Vikings Wide Receiver Cordarrelle Patterson
Q: Is it strange not to see a bigger part of the offense?
A: It's strange to me. I don't know what's going on, but you got to talk to Coach Zimmer and the offensive coordinator because that's nothing I can control. I just go out there and work these days and try to work hard.
Q: How have practices been going?
A: They are good. Practices are always good, going in and learning. I guess the coaches feel like I'm kind of a little hurt and question it a little bit, but I respect them for that.* *
Q: We are used to seeing you field the ball deep in the end zone and then try to run it out. It didn't look like that was part of the game plan today.
A: Well, it wasn't. Every time the ball came, it didn't hit deep and the ball bounced and misfired. No take, no chances. We won 38 to whatever so you know there was no use for our legs. We just have to get ready for next week.
Q: We saw you at the end of last year become a really big part of the offense. Is it strange to you that it hasn't happened so far this year except the first game of the year?
A: I really can't comment on that. The things I want to say are not going to be said. You have to talk to Coach Zimmer about that and the offensive coordinator. That is their decision and I stand behind them.
Q: When you talk to the coaches is there anything they are asking you to improve?
A: I really don't know. I am just playing my role and doing what they tell me to do. If they tell me I'm not playing this week, I can't really complain about that. That is what they want and what they say will go.
Q: Did they offer anymore explanation?
A: They really didn't.
Q: You said earlier last week that you weren't having as much and were pressing a little bit. Do you find even at practices or when you get a chance to get in there that maybe you are doing too much of pressing?
A: No, I'm really not. You never say you try to do too much, and like I said, I want to have fun. I had a little fun last week, even though I know what the outcome was supposed to be and what it meant, but you know we were having a little bit of fun. That is what this game is about, having fun and going out and enjoying yourself.
Q: How healthy are you?
A: I'm good. I feel like I am 100%. I don't feel like the coaches feel I am so they kept me out. I respect them for that.
Q: Do you think there is something you need to show or prove to them?
A: I really don't know, but if you find out let me know.
Q: When you say that, is it the hip that is bothering you or the knee?
A: It's the knee and the ankle, but I feel like I am good. They have some concerns and they sat me out and I respect them for that.
Q: It was the first game where you haven't caught at least one pass. How do you feel about that?
A: I really didn't notice. There's a lot of games I don't catch any balls. Just have to get better next week and prove to the coaches that I can go out and do it. This week is going to be a big week for me to show them that I am ready and ready to take that step forward.
Q: Do you plan to have a conversation with them or do you think it is the injury?
A: I don't know, let's see how this week goes and if it isn't going like I want it to. I'll step up and have a conversation with them.
Vikings Wide Receiver Adam Thielen
Q: Did you guys see something that you thought you could exploit in the Carolina special teams?
A: No, it wasn't especially that Carolina did anything. It was just that we always have a block up and hope that somebody comes free.
Q: What did you see on that blocked punt?
A: First of all, the coaches, Coach Priefer and Coach Ficken, they did a great job preparing us. It was one of those things where we knew someone was going to come free, and I just kind of came free. Nobody blocked me. I knew I was going to block it.
Q: Sometimes the scoop is harder than the block.
A: Yeah, it was kind of weird because it was sitting there right next to me and I was on the ground, but I wasn't sure if there was anyone behind me that was going to tackle me or not, but I knew that I didn't want to get stopped at the five.
Q: It didn't look like you were going to get stopped. It looked like you had that determination in your face, like you knew you were going to get there.
A: Yeah, it was one of those things. I had a play in the preseason where I got tackled on the three yard line. That's not a great feeling. It's one of those things where I was just hoping that I could sneak in there and not get tackled.
Q: You have had a lot of moments in the last couple of years, where does it rank among those moments to get in the end zone?
A: It was cool, but it's even cooler that we got the W. There have been a lot of special moments with team victories, and that's way more important. It was a lot of fun, and it led to a victory so that's even better.
Q: How many text messages did you have on your phone after the game?
A: I haven't even looked at my phone yet; I'm trying to avoid that.
Q: Did you know the ball was underneath you, like you had a Velcro shirt on, the ball just kind of stuck underneath you?
A: Yeah, I didn't really know, but it was one of those plays where you're not really thinking, you're just reacting. I saw it there right after I blocked it and I picked it up.
Q: Where did it hit you? It had to hurt with the cold weather?
A: It hit me in the hands. I kind of dove for it and I got so far on him that I had to move my hands down. It probably would have hit me right in the face, but I blocked it with my hands.
