Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
Good team win today. I thought we played well in all three phases. I thought it was, we made plays when we needed to. Third downs, I thought the offense made some great conversions. The drive that we had at the end of the ball game where we were milking that clock I thought that was huge. Go down there and kick the field goal. Anthony Harris made a nice play on the goal line to keep them to seven points. I thought we ran the ball efficiently today, had some big runs. We played good on special teams, I know we missed a couple of kicks but they are a very explosive special teams group and so overall I thought it was a good team win. I thought the crowd was a big factor today. They were loud, caused them to use some timeouts, actually got them to huddle here at the end so it was good. Good team win. Questions?
Q: Anthony Harris with the strip at the goal line and Stephen Weatherly made some plays... Is that kind of what you've been doing all year, getting different people to step up?
A: Yeah you know we've got some guys, it's good to see them get in the ball game like Weatherly and even at the end of the game we got some of those young defensive linemen in there. That's all big you know, these guys work their rear ends off all week long, all year long and get a chance to go in there and prove what they can do. It was good. We're going to need them down the stretch, that's just how this game works. Have to have a lot of depth and we're fortunate to have some good football players who aren't playing right now.
Q: What changed from that first Rams series after they went down and scored? Were there adjustments made?
A: Yeah I mean, they did a few things different but we just didn't play good in that first series to be honest with you. I don't know, we played much better after that. We played the run much better, we covered better, we pressured the quarterback a lot better. We messed up the one 3rd down that allowed them to keep that first drive going, we messed that up but other than that it's nice to say you made adjustments but the players played their butts off.
Q: The offensive line obviously controlled this game and controlled the clock. Can you talk about how they've developed?
A: Yeah you know they played great. Rashod Hill is in there for [Mike] Remmers. 99 [Aaron Donald] now, he's a handful, Robert Quinn is a handful. We gave up no sacks today. [Case] Kennum did a nice job with his feet and his arm. But the offensive line, thank goodness it's been the strength of our football team this year and I just like their toughness and their mentality and their grit and the way they go about their business.
Q: What did you think of Case Keenum's duck under to avoid the rush and find Adam Thielen on that one play?
A: Yeah…Um. It was a good ending.
Q: When Keenum plays the way he is, how does this affect your plan with Teddy Bridgewater?
A: Well the changes they're… It's going to be hard to yank him out of there right now. He's playing good. I still have really high hopes, you know a lot of things happen throughout the course of this season so we'll just see how it goes.
Q: Are there times where Case Keenum throws the passing play he did and you kind of think, 'Oh boy is that going to work'? And then it seems to work?
A: Well I don't really say "is that going to work."
Q: Well he launched it and do you think to yourself for a second that could be a pick?
A: I'm thinking a lot of things at that point. But, he's got a horseshoe right now.
Q: There's not a lot of time to savor this but at the same time from a national perspective this is kind of a statement game vs the Rams offense. Does this reinforce what you feel about this football team?
A: I know everybody was looking at it that way, you know we had to go out and prove it and all that stuff but I know this football team. I like this team, the way they work, we got a bunch of good guys. Win or lose today I think I know who this football team is. They're going to give it their all every single time. They're going to fight and battle. For the most part we're going to play smart. We did some dumb things today but for the most part we're going to play smart, we're going to play tough football. We take care of the ball usually and play the game the right way I think.
Q: Did you ever try to convey what the stakes were in terms of the conference and the playoffs standings and what you could do with a tie breaker now?
A: No, we never talked about that. We talked about this week and going forward we're going to talk about next week. We're just going to keep going one at a time. You can't birdie them all until you birdie the first.
Q: You talked about feeling good about the team and feeling good about this defense. Did you feel good about this defense going up against that offense?
A: Well they're really explosive. But, I don't know, I felt like we would play good today. I was surprised the first drive when we didn't play very good but I thought we'd play good today. Our guys study pretty hard and they have a lot of pride too. They didn't play as well last week as they did before so hopefully we can carry this forward.
Q: Do you think Latavius Murray has gotten better throughout this season?
A: Yeah I do. I think he's gotten better, I think he's running the ball physically. I also think that the offensive line is doing some good things. Each week is a different week. You line up against different guys, you have to figure out how to beat that particular team you're playing. The offensive coaches did a nice job, they've done a great job all year in protection and run game wise. I give them a lot of credit a lot of times, that I probably don't give George Edwards who has done a hell of a job defensively and the defensive coaches. They do an outstanding job. I've been kind of backing off a little bit on some of the days and they're doing a hell of a job. Lot of credit should go to them.
Q: Does Adam Thielen still surprise you?
A: It used to but he's just a playmaker. I think they named that show after him.
*Vikings Quarterback Case Keenum *
Q: What happened on the play to Adam Thielen?
