Thursday, October 24, 2019
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
Good win tonight. I thought, obviously, there was a lot of things we have to clean up. For us to be able to take the ball and run eight minutes off the clock there at the end was big. We have to do a better job, obviously, with penalties. We have to play better pass defense than we did in the first half. Defensively, we played much better in the second. So overall it was a good win. I liked the toughness of this football team. They fight. I think it showed in a lot of different ways. I told them at the end there, we got 10 minutes left, we got a 10-point lead, let's go put this thing away. But I think that's a sign of a good football team.
Q. Last week Bill Belichick talked about intentionally committing offense penalties to take time off --
A: Yeah, we did that tonight. (Laughing) they didn't decline them though, so. They took the penalty.
Q. How do you feel about being 6-2 and in relatively good health?
A: Well that's good. It's been a little bit against my nature, but I've taken care of these players pretty good, so hopefully we can continue to stay healthy. I think there's a good chance Adam [Thielen] will be back next week. And we're pretty healthy tonight, I believe.
Q. What can you say about Dalvin Cook, mainly receiving on a night you didn't have Adam Thielen, he helped in the pass game, obviously.
A: Yeah, Dalvin's a great player. He can do pretty much anything he needs to do. We thought we had an opportunity to get some screens in against them tonight and that showed up quite a few times. So that was one of our goals is to get some big plays on screens. But it was nice. And Dalvin made some great runs, I thought [Alexander] Mattison made some great runs, but none of it could happen without the way the offensive line continues to fight and scratch and open up some seams.
Q. How much confidence did you have that you could punch it in right before halftime with the run there?
A: Well, they got a good defensive front and they play hard. They got some very good players. They got an extra guy in the box almost every single play. And so I don't know how much confidence we had in it, but I always have confidence when Dalvin or Matty's got the ball.
Q. Kirk's play, Mike, his performance?
A: I thought he played outstanding, really. He was 23 out of 26 or something. He made some really good plays. The one play that he was getting pressure and he threw the ball to, I guess, it was somebody over the middle, maybe Irv [Smith Jr.], and got the first down. That was big. They were taking away a lot of the shot plays that we had tonight, so we had to be a little bit more methodical as we went along.
Q. That third and nine play from your own 10-yard line that he hit Diggs for the 39-yard gain. Is that a throw that maybe he doesn't make last year that's, it's really tight window throw, is he more confident?
A: Are you talking about the long one or the --
Q. Yeah, it was the 39 yards, third quarter.
A: Was it the down the sideline or was it the slant?
Q. Yeah, down the sideline.
A: No, I don't think so. I think he throws a really good deep ball and the timing on that one was pretty good. The guy had [Stefon] Diggs covered pretty well, but Stefon went up and made a nice play on it.
Q. With the offensive line last week you said you heard a little extra chatter from them. And again tonight it seemed like they were almost getting under the skin of the defensive line. Did you sense that same kind of edge this week?
A: Well, I know defensive players do not like to get cut and the more times we get those guys on the ground and they have to get up, they don't like it. So I think that leads to a lot of it.
Q. How did you feel about Adrian Peterson coming back and it was kind of, he was the past and Dalvin was the future, and then they kind of embraced there after the game.
A: Yeah, I didn't see them embrace. But, yeah, I thought Adrian ran the ball hard tonight.
Q. You always try to get game plans against backups in case they come in, but on a short week how much were you able to game plan for Dwayne Haskins?
A: Well, we saw him in the one game, so we had a little bit of an idea. So short week, obviously, is a lot harder, but we, our coaches do a good job.
Q. How do you feel like Kirk handled making sure he executed what you guys wanted to do on offense versus him and the motivation of him facing his old team?
A: I thought he handled it well. We talked during the week. And you always have a little extra motivation when you're playing your old team. You're always trying to prove that they were wrong for letting you go or whatever the reason was. And so I thought he handled it really well. He's playing outstanding right now. He's been on a nice roll for the last four ball games and we're hoping it continues to stay that way.
Q. Coming into this week, did you have any sense that could be like a 19-9 type of a game?
A: I knew it would be tough, I really knew that. I was shocked when I looked up at the scoreboard and it said we had 428 yards and they had 200 and the score was a 10-point game. So I figured it would be a tough game, but sometimes you just don't know when you get, when you're facing a team that is 1-6 or whatever they were, but they fought, they played hard.
Q. You had the short week this week. Now you've got extra time for the next game. How do you make the best use of that time?
A: I think the players need some time off. We're halfway through the season. I'll bring them back Monday. Give them off this weekend and get them back Monday and we'll work out and watch tape and do the things that we need to do and then get ready for Kansas City.