Q: So this wasn't a spontaneous move, this was planned before the game that there was a chance at this?
A: Every game you have a block, leading into that game whether you call it or not. There was a return off of it, so it wasn't necessarily like we knew we were going to block it. Like I said, the coaches did a great job of putting us in the right position, and really then I don't have to do much. I just do my job, what they tell me to do and make a block.
Q: So you did get your hands down?
A: I luckily got my hands down.
Q: You almost overran the whole kick.
A: It was one of those things where I dove, and like I said I had to move my hands down because it probably would have hit me right in the face.
Q: Where did you come from on that play?
A: Right over the long snapper.
Q: You have to make sure on plays like that that you don't hit the kicker, how did you do that?
A: That's something that I have been thinking about a lot, in practices and stuff, is how to avoid the punter, and how to do that after making a block, or if I were to miss it or something. Luckily I got up on it quick enough to where it didn't really matter, I knew I was going to block it.
Q: Once you're committed, you're committed, right? You can't back out of it?
A: Yeah, if you hesitate at all, you're not going to block it.
Q: Is it possible that adjusting to what you guys have down allowed Jasper Brinkley to get freed up and block the second one?
A: I'm not sure, I haven't seen that play. I watched it live but I didn't get a good look on it, but we will see it on film.
Vikings Linebacker Chad Greenway
Q: You guys can take some pride defensively in stepping up in that second half, but Carolina seemed like they were gaining some momentum.
A: You know on that first drive the offense was kind of sluggish coming out, and we came out and gave up the touchdown on that fourth down conversion, and we didn't want that ball to start rolling. We knew the next couple series were really big, so we had to get up the field and we were able to get off with a couple stops and then score some points. Once we made it a three-score game again it was pretty relieving.
Q: What did you see in those two blocked punts?
A: I didn't see Adam's, but what an awesome thing for him to do and play like that in front of the home crowd. It's pretty sweet. And then Jasper's, that's just straight effort. Guys have to understand that there's what we call "defensive stay," which means there's short yardage or plus 50 where the defense stays on the field. For Jasper to give that kind of effort in what we call our defensive stay rush, which is a "be aggressive but if you hit the punter you're going to get your butt kicked" type of deal, you have to be sure. We put pressure on him from both sides and Jasper came clean, so it was just a matter of who's going to pick the ball up. You make plays like that when you don't count on them, and it's huge. It makes it easier on the offense and defense.
Q: Why do guys stay in the game defensively in that situation?
A: Well, it's down and distance situation where a fake could present itself, or plus 50 where they would want to go for a fourth down fake. You see teams across the league do it, some more than others; we've done it the last few years.
Q: How much do you work on that in practice, where the base defense stays on the field?
A: Five minutes a week, of that actual thing.
Q: Good to see it actually pays off then.
A: Yeah, it's never happened before, since for me back in the Iowa days. We had a punt block. I don't think we blocked one since I've been here, not that I can remember.
Vikings Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn
Q: Is this the most complete defensive performance you guys have had as a defense all year?
A: I wouldn't say so, we gave up too many rushing yards. I don't know how many yards they had rushing and they had some plays we should of executed where we didn't, we missed tackles and let Cam [Newton] scramble a little bit and make a couple plays, so I wouldn't say it's our complete best game, but it feels good to get the win.
Q: Greg Jennings said it never feels that cold when you're winning.
A: You know me, I'm a cold guy. I have about three or four shirts on, but once I got playing I didn't really feel it. I had a smile on my face and it felt good to beat my old team.
Q: How good does it feel? Elaborate on beating your old team.
A: It feels really good. I know when I fly back to Charlotte I can talk trash for the rest of the year.
Q: How much trash were you talking out there today?
A: I wasn't saying too much to those guys, I was trying to focus on doing my job and limit those big time recievers to the amount of yards they had. I wasn't talking too much, I was just trying to execute. There were some guys trying to get me out of my game by talking a little bit, but I was just trying to go out there and execute.
Q: Did you say anything to Josh Norman?
A: No, I didn't talk to him.
Q: After what he said last week does it feel good to come out with a one-sided win?
A: Definitely, he's the guy that kept on grabbing the whole time, personal fouls kind of thing, so I'll let that be and I'll let Josh be Josh and Josh is playing good football right now.
Q: When you see a guy like Adam Thielen set the tone not only with the block, but to take it in, what can you say?
A: It's exciting. That guy works hard, not only on the field, but off the field. He gives you his all on special teams, on offense, you can ask him to go and play cornerback and he'll try. The guy just gives you his all and to see him get the punt block and scoop it up and score was excellent.