A: I don't know. That one was crazy. We had called a little roll-out pass. Just trying to find somebody open down field. I don't know who it was that came around. Riley [Reiff] had to block forever. He was like, "I thought you were rolling out right." I think the guy he had he completely pushed all the way around. I just kind of ducked and did the "get small drill." We work on that in practice with Coach Stefanski, our quarterback coach. No, I'm just playing. Adam [Thielen] did a great job finding some space.
Q: Did you even see Adam Thielen at that point?
A: You think I just threw it to a space and hoped somebody was there? No, I saw him. I saw him.
Q: You talked about circling this game. Do you take special pride in this game?
A: I think I talked earlier in the week about circling the game, looking forward to it. Later in the week, I went more toward this is just another game, another team, another really good football team. For me, at some point this week, I looked at what this means and what we've done. I don't have to be anything but myself. If I put too much into this or if I try too hard, I hurt my teammates. I wanted to be here, talking to you guys after a big win. That was my approach I didn't get too high with the highs or too low with the lows.
Q: Did you talk to anyone beforehand about the emotions of this game?
A: I've got some good people giving me advice. Family, friends, coaches. I talked with Coach Zimmer. That was one of the first things he said this week, was "don't go off the reservation." My quarterback coach, too, we had a good, long talk about how to approach this mentally. It's business as usual. We do what we do, we trust our process. We have a process that we do every week. You trust the process. You go to bed every night confident you've done everything you can that day. I roll out there between the lines and confident knowing I've done everything I can and be the best prepared player I can be.
Q: How much did it help knowing the Rams defensive personnel?
A: It helps some. Obviously, playing against those guys, you do studies with teams as you are preparing for any defense. You try to learn as much as you can about them. Knowing all those guys for the most part, Trumaine [Johnson], Lamarcus [Joyner], [Alec] Ogletree, Mark Barron, and in the front, the guys that were there when I was there, I think it helps.
Q: All of the talk about your previous team and the quarterback situation here, how do you compartmentalize all of that and maintain a focus when there's so much noise going on around you.
A: I don't know. Well for one, I don't listen. I don't listen to what is going on. I don't pay attention to a lot of those things that don't matter to me, that don't matter to how I play. I go out and do my job. Obviously, some of it filters in. I've talked about compartmentalizing, and you said that. I know these opportunities don't come along very often. I'm not going to sit around and worry and wait and try to figure things out. That is not fair to the rest of my team if I do that because I'm not at my best if I'm using a percentage of my mind and worrying about other things.* *
Q: You've developed a very strong bond with the offensive line. How would you assess their development and will and being more dominant than the Rams defense?
A: Do you know how many games we've gone without a sack? Yes, six. That's awesome. Against that defensive line, another one today. I talked about Aaron Donald earlier in the week. I think he's one of the best players in the NFL. All of those front guys. They're really, really good. Robert Quinn, Connor Barwin, Michael Brockers. I've seen firsthand what those guys can do to opposing quarterbacks. For me, to not have a sack today, is incredible. Those guys are playing absolutely awesome. I love what they're doing. They're doing so well. They're communicating. All of those guys are doing great. You have to give them a lot of props. I think they were a big part of the win today.
Q: What was it like to have seven or eight seconds before dumping it off to David Morgan?
A: That was a crazy play. My initial two reads weren't there. The checkdown was covered. I felt I had a little more time. I just scoot over in the pocket. I had all these guys running down the field. I love David Morgan. I found him in the flat and the ball actually got tipped, so he made a good catch. Pounded his way for seven or eight yards. It was awesome. I didn't know what to do back there.
Q: There was a key roughing call on Aaron Donald. What happened on that play?
A: That was a crazy play. My initial two reads weren't there. The checkdown was covered. I felt I had a little more time. I just scoot over in the pocket. I had all these guys running down the field. I love David Morgan. I found him in the flat and the ball actually got tipped, so he made a good catch. Pounded his way for seven or eight yards. It was awesome. I didn't know what to do back there.
Q: What happened on that roughing the passer play?
A: I don't know. It happened fast. He [Aaron Donald] got off the ball and honestly I never saw him. I was looking down field and all of a sudden I feel him hitting me right there. I don't know. I have to watch the film, it happened so fast. He's so fast. I have to watch the film and see. I wasn't watching him. I was feeling what I was feeling.
Q: When you're playing the Rams defense, does it give you a special appreciation for their defensive line?
A: Yes, I mean they're really good. They're very talented. I've talked a lot about them, but I want to talk more about my offensive line and how well they played because they were awesome.
Q: Did you see Adam Thielen's touchdown before it happened?
A: Well, they were in cover zero so they were blitzing a lot of guys and that doesn't leave a free safety in the middle of field to help go tackle. We had a great play call, Pat (Shurmur) did a great job. The offensive line did a great job because they're bringing more than we can actually block and give me enough time to find him. Quick little throw and that's what happens.
Q: Was Kyle Rudolph's pass in the seam a sign of how much you trust him?