Q. You mentioned the screen passes. How much did the aggressiveness of their front, the way they played things, kind of give you a sense that you could do that?
A: A lot of it did. Trying to get -- and I think one of the things you saw in our screen passes is the offensive line got out and they cut. And, again, they don't like that. And most of the offensive linemen don't like to do it either, but they understand how important it is now.
Q. Xavier had a couple of penalties in that first half before you had him come out. Are you seeing enough from him --
Q. Xavier Rhodes. Is he playing hurt?
A: Honestly, there was a couple plays in there that they're catching a hitch and they got it for the first down. I'm talking to him about being over the top on receivers because that's what we're trying to do. And I always tell them, if they throw those balls then I need to change the coverage. Now the one down the sideline that was pass interference, whew, I don't know. I mean, I would have challenged it if I thought that there was any chance of them overturning it, but I got a thing in the e-mail today they haven't overturned any so I said screw it.
Q. Are you seeing him, is he frustrated at that point with a lot of those calls? He's had seven in eight games, seven penalties in eight games but especially the --
A: Hey, this guy has to play like a power forward. That's how he has to play. That's his game. If he doesn't play like a power forward -- he's not going to play like Mackensie [Alexander] or Mike Hughes or one of these little guys. He's got to play as a power forward and if he gets some penalties he's going to get some. We talk to him about getting his hands in the right place and don't grab and those things like that. But his game is being a power forward and that's what he has to do.
Thursday, October 24, 2019
Vikings Quarterback Kirk Cousins
I’ll just start by saying it was a great team win. Every week is different and we got the ball with eight and a half minutes left whatever it was and we said, “Hey let's put together a drive here and run the football,” and we did it. Would have loved to have been better in the red zone. I think we had a couple penalties there that made it hard on us to get touchdowns and there were probably a couple of plays I would like back in the red zone, couple plays here or there. But for the most part I think we played the game that was called and did a great job converting some long third downs. Defense made a tremendous play on the interception to get us out of the hole when we didn't get it on that fourth down. I think good teams can win a variety of ways and I think we have didn't doing that the last few weeks and I continue to just be impressed with the way we have run the ball. I think that's going to be important for us as we look to the second half of the season. So just continue to be pleased with our team, our offense, our plan, and we just got to keep going from here.
Q. You were number one in red zone percentage heading into this game. What didn't work today that had worked before?
A: I think penalties hurt us. When you get to first and 20, that's tough. And then I think if you watch the tape, you'll see there were, I think there were guys open a couple times where I could have probably cut it loose. I was trying to work somebody else and sometimes you go through your reads too quickly and you say no to a guy and you don't wait long enough to let him create separation. So there were probably a couple of those. But ultimately you get a couple penalties and you're kind of hamstrung down there.
Q. Given how tumultuous the first few weeks of the season felt how do you feel about being 6-2 and on a pretty good run with a relatively healthy team right now?
A: Yeah, you know, pleased with where we're at. We could easily be worse; we could easily be better. We're 6-2. I think we have got everything in front of us, and we got to go out and prove it the second half of the season. But we have put ourselves in a position now where the second half of the season is going to be there for the taking and so that's a really good thing.
Q. Given how aggressive their front is, how much did that make you feel like the screen game was going to be there to try to develop that?
A: A couple of those screens were hit in two minute, so that's a very different situation than a second and long when you're selling play action or whatever it may be. But we had a couple screens where we were off play action, a couple were off a drop back, a couple were just in the two minute. And the key is what those guys do with the ball in their hands once they get it. And then the ability of our linemen to get out on people and our receivers and tight ends to block. So those are big plays throughout the night and really set up that touchdown at the end of the half.
Q. Nice to beat the team that didn't give you a long-term contract?
A: No, I think that we won the game and that's all that matters and that's all my focus is on. And they were a tremendous place to go to work for six years and I just have the best of memories of my time there.
Q. So nothing special about that, though, beating them?
A: I'm just happy we won. I'm just thrilled that we won the game. That's what it's all about.
Q. The third and four touchdown run by Dalvin Cook at the end of the second quarter when that call comes in, what are you seeing, what confidence level do you have that you can get in on it?
A: From the four-yard line I had my doubts, but you also have, there's other options I can do on that play and they gave us the defense to keep the run on. If they hadn't then you're obviously going to have an answer, but they gave us a defense and we ran it and just a great job by him to finish the run and a great call. I thought it was really helpful to manage the clock in such a way that we moved down the field, got a touchdown, but also didn't give them enough time to be able to do something with it once we kicked off. So really well-managed two minute. I think a lot of the credit goes to Kevin for the screens he called, the things he dialed up, and then the final run was a tremendous run by Dalvin.