Q: Then to get the one-two-punch with Jasper and Everson who ran all the way in.
A: Oh yeah, it was definitely sweet and like I've said I've never been apart of a game where I've seen two blocks go for a touchdown.
Q: You said you gave too much yardage on the ground, what happened in the second half? Did they adjust to you or did you have a slow start out of the locker room?
A: I think they adjusted well. We didn't do a good job of tackling. The running backs did a great job of bouncing off our tackling and they came out and executed their game plan in the second half, but if we have a chance to get off the field we definitely have to get off the field.
Q: Is it frustrating to see a team like Carolina only a half game out of the playoffs and you guys dominate them and it's going to be harder for you guys?
A: Oh yeah, it's definitely frustrating. I was making a joke to some of my old teammates about that I was saying, "Man, the picture is you guys are still in it". That is crazy to me that they're still in it while we're sitting here fighting for our lives. I told them they're lucky we're not in their division.
Vikings Defensive End Everson Griffen
Q: Was that your best game as a pro?
A: Man, it was a good day. The beginning was tough; it was cold out. You got to fight through it. I was getting chipped a lot, but we stuck together as a team and as a D-Line, and we stuck to our plan. It was fun; we won the game. It feels good getting that win again.
Q: What are you happier with, the touchdown on the block or the two sacks?
A: Really, I am happy with winning. I don't care if I don't get any sacks in a game and we win the game, as long as the team is winning. That's what we are here for, to win games. Getting the numbers is great, but at the same time winning the game is even better.
Q: Tell me about the punt block.
A: The punt block, Jasper Brinkley came free and the ball bounced right in front of me. I had to take it and scoop it and score. If it wasn't for Jasper Brinkley, I wouldn't have been able to do that. I saw the ball, I picked it up and I scored.
Q: Did you think that you could have 11 sacks on the year?
A: I knew I could have a good year, and it was going even better than I thought, but as a team we have to keep on pushing and keep on going to get where we want to go. The season hasn't worked out for us the way we wanted to go, but we're fighters. No matter, what we fight to the end. That's what we are doing, we just keep on fighting.
Q: How was the weather?
A: It was freezing. I could not feel my hands in that first half; they were rock solid. You can have on all the warm gear you want, but at the end of the day if it's cold, it's cold.
Q: You always say that there is one guy that turns it on for the team. When Adam Thielen first got that block and return, what did you think?
A: Oh my gosh, it was unbelievable. He blocked it, he picked it up, and he scored. That's unbelievable. He blocked the kick, he picked up the kick, and he scored, so he got like ten points in one play. That's awesome for him; I'm happy for him; I was cussing on the sideline. We play as a team, we play hard, and we fight. We never give up. People, they always count us out but we never give up.
Q: As far as making plays goes, is this as complete a game as you guys have had this season?
A: Yeah, it was a little shaky, but we just kept on going and kept on fighting. We kept on doing the right things. As long as each player is doing the right things each and every down, you're going to have a successful day.
Q: You showed some speed on that return.
A: Yeah I got a little bit of wheels. I got them from my mom; rest in peace, Sabrina. I love you. It's awesome. I am just happy that we won the game.
Q: Were those two sacks man to man that you got in there?
A: Yeah, I was getting chipped the whole game. They finally gave me a one-on-one with them and I beat them and I got the sack. That was a big sack for the team; it was third and 12 or something, and I got the sack and they were able to punt the ball, and we were able to go down on offense and get the ball, and sustain the game.
Q: It's rare for you now a days to get those single type coverages, what do you do when you see those?
A: You get frustrated. You do get frustrated, but you can't let the frustration take you out of the game. You just have to keep on going and keep on working. And that's what I did; I stayed in the zone, I really relied on my teammates to go out there and win their one-on-ones, and I just have to keep on going. When I finally got my chance to get the one-on-one, I just beat the guy and I got the sack.
Q: That sack total says that you are one of the best in the league at what you do, are you ok with that?
A: Yeah, I am. That comes with responsibility too. I'm going to get chipped; I'm going to get double teamed, but at the end of day you just have to keep on fighting and keep that mindset and keep on going.
Q: When you get one block, is there some blood in the water, or is there a part of you that says no there is no way that we are going to get two in one game?
A: Each and every game you go out, you want to block punts, you want to block a field goal, you want to get interceptions. Each play, you have to go out there like you're going to block the punt and sometimes, miraculously they happen. They're very rare. And two scores on two punt blocks, that's unbelievable.