A: Yes. Rudy's a great target and there's a few times where I missed him, he's open. It's a matter of seeing the right thing, having the right reads. He probably should have had three or four more catches that I missed. I didn't throw it to him, but to have a guy like that, that was double covered that I could put up around his head. That was an awesome catch. He liked snatched it – special player. We've got a lot of guys out there that I can trust out there.
Q: Can you put six games without a sack into perspective?
A: I think Tom told me it was 199 or 299? 299 , that's the amount of attempts we've had without a sack in those games. Five sacks in 299  attempts. It's awesome. Those guys are playing so well. A lot of guys. Rashod [Hill] went out for a couple plays, so Jeremiah Sirles comes in. Pat [Shurmur] does a great job with protection. The whole week we're constantly communicating about things. I love those guys, I love them a lot.* *
Q: Does your play warrant the Vikings announcing you as the starting quarterback for the rest of the season?
A: If it is not broke, don't fix it. Let's keep doing what we're doing. If we do however we do and Coach Zimmer does whatever he does, he's the coach. It's his decision. I'm here to play. However he wants to do, I'm here. I want to be the best player for this team. I'm going to keep doing what I do every week and keep answering the same questions and just keep getting ready to play. * *
Q: How does Anthony Harris' strip at the goal line change the momentum on the sideline?
A: It was big. It was huge. I think it was 7-7 at the time. Is that right? So, they're going there inside at the 1-yard line and obviously, it's a huge play. It's a huge play. To be able to get a couple first downs too, for us. That was good, I don't what you call it – helping each other out. Defense helping out offense, helping out special teams so we can flip the field. That's what good teams do.
Q: You came out with the U.S. flag, how is that decision made?
A: That was an incredible opportunity for me. They talked to me, I think it was Friday or Saturday, talked about if I'd want to run out with the flag. One, I jumped at the opportunity. It was awesome. It was incredible. For me, being around the flag, being out there during the National Anthem – I am so thankful that I get to do what I do, because they're men and women out there that put their lives on the line and sacrifice so much and I get to play a game. I think it's pretty cool that we get to remember that and to run out with the flag, it's a little gesture, but it meant a lot to me.
Q: First time?
A: Yes. It really was, it meant a lot to me.
Q: When you have a player like Adam Thielen, how much confidence does that give you knowing he's going to make a play?
A: I have a lot of confidence in Adam. Obviously, you guys can see the kind of connection we have. I got a lot of guys out there. [Stefon] Diggs, obviously explosive player. Rudy [Kyle Rudolph], we've talked about him. I trust all those guys. Whoever's out there, whoever's in the huddle, I've got complete confidence in all those guys.
Q: Did you say something to Kai Forbath after he missed?
A: No, I didn't see him, but I've got 100% trust in him. Like I said last week, I wanted to kiss him after he made that 55-yarder in Washington. Nobody's perfect. He's helped us win games and he's a great player in this league. I have 100% confidence in him and will continue to have it.
Vikings Defensive End Everson Griffen
The best thing I like about our team is that we stay composed. Even through adversity and the tough moments in the game, we stay composed. We go out there and we fight and we stick together. We hold each other accountable and this is the best team I have been a part of. It's an excellent feeling being 8-2 in our division in the NFC.
Q: What were some of the adjustments that were made after the opening drive?
A: It was really no adjustments. It was play your keys. Todd Gurley is a downhill runner and on some of the plays he was holding behind his o-line and bouncing out. The checks we made was stay in your gap, man your own land, and that's what we did. Guys stayed in their gap and we made that one adjustment and it took care of itself.
Q: 8-2 right now. You guys have won six in a row and another big quality NFC win. Where are you guys at right now mentally and how do you feel with the momentum?
A: I feel like we have to just keep putting our foot on the pedal, keep it rolling, stay dialed in, stay paying attention to closer detail and do our job. Football is really simple. You line up the man in front of you, you beat him. And the guy next to you, you hold each other accountable and that's what we are doing.
Q: The Rams came in leading the league in the scoring. Did you guys take that as extra motivation to try and prove you could shut them down?
A: I think we take everything with extra motivation. We just went out there and did our job for four quarters. We stay composed, we stayed together as a team and we played together. That's the most important part.
Vikings Guard Joe Berger
Q: Does it feel good not letting Case Keenum get sacked?
A: As an offensive lineman, there's not a lot of stats you personally get, so as a team to be able to keep the sacks down and to be able to run the ball that's kind of how we are graded at the end of the day so it does feel good. We've just got to continue to build on it and keep it going.
Q: Can you talk about what it's like playing such a good defense?
A: That's one thing that when I started starting games, is that if you look for the easy defense in the NFL, it's just not going to happen. Some guys are exceptional, but no matter what team you're playing they have a good defense, there's not an easy week in the NFL. It feels good to end the day on a good note, and the win is the most important thing
Q: Is Riley Reiff the quietest guy in the locker room?
