool playing with him out there. He is a pro’s pro, very calm, very collected. He was talking to me every play, just making sure we were on the same page. I know he knows I am a veteran, but the safety position, you have to be on the same page with your other safety, whoever it is. I appreciate him out there just making sure I was sound and that we were on the same page. He is a playmaker. When he got that sack, I am like, there that man goes again.

Vikings Linebacker Anthony Barr

Q: What do you do if they find your way and they’re on you?

A: I mean it is defense, so any time you have a chance to make a play, you got to make it. I’ll play my best games as they are. No excuses being made with that, and just playing better about blocking, just continue playing good defense for these guys, and trying to do that.

Q: Second half of that game when that blitz was called, you guys knew it was going to be a pretty good chance you were going to cause some trouble. They were having all kinds of trouble picking you guys up.

A: Yeah, he (Zimmer) called a great game. Kept them off-balance, mix up the coverages, mix up the blitzes and coverage, and we were able to execute for the most part. We had some things we needed to clean up, but for the most part, I thought we did okay.

Q: How different does it feel, playing from ahead? You guys have had to scramble a little bit in some games. First time you’ve been able to have a cushion and try to keep it.

A: It’s nice, it’s definitely nice.  We know the offense is very capable of going out there making big plays and scoring points, especially with the teams we’ve played with the past few weeks. If we do our job on defense, we are going to keep giving ourselves the chance to win.

Q: Let’s talk about the strip you had. It was a key play at a time that got the momentum shifted.

A: Yeah, just trying to get to the rock. Honestly, I wasn’t trying to strip the ball; I just poked it out, and it happened. Good things happen next to the ball, and I’ll try to keep doing that.

Q: Is that the defensive mentality after this game? It seems like everything is going the right direction, right?

A: We just got to continue to be aggressive, continue to trust the system, to trust each other, continue having fun with this. That’s the biggest thing; you saw us out there having fun today and playing with energy. When we do that, we have lots of success.

Vikings Offensive Tackle Brian O’Neill

Q: What was the key to the running game today?

A: Well all the props go to Latavius [Murray]. He was running hard and he was hitting that hole hard. Those yards were earned not given. The coaches put us in a great spot and at that point go out and try to do the best we can to give our team a chance.

Q: Talk about the pass rush. The pressure they were able to get on Kirk Cousins.

A: We will be able to get more into that once we watch tape and look at what happened. I won’t know what for sure what the deal was but we definitely want to be cleaner in that area and work on details in practice.

Q: How much pride is there with getting the ball with three minutes left and being able to end it right there by just running the ball?

A: It is something that we talk about all the time. When it comes down to those situations, they know we are running it and we know that they are running it. It’s us verse you.

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