*Q: You say your play comes with responsibility, but you're the kind of player that wants the other team to bring it at you it seems. *
A: Yeah, I do. I love this game of football. I love playing out there with my guys. I love competing, and I love winning. We are going to keep on winning; we just have to keep on fighting.
Vikings Wide Receiver Greg Jennings
I thought we performed great; great bounce back game. Across the board we did some great things. Special teams gave us a huge boost today with the two blocks and touchdowns. Defense played phenomenal and we were able to sustain some drives.
Q: Did Teddy take a step up today?
A: Teddy definitely did today. It's a growing process. Every week you want to see guys get better. Every week you want to see the team stepping towards success and taking a step in the right direction and today that took place. It starts with him. Obviously he is going to get the brunt of everything because he is in the high profile position. The way he bounces back, the way he performs, the way he leads without even audibly saying anything. He's a special kid to be around.
Q: What was the wind like?
A: It was chilly. I told the guys it's always a lot warmer when you win because you're excited, your adrenaline is rolling, and you're jumping around. I mean, if you are losing in a game like this, that temperature kind of stings you and you almost want to quit.
Vikings Wide Receiver Jarius Wright
Q: How difficult were the conditions? Beyond the cold it seemed like it was kind of windy down there.
A: You know the conditions weren't too bad. If you ask me, this is football. It was fun playing out there in the cold. You can't take it for granted because you never know which play is going to be your last and there's thousands of fans who would love to be out here playing.
Q: Teddy had kind of a bounce back game after a couple of tough games for him, but I assume that the confidence never wavered. What was his approach after having a couple of tough games?
A: Like I said earlier, you've seen Teddy. Every week he's practicing, so I don't think his confidence has gone at all. We came out and started early so I think that gave Teddy a lot of confidence early. Not only Teddy but it gave our offense a lot of confidence early in the game and it helped us execute later on.
Q: It really was the first time Teddy heard any kind of grumbling about his play. Did that have any effect on him or did he just shrug it off?
A: I would say Teddy's composure is automatic. I can't say enough good stuff about his composure. Teddy doesn't buy into the, "You played good this week, you played bad this week." He's the same guy in and out no matter how he played and we expect him to be that guy and he expects us to rally around him.
Q: What did you think of the deep pass he had to you?
A: You know what, that was a beautiful ball. It's crazy because we've been running this play all the time and I hadn't had a chance to get it. It's funny that we finally connected on it today because we've had it in since the first week. It's good to finally connect and Teddy threw a great ball that I was able to catch and run with.
Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer
Q: Did you see something on film?
A: No, not really. They're a very well coached team, they're a good football team. There's a couple of things with our punt rush against their punt protection we thought we could exploit and our guys did a great job on the first one. The second was our base defense, we wanted to go after it. We change that up every now and then and Jasper Brinkley has begging for that call for the last four or five weeks and he came through for us today.
Q: Adam Thielen was there so quick he almost overran the kick?
A: Yeah, he was there quick and Andrew Sendejo was quick as well. I didn't think Thielen was going to get free based on what we saw in protection, we thought Andrew might have a shot, but he did such a great job getting through there. Part of the way you block punts in this league is you have to believe that you're going to block punts and our guys believed going in that we had a chance to block them.
Q: Marcus had a couple big returns today as well?
A: He did, he really did. We've been wanting to spring him loose now for a long time. We haven't gotten many opportunities and some opportunities we've had penalties on so it was great to see him step up today and do a great job and the guys did a great job blocking for him.
Q: Is this one of the best performances you've seen as a special teams unit?
A: For that phase, yeah. A couple years ago we had a punt and kickoff returned for a touchdown against Detroit, but anytime you can help your team win that's all we're really looking for. Sometimes it goes unnoticed when you have great special teams games where you don't score, but when you set up scores and you have great field position for your defense based on your punt and kickoff coverage, but obviously I'm very pleased we could contribute today for a great team win.
Q: Were you overloading gaps?
A: Yeah, we thought Jasper might have a chance to get through there. As long as he used the speed he's been using in practice and like I said earlier if you believe you have a chance to block one even if they block you or they're trying to block you if you use great technique and speed off the ball like he used you'll have a chance every time.
Q: On the first one did you overloaded that one gap between the guard and center?
A: Yeah, it was both A gaps. Theilen was in one A gap and Andrew was in the other and we're fortunate that they both came free.
Q: The upback has to choose one of them?