A: Riley doesn't talk unless there is something to talk about. He's a good communicator. He talks plenty. I wouldn't call him necessarily quiet, he's a good dude to have around.
Q: Can you talk about the improvement of the line from last year?
A: I think that it goes with my point of we have a room that kind of keeps their heads down and works. We look at the thing right in front of us, we don't look at pictures, or what happened last year. Our job is to play better the next play. So, we had a decent day doing that and that's great. We need lots of plays in Detroit, and we need to play that well or else it doesn't matter what we just did. I think that's what we have, is a group of guys who look ahead and try to build and keep moving forward.
Q: You mention leading by example, what kind of example is Riley Reiff leading by?
A: Just being a hard-working guy. He doesn't come in like he has all of the answers, he comes in like he wants to get better, and he tries to improve on his game just like the rest of us.
Vikings Safety Harrison Smith
Q. On developing an appropriate game plan to face the Rams offense?
A. That's something that our coaches, [Head Coach Mike Zimmer] Zim, [Defensive Coordinator] George [Edwards] and everyone is on top of— putting us in the right positions. They (the Rams) were about to go in there and [safety] Anthony Harris made a great play— that was big time.
Q: On the Vikings' defense being in the right places at the right time?
A: It's hard because they can watch film on you and see what you do, so they're going to draw things up to beat you. But if we can line up the right way and execute our techniques, it puts us in a great position.
Q: On how the defense has adjusted to mounting injuries?
A: That's part of the game and unfortunately that's what you deal with. Like you said, guys coming in and not missing a step, that's big time.
Q: On if the defense built momentum throughout the win over the Rams?
A: Yeah and I think our offense too— our offensive line protecting well and doing a great job in the run game. Then skill guys, [Quarterback] Case [Keenum] making plays, special teams played a great game as well, they have a great unit. It's a team game and they (three phases of the game) build on each other.
Q: Do you believe this was the cleanest game the Vikings have played given the stakes?
A: I know the score differential is the best we've had but its hard to tell without watching it. But a win is a win for us.
Q: Do you believe that safety Anthony Harris is just as effective as Andrew Sendejo?
A: I don't know, I think no matter who is on the field, we all depend on each other and have a lot of faith in each other so we know guys are going to make plays.
Q: On what adjustments the defense made after the opening drive of the game?
A: Sometimes, you're just not as good on your keys as you should be. It's hard to tell without watching the film. Sometimes they just make plays. They make good calls and they make plays. I think we just chilled out and focused on ourselves.
Q: On the importance of stopping the run and making teams one dimensional?
A: That's our goal every week. When you've got guys up front like we do and backers like us— guys like [Cornerback Terence Newman] T-New coming in and making plays — it makes it easier.
Q: Did the team expect to play with a lead for as long as it did?
A: We expect to do what we need to win, no matter what needs to be done. Fortunately we did enough to win.
Vikings Wide Receiver Adam Thielen
Q: Can you talk about your touchdown and what you saw as the play developed?
A: First, I was just trying to beat my guy across from me. I knew it was man coverage, and from there obviously Case [Keenum] put a good ball on me that I could catch and run. You know, Stacey [Coley] has been telling me just to run. Last week I looked back, so this week I just looked forward and ran as fast as I could.* *
Q: Did you look up at the Jumbotron?
A: Oh yeah. I always look up at the Jumbotron. Last week I looked back, and it probably slowed me down, so I just looked forward and ran.
Q: That play had to feel like a knockout punch in this game.
A: It felt good. We knew we wanted to waste as much time as possible, and go down there and score. We knew that was going to kind of be the hump to get over to seal the game.
Q: What can you say about Latavius Murray and his two-touchdown performance?
A: Honestly, those running backs and our offensive line, all the people blocking, receivers, tight ends, fullback, we just have a lot of guys that are willing to throw their body around. Obviously we have some really good runners. Latavius and Jerick [McKinnon] have been doing a really good job of finding holes and hitting them as fast as they can. It's really fun to have those guys on our team and fun to see them have success.
Q: How much did your offense wear their defense down throughout the game?
A: I think it's just a credit to our offensive line. Those guys are just playing at such a high level right now, and we feed off those guys. If it wasn't for those guys we wouldn't be able to do what we do. And then obviously the offensive coordinator and the coaching staff has done such a good job of mixing things in there and just kind of keeping us on rhythm. We need to keep doing that. We're already looking forward to Detroit. We don't have a whole lot of time to celebrate this win. We just got to move on.
Q: Speaking of rhythm, what can you say about Case Keenum and his progression from being an emergency starter in week two to his current form in week eleven?
A: I think each week he just understands what we kind of all like as receivers and as playmakers. He understands how we do things and how we like to get open, and he's just such a hard worker and he wants it so bad that it really has made it easy to have that transition. We love the way he plays the game. He plays with a lot of passion and gets us in the right spots. We're very thankful to have all those guys in that room. Even today Teddy [Bridgewater] did such a good job of talking to us on the sideline and telling us what he sees. It's obviously just great to have a really good group.