Q. Are you surprised by how good Stefon Diggs is running, maybe he's a lot more open than you think on certain routes?
A: Yeah, I mean I've played with some great receivers. He's right up there with any of them and he was big time tonight. I think the biggest play he made was probably the go ball he caught on third down when we were backed up near our own end zone. If you have to punt from your own end zone and you don't have a lot of momentum and then it's third and long, and he runs that go ball and makes a big play and basically he gets us out to midfield as a result. That was enormous. And that's just a special player who can run by somebody and make a great catch. He's very, very talented.
Q. What did you see on a play like that when he's covered and just like the probability of making that catch? You have to have a special trust in somebody. What do you see when you know he can make that play?
A: Yeah, we hit one similar last week down the same sideline against the Lions to him. It's just a belief that he'll track the ball, he'll have that extra gear when the ball's in the air, he'll find it and go get it and I got to trust him. You got to throw the anticipation and that's what go balls or double moves are all about. He hit a couple the last couple weeks. And you also hope that when he can do that and go over someone's head that you can throw some underneath stuff because they have to be ready for the fact that you've proven you can run by them.
Q. You greeted a few Washington teammates after the game. What did you say to those guys you had gone to war with so many years?
A: I just saw, Morgan Moses was an example, and he was a young right tackle in 2015 when I was in my last year of my contract as a rookie and I was going to start and he stepped up and played his butt off for the entire season and just did a phenomenal job. And his growth and his hard work was a big reason why I was able to have the success I had and then go on and be able to be in the position I'm in. So I just wanted to say to him, “Thank you. Thank you for the way you worked, the way you developed yourself because of what it did for me in my career and my family.” And I went on and on with guys, Ryan Kerrigan, Matt Ioannidis, Jonathan Allen, they're really good football players and really good people over there, and I just wanted to tell them I appreciated them and the impact they had on me.
Q. With those guys on the field, was it anything different than a normal game because you know so many of those guys?
A: Yeah, you know them. I honestly just wanted to go about my business so I wasn't trying to chat them up in between timeouts or breaks, that kind of a thing or in warmups pregame. I just wanted to go to work and get the job done. And then after the game certainly tell them how much they mean to me and also try to convey that this week, too, leading up to the game.
Q. Dalvin had 171 total yards today. What makes him so special?
A: He's hard to bring down. He's obviously got some elite movement skills and he's just as dangerous catching the football because once the ball's in his hands, whether it's a hand off or a reception, the ball's still in his hands. And so that's the key is just finding ways to get him touching the football. Once it's in his hands good things happen. So he's just got elite movement skills; he's hard to bring down.
Q. How do you feel being 6-2 at the mid-point, especially since a month ago you guys were 2-2 and people were questioning the team?
A: We put ourselves in a position for the second half of the season. It's going to be right there for us and we got to go out and do it. 6-2 doesn't mean a whole lot if you don't turn the last eight games into something special. And we got some big-time games up ahead. These aren't going to be easy opponents. We're going to be playing in tough environments against really good football teams, so the work doesn't get any easier from here.
Q. The way things transpired offensively tonight, did it feel different from the last three weeks? Coach Zimmer said he looked up at some point in the second half and he was like, “Wow, 400 yards, 10 point game.”
A: Yeah, we did so many things so right and we just -- the game is about points. That's why we were so happy last week with 42 points because that's all that matters. You can talk about different stats but when you're 5-5 in the red zone and have 42 points, that's the most important stat. So to only have 19 even though we felt like we were doing great things offensively all game long, converting third downs and moving the football, completing passes, yeah, it's a little frustrating to leave stuff out there and it was a variety of reasons. But, again, when you get in the second half of the season we have got to be able to get down the field, get past midfield, get to the red zone. We got to get touchdowns and not settle for field goals or worse.
Q. That quarterback sneak there, what did you see from your vantage point? Why that didn't develop?
A: Yeah, you know, I thought it was there. That nose guard over the center and both my guards were uncovered, so I felt like it was basically a three-on-one. And the key is how much do you need to get? I basically needed to get three quarters of a yard, I mean, this wasn't a yard and a half. So I thought, if they load up those gaps you can't do it. But I thought it was a three-on-one basically with my guard, two guards and our center on the nose and I just got to find the soft spot, and for whatever reason it didn't happen. Credit the nose guard for the Redskins. He must have done a great job holding his ground and he's a good player. But that one was tough, obviously interception bailed us out, but I would have loved to have hit that and then been able to get kept that drive alive.
Thursday, October 24, 2019
Vikings Tight End Irv Smith Jr.