A: Yeah, that's the hard thing. You put a lot of stress on the long snapper when you do that, but we obviously beat the snapper and the upback had to choose one or the other.
Q: You didn't see anything specific with their alignment or anything like that?
A: No, not really. A couple games ago somebody had something, not that type of rush, but we saw something that a gap might be open and that's really it, because they're a well coached team, they're a good football team. They've had great special teams over the years and both their coaches are two very good special teams coaches over there, so I have a lot of respect for them and what they do. Our guys just out- executed them today.
Q: With Adam on special teams this year can you talk about the progress he's made?
A: Adam's done a great job, really all of our guys. We have a lot of good core players here that believe special teams are important. We have a head coach that supports us with meeting time, walk through time and practice time and he allows me to make those calls. In years past I've coached with different head coaches that don't want to be quite as aggressive, so that really helps us cut it loose a bit and get after it.
Q: How often do you go all out to block a punt?
A: Very rarely, infact the one we blocked it was only a three man rush, the first one was only a three man rushed, it was a return setup. We normally have a rush-return type look, sometimes you rush all on one side and the other side will turn the other way and sometimes you rush up the middle and hope you get a chance that you force a line drive punt and hope we can get a good return out of it or if you're fortunate enough that guy gets through he can block one.
Q: Is it always the plan to block a punt?
A: No, not necessarily. In our returns today we have guys forcing the punt, we want to make sure the punter punts the ball, so there's no fake, but still have a return set up as well.
Q: Adam seems like he's really taken to special teams, he's really embraced that role.
A: He really has. I think every young player does. Audie Cole, Andrew Sendejo and Jasper Brinkley, here comes a veteran coming back and he's starting on punt return today and we've had him on kickoff and kickoff return before, so we've got a great group of guys with a great attitude and that makes my job a lot easier.
Vikings Defensive End Brian Robison
Q: Have you ever blocked two punts for touchdowns?
A: No, I think that's the first time I've ever been a part of one.
Q: When you're lining up and you see that one guy is picking between you and Jasper Brinkley, are you thinking he's going to pick you?
A: Well, I mean we're just getting out, we're trying to out flank them and really put the pressure on them to kick out and open up some gaps in the middle. They basically got to choose, they have to decide if they're going to block Jasper underneath or if they're going to block me on the outside, and it really started off, I had a great get off on the ball and it really allowed that guy to have to kick back a lot further which allowed Jasper to come underneath.
Q: Is the design basically one of you guys are going to be on block and it's just a matter of speed to get there?
A: Well, we just have to go. On that call, we just go and everybody's got an area that they have to hit on and sometimes we twist and do different things with it. Just today it was a great job by Jasper to find that crease and get in there.
Vikings Linebacker Jasper Brinkley
Q: Have you ever blocked a punt before?
A: Nope. Well, in high school, in high school I did.
Q: Coach said he's been looking for one of these all season, and you've been close the last few weeks.
A: Definitely, you know you're playing with the guys, it's not just me, everyone helped set that. Brian Robinson on the outside, another respectable pass rusher; I'm sure they looked at him over me. We just played for each other.
Q: Anything you saw on tapes that made you think there might be a chance to spring one?
A: Just knowing that we had that look, I knew I was going to have to sit and make a run in, and it ultimately worked out for me.
Q: Was this something you knew before the game, or something that developed as the game went on?
A: We knew it.
Q: When you were lining up and you saw that you only had one guy to block you and Brian (Robinson) are you thinking he's going to pick Brian?
A: Oh definitely, I would. I would definitely try and block Brian before me.
Minnesota Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
It was a good team victory today I thought. I want to tell the fans that I appreciate them being here, being out in the cold, the seventh coldest I saw on the scoreboard, seventh coldest in Vikings history. It means a lot to us when they come out and they support us like they did. They were very loud, especially in the first half. I thought our special teams played great today. We flipped the field position, we blocked two punts for touchdowns, fifth time in NFL history and first time in Vikings history. I thought we did a good job flipping the field position on our punt returns. When they did punt we fielded the ball in these conditions which was good. The offense took good care of the football, which is also important in these kind of conditions. Defensively I thought we hung in there and did some things, I wish we would have done a little better on some of the things on third downs. Overall, I felt like Teddy [Bridgewater] had a very productive game. I always hear about how he has trouble with the deep ball. He threw a great deep ball to Jarius Wright on the third and two. Really he threw a great deep ball to Charles Johnson, the one that got broken up that I thought we could have went up and got after a little bit better. I thought that was a really good team victory today.