Q: Is this the biggest win of the season?
A: I think going in to this game we knew it was a big game for us, but I think every week feels like that. Next week is a huge game, and I think moving forward we got to keep doing that one game at a time. We have some tough opponents moving forward, and that was a tough opponent today. We're glad we won, but we got to move on fast to Detroit.* *
Q: Even when Case falls under pressure in the pocket, do you guys have confidence that he will make a play?
A: I think that's something that Case does really well. He's able to scramble and give us more time to get open. For us now it's just learning how he scrambles and what he's looking for and just getting open.
Q: Not every team has a leading receiver who's willing to throw his body around and block. You throw yours in there all the time.
A: I think that's just the mindset of all of us. Diggs is a guy who's doing a ton of blocking, and all of us as receivers know that that's what's going to help this team win games. We're not at all about individual stats or anything; we want to win game. It feels really good to win, so we want to keep that rolling.
*Q: Do you still feel like defenders are underestimating your speed? *
A: I don't really know. Honestly I'm just trying to beat the guy across from me. I don't really think so. I think guys are starting to respect what I do and what this team is doing. Moving forward we just got to keep it rolling and keep getting better because teams will start to kind of figure out what we like to do, and what we're good at.
Q: You and Randy Moss are the only Vikings to have amassed 900 yards through the first ten games of a season. What does joining such elite company mean to you?
A: Honestly I'm not even thinking about that. Obviously Randy is an idol of mine, a guy who made me want to play the game and made me want to play receiver. I'm very thankful for what he did for me and this game. Obviously I have a lot of respect for him, but I'm not really even thinking about stats right now or anything like that. Just trying to win games.
Q: Kyle Rudolph put out a solid performance today. What did you think of the catch he made between those two defenders?
A: It was impressive. But the crazy part about that is, it's almost weird because we expect that from Kyle. It's almost weird because that's not a normal play; it's a big time play and a big time catch. He does that all the time in practice and in games. We love the player that he is. He's just such a great teammate and just a selfless guy, a guy that puts his head out there and blocks and keeps grinding. It's good to see him making plays in the pass game.
Q: Your stats say you're one of the best receivers in the league. Do you think of yourself that way?
A: Not even thinking about it. I don't really care about my stats. This win feels great, and that's all I really care about.
Q: Some would call this a statement game by the Vikings. Would you agree with them?
A: I think every game is a statement game for us. I think we got to keep going because we got a tough schedule ahead of us. That was a really good football team today, and we're going to get a really good football team and a really good defense next week. We got to forget about this win fast and just move on because we got four days until Detroit.
Q: It looked like you were trying to set up a celebration after your touchdown. What was the celebration supposed to be?
A: I don't know. I got to keep it under wraps because I might use it next week.
Q: Case downplayed the whole rematch with the Rams storyline this week, but could you guys sense that it meant something a bit extra to him?
A: I mean I guess if I put myself in that situation, I would think it was a big game. But at the same time we get the same Case every week, a guy that just prepares and busts his tail and is in the quarterback room before everybody else is probably even waking up. Just the way he prepares is pretty inspiring, and I think that's why we've been able to do what we're doing. He knows the playbook and he knows the game plan better than anybody.
Vikings Safety Anthony Harris
Q: What happened when you forced that fumble in the first half?
A: "I saw there was an opportunity to get the ball out, the first thing was to make the tackle, and the second was try to punch the ball out. I gave a punch, felt the ball come loose a little bit and there was a recovery."
Q: How often do these opportunities to force a fumble occur?
A: I've practiced it a lot, punching at the ball. Keeping up with effort and maybe I'll get one and so today [the ball] was able to pop out.
Q: What does it mean to you that you stepped up for the team today?
A: I just try and be a contributor for this team, we have a lot of good players. I try to stay professional, keeping up with the playbook and the skills and techniques we've been using. Then, when the opportunity is given, go out there and execute.
Q: What did you see on the play of the fumble?
A: I was just playing the coverage, tried to disguise it a little bit. Then I got into position to make a play, then when the ball was snapped I used my eyes, right technique.
Q: Did you know if Cooper Kupp scored or not when you forced the fumble?
A: I knew he was short right away when I punched the ball I saw he was short of the goal line and I knew he was going to be down. I felt the ball come out so I figured he wasn't down. I was just excited about the turnover and try to get the offense on the field and get the momentum going the other way.
Q: Were you going in trying to force the fumble?
A: I'm going in definitely to secure the tackle, but that's definitely a play where you try and get the ball out.
Q: Thoughts on the defense as a whole?
A: We just try and stay together as a team. Each week we try and get better, work on what we do, fine tune the things we are doing and just try and play together as a unit on defense, create turnovers, create the momentum for the offense, and just play as a whole.
Q: What did you take upon yourself with Andrew Sendejo out?