Q: It did not seem like that big hit affected you very much. Did it?
A: It didn’t really. I try to pride myself in being a tough player out there whether it’s in the run game or the pass game. Whatever I have to do to make plays and help the team win, I am all for it.
Q: How does it make you feel to see Dalvin [Cook] and the offensive line do so well?
A: It’s special. This whole group is special. I am a young guy coming in, but they have embraced me, and I have embraced them. I just try to come and show them that I am one of the guys too and that I can come out and make plays as well.
Q: What did you think about the standing ovation the fans gave Adrian Peterson?
A: It was definitely cool to see. Growing up as a kid, I have watched Adrian [Peterson] run the ball like no other, so it is crazy to have the opportunity to be on the same field as him. It’s cool seeing guys that I grew up watching playing against.
Q: How do these last few wins help build momentum for the road game at Kansas City?
A: This was a big win for us. It was a short week, but it just shows how we wanted to come out with a W and move on to the next week.
Thursday, October 24, 2019
Vikings Wide Receiver Stefon Diggs
Q: Do you understand that some games are going to be ugly?
A: Yeah, I realize that’s going to happen. I will always take a win 100%. It was a short week, so you have to take that into account. We still got to execute the best we can. We got off to a shaky start. I will take all the blame for that because of my fumble.
Q: What do you think about tonight’s game?
A: I left some yards out there on the field. It was a good day team-wise. We ran the ball efficiently, and Dalvin (Cook) caught the ball efficiently. We had a solid night and time to move forward now. We got a big game next week.
Q: Did you notice any differences in the coverages without Adam Thielen out there tonight?
A: No, not really. They just played the same defense that we expected. They have played a match up defense all year, so I expected that no matter who was playing. The scouting report said some guys were injured, so I had to watch enough tape that prepared me for everything.
Q: Is it hard to stay focused when you guys aren’t in a rhythm on offense?
A: The biggest thing is focusing when the offense is struggling. The main reason for that is not executing well. My main focus is to take it one play at a time and that’s how you’re going to have success.
Q: How much spark does it provide you on the sideline when Anthony Harris gets that interception?
A: That was big because we just came off a bad drive. He came up with a big interception after the ball was thrown high. He made a play for the team. It’s the same thing that the defense always does. They have our backs and make big plays.
Thursday, October 24, 2019
Vikings Safety Anthony Harris
Q: How do you feel the defense played tonight?
A: We didn’t give up a touchdown, but I think we all expect to play better. They made some plays, were able to drive and get in field goal range, so ideally, we want to be able to hold them early on the downs so that way we can force them into a punting situation and keep them from getting points.
Q: Adrian Peterson keeps on going. How was it facing him?
A: He seems like he is still in solid youth. He is still out there hitting some amazing jump cuts, still playing at a high level. Hats off to him for continuing to go on, continuing to battle.
Q: Are you happy with a 6-2 record going now into basically 10 days off?
A: Anytime you can get a win is good. Right now, to be sitting at 6-2, we realize we still have a lot of work to do. We are halfway through the season, so we just got to keep our head down and keep plugging.
Q: What can this defense get better at in your eyes?
A: Today we didn’t do as good on first and second downs. We let them drive the ball a little bit even though we were able to hold them from scoring touchdown drives. We still feel like we can improve in that area.
Q: You talked about how big of a play your interception was, how much do you think that created another spark for the offense to get back out there after not getting the fourth down attempt.
A: Here we are just continuing to believe in each other. Last week the offense helped us out, put a lot of points on the board so the defense was able to gather ourselves. Anytime we go out there we tell them to play and let it all loose and we got their back.
Thursday, October 24 2019
Vikings Linebacker Anthony Barr
Q: Are you happy with the defensive effort tonight?
A: We gave up four touchdowns last week in the red zone so limiting those was a big emphasis coming into tonight. I was glad that we kept it to none.
Q: Was it a big change when Case Keenum left and the rookie Dwayne Haskins came in?
A: They ran a lot of the same stuff and I don’t think that they were attacking the football vertically down the field as much, which is expected when a young guy comes into the middle of the game. Overall, we did a good job of limiting their play in the second half.
Q: How does it feel to be 6-2?
A: It feels good. We are giving ourselves a good chance and putting ourselves in a good position. It is only half way through the season, so we have to finish strong and stay on the gas.
Q: You guys seem to keep on winning, whether that’s gutting one out, an ugly win or a pretty one?
A: It is important. We must keep the momentum going, continue to ride the wave, and keep playing together which I think is the biggest thing. We played together today, and I think that showed.