Q: With the long ball from Teddy Bridgewater, do you think he's settling in or has he been working on that?
A: I think some of it is timing actually. I think some of it is timing and you know, we've changed our strength program here. We continually get stronger and stronger as the season gets going. Our strength coaches do a good job and I think some of that is starting to show up with not only Teddy but with the rest of our football team as well.
Q: Do you think your team handled the cold better than Carolina?
A: I don't know better than Carolina, I think we handled it good. I thought for the most part we caught the ball well, we took care of the ball. I think part of it is about the mindset and it's the same thing last week. Everybody was asking me about, 'well are you getting ready for next year, are you doing this'. I told the team all week long and continually tell them, I told them last night, that we're about this week coming up and the week after that and the week after that. I don't ever want to be thinking about next year. Not this year, next year, the year after that. I want to be thinking about this year all the time.
Q: Defensive line played well, Everson Griffen had a couple of sacks. Did they win that battle and set the tone for you?
A: Well I thought we did a good job in coverage too for the most part. Xavier [Rhodes] played well and that helps. They were doing a lot of extra protecting today. They had a lot of guys in for protection so we changed up some of the calls that we typically make. We put more guys in the coverage and then once they started not protecting with as many protectors, then we were able to get after them a little bit better.
Q: Do you think you guys were close to blocking punts earlier in the season?
A: I think we blocked on in the preseason maybe. Mike Priefer does a great job. He's so diligent about everything and he talked about it this week and he's pretty energetic anyway. He talked this week about the possibility of blocking the punt, now almost every week he does, but he felt I think extra positive this week that it might happen. That was great, I didn't expect the second one we were actually in base defense on the one so I don't know if they just turned the guy loose or not.
Q: When you do that not once but twice, how much does that fire up a team and demoralize the other team?
A: I don't know about demoralizing the other team but I do know that when you score on defense, you score on special teams, your odds of winning a football game go way up. I tell the team that because you're able to get points on the board in a non-conventional way. When you do that you typically win the football game.
Q: How do you think your defense handled being on the field as much as it was especially in the first half?
A: They were fine, they didn't have any issues. Any time you get two scores that way, you're going to be, your time of possession is going to be a little bit out of whack, but I'll take that any day.
Q: Any particular reason Cordarrelle Patterson was not on the field for offense in the first half?
A: He missed some time this week, missed a couple days of practice, he had a funeral he attended.
Q: Nothing disciplined?
A: No, no. I really like Cordarrelle, I like the kid. I think he's going to be a good player. He continues to deal with things so that was just a part of it.
Q: When you win by this big of a margin do you have to look harder to find mistakes?
A: No. I'll find them. Trust me I'll find them. I'll find them, I saw a lot of them today.
Q: Do you think winning the challenge on the first down was a big play?
A: It could have been if we would of scored, I don't think we scored on that possession. I mean, it looked pretty obvious to me and even then we had a lot of timeouts, the score was in our favor. I probably would of challenged it if it was close to be honest with you.
Q: Was there something you or Norv Turner did to help Teddy Bridgewater play a little better right away?
A: No we just keep talking to him about those things. We threw the boot I think the first play of the game. I think he's getting more confident about moving in the pocket. To me, he buys a little bit more time, but I think his confidence really showed on that third-and-two. It's third-and-two and he's throwing the ball 40 yards down the field and puts the ball on money. He got the right look. There was a couple times he had the right look defensively and went to the right place even though it wasn't the safest throw so I think those kind of things are the things I'm talking about when I see his progression and he's always getting better.
Q: In that sequence, right before that the Panthers got the ball at midfield, Harrison Smith had the tackle for loss and you forced the punt and got good field position, it looked like you were able to handle everything from there.
A: Yeah and I don't think we handled the big lead coming out of halftime near as well as I would have liked. Then we gave up that poor touchdown there, at least I thought it was extremely poor. We made some mistakes on that drive defensively right before that so the momentum was starting to change I felt like. When we were able to do that and then flip the field as you said, I thought was big because they got the ball down at the 10 yard line or something. It kind of got things back in our favor a little bit.
Q: Without Jerick McKinnon, how did you feel about the run game?
A: I thought [Matt] Asiata ran hard, I thought [Ben] Tate ran hard. I don't remember the carries that [Joe] Banyard had, he had two. I thought our offensive line blocked well for the most part today. They had the one where the tight end got beat on the pass rush one time but from what I can remember, I thought [Matt] Kalil played well. Everybody's on his butt. I don't know, we need to continue to work on getting the running game going better.