A: I'm just trying to be prepared. I think I can be a big contributor in this league and for this team. Sometimes it is on special teams, today it was on defense. Whenever I go out there I just try and execute at a high level.
Q: Did anything change defensively after they scored a touchdown on the first drive?
A: No, just stayed together weathered the storm and just continued to be aggressive, but continue to be sound.
Vikings Fullback C.J. Ham
Q: What can you say about this team? It looks like you're on the verge of something special here.
A: We are playing great. We are playing as a team. We are playing very good, complementary football. We are playing good on all phases, just have to keep it going.
Q: What can you say about your quarterback playing mistake-free football today?
A: Case [Keenum] is a smart player, he's showed that all year. Everybody outside was worried about him because he wasn't the starter, but Case always prepares like a starter. He has played a lot of football and it shows.
Q: You're a Minnesota native, Adam Thielen and Marcus Sherels are as well, what can you say about playing for your home state?
A: It's a blessing. Obviously for me, growing up as a Vikings fan, and for my family. I love this organization, I love this team and I'm just ready to keep it rolling.
Q: What can you say about Adam Thielen, another Minnesota guy, did you play against him in college?
A: I played against him in high school and in college. We played against Detroit Lakes and [Duluth] Denfeld for all four years I was there. Adam is an unbelievable player, has a lot of confidence in himself and it shows on the field.
Q: Could you ever imagine he's doing what he's doing now, back then?
A: I mean we have the same story in that sense, we were both small school guys, didn't get recruited highly, but it really doesn't matter where you come from; it's all about hard work. Adam works very hard and he was a great inspiration to me last season.* *
Q: In terms of what's coming up for you guys, the next three games on the road, how big was today and how tough are these next three going to be?
A: Every single game after the break is going to be a tough game for us. It's great that we got the win today, obviously a great confidence boost, and now we play Detroit on Thursday. We have to get our bodies back and get ready to go out and get another win.
Q: First time for you, at any level, you've played on Thanksgiving?
A: Yeah, first time. Last year I traveled to this game but didn't suit up. This is my first time playing on Thanksgiving, which is crazy because Thanksgiving is always sitting at home getting ready to watch the football game.* *
Vikings Defensive Tackle Linval Joseph
Q: How important was it getting in and out of drives today?
A: They started off pretty fast. That first drive was 10 plays or whatever. We knew from that point on that we had to be on our P's and Q's. We got it done. We made some adjustments and we held them.
Q: Your adjustments were outstanding. They weren't able to move the ball until the last drive which was meaningless. What happens at halftime? What do you guys do?
A: At the end of the day when we play an offense the first 15 plays are scripted. They started very fast and after the first 15 (plays) everything mellowed out a little bit. We were able to overcome our adversity, we scored, it was 7-7 and it was like starting off 0-0.
Q: Is that what Coach Zimmer does well? Make adjustments on the fly?
A: Zimmer, our d-line coach (Andre Patterson), that's just how we play. We figure out where they are attacking and we adjust.
Q: What does this game do for guys look around the rest of the league and compare yourselves?
A: Don't compare us. Right now we are one team and we are taking it one step at a time, one game at a time, and we just want to finish on top at the end of the season.
Q: This seems like a pretty tightknit locker room. Is it more so then any other team you have been on?
A: Right now we are very in tune. One man down, next man up. Right now we have a good energy in this locker room and we want to keep going.
Q: What did you guys do to keep that offense off balance? Jared Goff has cut some people up this year.
A: We stopped the run. At the end of the day I feel like they are based off the boot leg and the run. If you stop the run then you stop the boot leg. You pretty much have them bottled up. We had some great pressure on him and we made him throw where he didn't want to. He put some in the ground. I feel like we did a good job today.
Vikings Tight End Kyle Rudolph
Q: What went right for you guys out there?
A: We knew it was going to be a 60-minute game. They're a great football team, a team that we expect to see again later down the road. We just knew that if we kept giving them body blows and chipping away, things would go in our favor. We knew we weren't going to win this game in the first half, and it was going to be won in the fourth quarter and we did that today.
Q: Can you touch on the offensive lines performance?
A: Yeah, those guys have played awesome all year. I don't think that they've gotten the credit that they deserve. The way they've played, the way they've protected the quarterback, and the way they just wear defenses down. You go back and look at a lot of our big rushing performances, it's not always pretty early. But it seems like in the second half these big runs just start popping.
Q: What is it about Case Keenum being so good when he scrambles?
A: I think it's where he's comfortable. It's one of the first things that he said when he came into the huddle. "You know hey, I like to run around a little bit so don't give up on plays." I think he's just comfortable with his legs and can extend plays.
Q: Do some of those plays where Case Keenum scrambles still surprise you?
A: Yeah, he got out on one today where I'm down the field and I saw the replay. Just the way he was able to duck and get out and hit Adam (Thielen) while taking a pretty big hit was incredible and was huge for us.