Thursday, October 24, 2019
Vikings Left Guard Pat Elflein
Q: What do you think about being able to run the ball even when the other team knows you’re going to run?
A: Being able to eat the clock up and run the ball was huge. It is something we try to do on a consistent basis. The biggest thing is establishing the run game and getting it done when it counts. There is still a lot of stuff to clean up. It is very tough to get wins in this league, so we will take them anyway we can get them.
Q: It is an offensive lineman’s dream to play in a game where there is only two punts?
A: That is very good. I just want to keep improving. We had a good win, but all I can think about now is all the stuff we need to correct for next week’s game. There is still a lot left in this season. We need to take it one game at a time and keep piling up wins.
Q: How do you stay focused when the offense isn’t in rhythm?
A: It is important to focus in on one play at a time. This league is so competitive that if you make one mistake bad things are going to happen out there. We realize mistakes are going to happen. It’s all about moving onto the next play very quickly. It can’t be just one person either, the whole team has to move on.
Q: How do you guys feel when Dalvin Cook gives you guys the props?
A: Dalvin (Cook) definitely appreciates us. We appreciate him a lot too. He can do a lot of special things out there with the ball. It’s fun to watch. We bounce off his momentum.
Thursday, October 24, 2019
Vikings Running Back Dalvin Cook
Q: After the great win how do you feel?
A: I feel good. The win wasn’t as pretty as I would like. Short week but we got it done, which was the most important part.
Q: How good did those last couple of drives feel?
A: To wear those guys out and play old school football felt nice. Running down their throats and keeping them on the field makes the offensive line feel good.
Q: Post-game you and Adrian Peterson met on the field. How did that feel to share a moment with him?
A: Means a lot. A guy like that who is still going and still got it in him. I love sharing the field with him. This is my second time (meeting him) and it’s always good, because that was one of the guys I watched growing up. He is a special talent and has still got it.
Q: How do you feel about this team being 6-2 and relatively healthy at this point of the season?
A: Yeah we get (Adam) Thielen back and I think we are right there with everybody else in the league.
Q: That pass rush was stopping stuff up field, did that open up some things for screens underneath when they were getting aggressive?
A: Yeah, but we knew that. We knew what type of guys we were playing. A bunch of first round and second round guys, a talented group overall. They are just having a down year. Good group, but we knew what we were facing all week because Coach Zimmer prepared us well.
Q: Is the defensive line being visibly frustrated at the end of the games a result of what you have been doing to them in the ground game?
A: You know it’s a mixture of things. When it comes down to it it’s the third and fourth quarter. Guys start to get warn down inside and they really don’t think we are going to keep running the football. It’s all about sticking to the schedule and staying with it.
Thursday, October 24, 2019
Vikings Kicker Dan Bailey
Q: Did you feel like the whole kicking operation went smoothly tonight?
A: Yeah, I did. I think these short weeks can be tough because you still want to get some days of practice in there, but you also want to save it for the game. I think we did good work given the short week that we had, and I had a lot of confidence going into the game.
Q: How do you approach Thursday games in terms of practice? Have you had a lot of experience with Thursday games?
A: I have had a lot of Thursday night games. For the first part of my career, I was always playing a game on Thanksgiving Day which is a Thursday. It really is no different, it is just the game comes a little quicker and you have to make sure you are recovering the right way and staying on a healthy regimen throughout the week. Other than that, once the lights come up on gameday, all of that goes away and you get back into this groove on gameday.
Thursday, October 24, 2019
Vikings Linebacker Erik Kendricks
Q: Did the group defensively tighten up after giving up the four scores in Detroit last week?
A: We know what we are capable of and we still gave up a lot of things we should not have in that game. We are not always going to be perfect, but we stay together always, and we always fight. You can count on that.
Q: What was it like to see Case Keenum and then Adrian Peterson? A couple of guys we know well here in Minnesota.
A: It was good, but anytime they are in a different jersey I just try to get after them.
Q: How does it feel to be 6-2 at the halfway point?
A: It feels good. Starting off the season 2-2, everybody was doubting us, but we know what we are capable of and we got to clean some things up. It definitely shows our hard work. I am ready to play again honestly.
Q: If I tell you are going to be in a game where there is only two punts and the final score is only going to be 19-9, how does that work?
A: Football is weird. It was one of those games where it was just kind of weird. We stuck to our game plan and try to get after them any chance we got.
Q: Is there some distraction in a game like that where any one play they could’ve connected them it would’ve changed the complexion of the whole game?
A: We kept warning each other on the sideline that it is a close game, but we don’t ever back down from that kind of challenge. They got to play against a good defense, and we know what kind of defense we are. Communication started flowing and things started clicking