Q: You mentioned Xavier Rhodes earlier and it seemed like he was really able to blanket today. How does that help the defense when he's able to stick to that coverage?
A: It helps a lot because you can do other things with other guys. I don't know if he's the most improved player that we have, but he's improved an awful lot throughout the course of this season. I think his confidence level, his technique, the way he competes. There was one toss he needed to compete a little bit better in the running game, but I think he's taken a lot of pride in getting up in people and covering them.
Q: The touchdown that Josh Robinson was in coverage on, was he supposed to have help in that?
A: Yeah, on that play there should have been but he should have been in a better position too. We messed up the blitz, there were about three things there, so I can find stuff.
Q: You talked about Xavier Rhodes and a few other guys who are really taking big steps from last season. Is it gratifying to get to this point in the year, whether it's Rhodes, Everson Griffen, Josh Robinson, some of those guys, to see that they've really improved from last season to this point?
A: I don't look at so much from last season, I look at it from the time that I first was able to work with them. Hopefully all of our guys improved throughout the course of this year. If they haven't then I'm probably not doing a good enough job. I've always taken a lot of pride in trying to get each player to play better each and every week, each and every day. That's really what I love to do, it's definitely not talking to you all. Taking guys and trying to get them better, I want them to have great careers.
Q: Do you have any injury updates on Sharrif Floyd or Anthony Barr?
A: Sharrif's is the same thing that he had. I thought he did well in the first half and then it tightened up on him. Anthony has been messing around with this little nagging thing for a couple of weeks, but he'll be fine.
Q: What does Cordarrelle Patterson have to do to get on the field more or become a bigger factor?
A: He's really starting to do a lot of better things in practice, so we just have to keep going there. I think Charles Johnson is doing a good job playing the same position, Charles is doing some good things. It's just, continually, first off you have to be at practice, then you have to do stuff when you're there.
Q: Can you talk about Everson Griffen and his knack for making big plays?
A: Everson is a great athlete, he's not a good athlete, he's a great athlete. He's one of the best athletes I've been around at defensive end in a long time. The thing that I like the most about him is he wants to always please. He's really not an "I" guy at all. Even though he's getting some statistics, he is not an "I" guy. He'll do whatever the coaches, Coach [Andre] Patterson, Coach [Ross] Akey, Coach [George] Edwards ask him to do whether it's the best thing for him or not. Those things happen and he's an extremely hard worker. I think you combine those things with him being a great athlete and being a hard player, you're going to get a full day's work out of him, and then doing what he's supposed to do. I think it helps him to continue to make plays.
Q: When Adam Thielen blocks that punt, is that a guy who doesn't get a whole lot of opportunity but makes the most of it when he does?
A: Yeah Adam, he's kind of a jack of all trades guy. He does everything he can do. He'll go in at every position even if it was tight end, he would so go in there, he doesn't care. You need guys like him on your football team that will get those opportunities and take advantage of them. Some guys can come through there and not touch the ball and he not only touched it but he picked it up and scored.
Vikings Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater
Today was I believe the seventh coldest game in Vikings history and we're just thankful for all of those fans that came out and toughed it out today. We know that this is going to be our home for the next two years, and the remaining two home games we have this year, and we're going to use it to our advantage. Like I said, we're just thankful for those fans who toughed it out and we're going to do our best to continue to just play great football, just pay our due to those fans who came out today.
Q: What do you attribute the success to that you had on a few of your deep passes today?
A: Each week we practice on deep balls and we just continue to make progress and make strides in completing them. You're going to have some opportunities, you're not going to hit them all, but when the opportunities present themselves you have to take advantage of them and today we had Jarius [Wright] lined up in the slot today and liked our matchup and took advantage of it.
Q: What did you do to bounce back from the past two outings that you had?
A: I was just putting it in the past. We know that we have a couple of more games this year and we still have a lot to play for and got a group of guys here who understand Coach Zimmer's message and each week we do our best to answer his message, answer his challenge, and today it was about all three phases of the game. Special teams, you talk about not only blocking two punts but scoring both times you blocked them. I believe that was the fifth time that it ever happened in NFL history. We take our hats off to those guys and the defense did a great job of slowing down their offense. We know they can be a high-powered offense once they get going and our defense did a great job of slowing those guys down and offensively we came out, we executed. We had a great week of practice, moving the ball this week and completing the football. Today was all about the three phases and each phase played well.
Q: Are you satisfied with your performance in the cold?
A: I'm happy with the way the entire team handled the cold. We practice, whether it's inside or outside, Coach Zimmer wants us to have that tough mindset and the weather doesn't play a factor. When we are out there we have to continue to just execute and play our game.