Q: Today was a big victory, wasn't it?
A: Yeah, it was a big win for us, but it doesn't mean anything if we don't go to Detroit this week and play well. We have another short week and we're going to go play a team that we'll be battling for a playoff spot here in about a month or so. It's a great win, you definitely don't get to enjoy it very long when you turn around and play four days later. So, it was big for us to come out and play well today in a big game
Q: Do you think your catch and Adam Thielen's catch were you guys shining when you had to?
A: Yeah, I think like I mentioned before our philosophy all day was just body blows, keep wearing them down. We kept running two and three tight ends, C.J. (Ham), trotting big people out on the field and just wear them out. Next thing you know Latavius (Murray) pops out for a big run, we hit Adam (Thielen) for a big touchdown and that's when the big plays happen. It wasn't always pretty early, but we just wore them down and we got some big plays.
Q: Do you guys look at where you are at in the standings?
A: Pat (Shurmur) has been preaching it to us all year. You look around the league and why not us? Why can't it be us? We could beat ourselves and that could be why it can't be us. We try and go out each and every week and not beat ourselves. We have a pretty good defense that we play with and they usually set us up in pretty good situations and we have to take advantage.
Q: Do you guys on offense have the mentality to sacrifice your body this year?
A: Yeah, I mean I think everyone's laying it all on the line on every play. Like today we were in multiple tight ends, fullback, big people personnel and grinding them up in the run game. We still had receivers in there blocking downfield and making huge plays when their number was called. Today was a huge team win for us, and we needed everybody.
Vikings Left Tackle Riley Reiff
Q: Can you talk a little about going back to Detroit?
A: We're going up there and trying to win a game, and that's about it. We have a short week and a lot to prepare for, they're a good team.
Q: Was it an option for you to go back to Detroit?
A: You can ask my agent that.
Q: What are you most proud about how the offensive line has played?
A: We stick together. I think we play hard. We have some stuff we have get better at and clean up some stuff, but we go out there and we stick together.
Q: Does the amount of games that Case Keenum hasn't gotten sacked give you guys pride?
A: Yeah, Case does a good job at getting rid of the ball and he's pretty squirmy. He got out of that one today and he's playing great. Hats off to him and we know we have a big one coming up this week.
Q: Did you think it was extra special today for Case Keenum against the Rams?
A: Yeah, I would assume so, he did great.
Q: What did you do to get the running game to open up late in the game?
A: The running backs did a good job. They've been running the ball hard, great vision, and Case (Keenum) has been putting us into great plays, and it's been fun.
Q: Can you talk about Latavius Murray's dive to score on the goal line?
A: Latavius (Murray) is running the ball really hard right now. The first tackler is usually not bringing him down. It's awesome to have him on this team.
Q: Was that play where Case Keenum had eight seconds to throw credible to the line?
A: Yeah, however long he needs he does a great job and he did a great job today. We have to move on, it's a short week and we're on to Detroit.
Q: Was today a complete win?
A: There's stuff we have to clean up. But wins are hard to come by in this league. Hats off to the Rams, they're a great team and we knew we were going to have to go out and fight for 60 minutes.
Q: Considering what was at stake, did this feel like a playoff game?
A: Yeah, every game we just go out there and try to win. This was a big game, and the crowd was great today. It was fun getting a W.
Vikings Offensive Tackle Rashod Hill
Q: It seems like no matter who is in the game everyone is stepping up. Thoughts?
A: Yeah, we are. They feed off each other. I know [Mike] Remmers plays a certain way, so I have to step my game up to his way. We all have expectations that we hold everyone accountable, go in there and do your job, win your one-on-one battle, coach always preaches about it. That's what we do, we try and go in there, move the ball, run the ball, every offensive line loves to run the ball. We just like going out there and moving the ball and having a good day.
Q: Latavius Murray runs hard doesn't he?
A: Oh yeah, he's a big guy. We love when Murray gets the ball because he will get a yard or two yards by just getting hit and falling. He's a powerful, big back. We love him and Jet [Jerrick McKinney] and can't wait for Cook to come back. Whoever they put out there, we will block for them and we are going to make sure they're good.
Vikings Cornerback Terence Newman
We haven't started all that great the last couple weeks going back to Cleveland. I think it's something where guys are in a sense of heightened state and feeling rushed. Once we kind settled down I think everything else fell into place and guys did what they have been coached to do and what we did all week in practice. Just played technique and played the call.
Q: You seemed especially amped up today or something with the hits you were laying down. Could you just talk about the way you played today?
A: We have a lot of really great football players on this team and on our defense especially. You can go from the right side to left side. Everybody just does their job. We come in and we believe in each other. Coaches put us in position to make plays. When you have the opportunity you have to make them.
Q: Can you talk about the way Anthony Harris played today with Andrew Sendejo out? He seemed to kind of step up and thrive in the role.
A: Him and Sendejo sit pretty close to each other. He's helping out along the way and he played lights out today. He's played good when he's had to. I think his rookie year he had to come in and play and start a couple games. The sky's the limit for him as well.
Q: Being able to neutralize their ground attack which is usually pretty potent. What is the key to that you would say?
A: You see those numbers. 98, 99, 97, 93, 92, 91, 54, 55, I mean, those guys are unbelievable up front. When you got guys that can get after the quarterback, you just have to be in position in the back end to cover guys. Even when you get in a situation where they have to pass. Those guys pin their ears back and get after the quarterback.
Q: Can you talk about what's building here?
A: We got a lot of games left. There's a lot of different things that can happen so I just take this thing one week at a time and stack as many as possible. Once we get to the point where the last game of the season happens, hopefully we are in a good position. That's the goal. For me, teams are judged after you finish the season. A lot of guys want to talk about how we have strung a couple wins together. We got eight. For me, I have been doing this way too long. I know things can go south just as quick as they can go the other way. Everybody wants to poke at last year and how we started 5-0 and that's always come up especially after the bye week. For me, it's just focus what we have at hand and when everything settles we can worry about that.
Vikings Defensive Tackle Tom Johnson
Q: Todd Gurley with an early touchdown, then shut down after that. What was the key there?
A: Everybody was doing their assignments, we didn't jump out of gaps, lane discipline, and if it's your turn to make the play, make the play. It's all about discipline and not being selfish.
Q: What's your thought process moving on?
A: Continue to build on what we are doing. I'm pretty sure Coach Zimmer will find a lot of things that we did wrong and have to capitalize on. We tend to play with a chip on our shoulder.
Q: It seemed like Jared Goff had some issues with the crowd noise, was that an issue today?
A: We had a little trouble with the crowd noise also. They were doing a lot of adjustments, coaches wait until the last second to give us adjustments on the defense, and we were checking also. That caught us off guard the first and second series. Once we were able to calm down, we were able to capitalize on it.
Q: You mentioned calming down, after their first opening drive you didn't need to change anything, you just needed to calm down?
A: Definitely, you know how it is when you first get out there, every guy's trying to make plays and everyone's trying to be aggressive. Coach Zimmer was able to tell us to calm down and do your assignment, don't try to do too much, so we can capitalize.
Q: The drive where they almost scored and you see Anthony Harris come down and make that play at the goal line.
A: Huge play. He's a young guy, he's starting to be more aggressive, know what's going on, and study well. He's been able to come in since Andrew Sendejo's been down and step up and make big plays for us.
Q: You guys were able to get off the field on third downs, how crucial was that for how well you played today?
A: That was the emphasis this week. They are good on third down so it was a challenge to be able to stop them and put them in bad situations, so it wouldn't be an easy run for them to get a first down. We were able to do that and it ended up paying off for us.
Q: 8-2, that's good.
A: That's huge right now, we have the visiting game next week. We are playing in their house so we have to lock in, get ready, and get focused.
Vikings Linebacker Eric Kendricks
Q. How did your defense shut down running back Todd Gurley?
A: We just played our keys, just played team defense. That's what it's always about. We have a bunch of guys who are thirsty and angry to be successful as a team. It's fun to play against and it's fun to be a part of.
Q: What does it mean to this defense to match up well against one of the best offensive lines in the NFL?
A: I feel like we just have our own standard. It's always on us. It's not about what they're doing; it's always what we're doing. We've got a good group of guys. People adjust— people go down and people step up, and it's awesome to see.
Q: On how the team will prepare for the Detroit Lions on a short week?
A: Just go back into the film and get to it. We've been doing this for a while now and just developing a routine and how to study. Like you said, it's a quick turnaround. We've got to let this one go. It was a good win, but we've got to let it go soon. We'll enjoy it over the next couple of hours but, the turnaround is quick so we've got to get our mindset on Detroit.
Q: On how he would assess the second quarter tackle for loss two plays before the Rams' fumble?
A: That was a huge stop (forced fumble) by [linebacker Anthony Barr] Ant. We protect the paint and this is a game of inches. [defensive end] Stephen's [Weatherly] tackle was great—
we played as a team. No matter what happens, we choose to stay together.
Q: On Stephen Weatherly's second quarter tackle for loss?
A: It was just a regular direct key run fit. They had good pressure, good penetration on the front side. He tried to cut it back; I was there. He tried to bounce it; Stephen was there. Everyone just vice tackled him. That's what we're supposed to do.
Q: On the impact of Anthony Barr's forced fumble?
A: That was huge for us. That was a big time play in a crucial situation. That (would have) put them first and goal. He (Barr) made a tackle. We kind of came in there together. I didn't even see it, I just heard the crowd. It was a huge play when I saw the replay.
Q: How much did an emphasis from the coaching staff on third down situations pay off?
A: I think everything they emphasize, we take to heart. We just apply it. It's gotten us this far and we're going to keep doing it.