*Q: Is there any frustration with the special teams guys making you stand there on the sideline on a cold day like today? *
A: I actually liked it. I'm able to sit on the bench and stay warm. You never know how the game is going to turn out and to have two blocked punts and they're run back for touchdowns it's very huge in a game. I don't have a problem with it all.
Q: What was the key with the first drive and being able to go down and score right away?
A: We knew that we just had to jump on these guys early in the game. Our guys did a great job. You talk about Charles [Johnson] catching the screen pass and running it for 20-plus yards, just plays like those sparked the drive. The offensive line did a great job when we did run the football. It meant a lot to us to start fast and we did a great job throughout the day.
Q: Where do you think you are better at now than you were during your first start a few weeks ago?
A: I think I'm better at just making quicker decisions. Earlier in the year I talked about getting rid of the ball faster. That wasn't the issue. I think I just made quicker decisions and if I'm able to make quicker decisions I'm able to get the ball out faster. You talk about the touchdown that I threw to Greg Jennings, Greg did a great job of just knowing his route, understanding the protection and everything. I made the decision before the ball was snapped. The offensive line did a great job of allowing me to sit back there and make the throw, play pitch-and-catch with Greg. Greg was able to make a move and score a touchdown. Each week I'm trying to make quicker decisions and continue to trust those guys each week. Our guys are doing a great job of spacing up in the passing game or in the run game the offensive line is doing a great job of opening holes for the back so all I have to do is just continue to play my game.
*Q: Was it part of the plan to get you some short completions early to get you in a rhythm? *
A: Yeah, like I said, we just wanted to start fast and this week when we repped those in practices we had a lot of confidence in them and we knew that coming into this game we just wanted to get completions and find some rhythm, establish some rhythm and we did a great job of that today.
*Q: Can you talk about how the deep ball to Jarius Wright worked so well for you guys? *
A: Well, you know, it worked so well today because we liked our matchup today. Carolina was playing man coverage and any time we get man coverage with Jarius Wright we like our chances, or with any of our receivers, but Jarius is a guy who can really stretch the field, especially when it's against a nickel defender. Each week in practice whether it's 7-on-7 we're throwing routes on there or in live action, 11-on-11 action. We're taking shots with those balls whether it's a deep post, a deep out cut, a deep crossing route or just a nine route. We've been having some success each week in practice and we've been making progress. Today we hit the one out of the two.
*Q: Are you a little under the weather? *
A: Yeah, that's something that I've been dealing with but our training staff did a great job of jumping on it right ahead and taking good care of me.
*Q: Why do you think you were so much better with the accuracy in the cold weather? *
A: It was just one of those days. I was able to make the throws, the weather had nothing to do with it. We came out today and executed our offense. Whenever we execute our offense we're very hard to stop.
*Q: Was the focus on the early throws because you wanted to get in that rhythm? *
A: There was no extra concentration. It's all about finishing throws knowing that it's cold outside or maybe a little windy. You have to step into those throws and finish those throws and that's all it was was playing pitch-and-catch.
*Q: On the deep ball to Charles Johnson it looked like you got under it a little more than in previous weeks. Do you feel like you're getting stronger? *
A: I think it's more of me just giving the guys a chance and gaining that confidence. Like I said, throughout the week in practice we've been working on deep balls and everything. I've been gaining that confidence and throwing it whether the defender is playing our wide receiver off in the off coverage or just press man at the line of scrimmage, just throwing it up, giving our guy a chance to come down with the catch. Today we just missed it.
Q: Do you feel like you're physically stronger now?
A: I feel like I am and we have a great strength and conditioning staff here. We've been doing a great job of taking care of our bodies but as a team we're getting stronger also, not only physically but mentally. We continue to play for one another. We know that each week is going to be a challenge for us and we've been doing a great job of answering those challenges.
Q: What do you feel like you have to prove yet?
A: We don't have to prove anything we just need to go out and try to get better. Each week we've tried to make progress and over these next couple of games we're going to continue to try to get better, continue to execute this offense, do what the coaching staff is asking us to do and just play football.
Q: How does this rank among the better overall games you've played as an NFL player?
A: It was a great game but like I said, all three phases played well today. The special teams did a great job whether they blocked the punt or returned the punt, they set us up with great field position and we were able to call plays where I was able to get high-percentage completions and just took advantage of the field position we had today. I can't rank this game but overall the offense did a great job today of executing today and working on what we had.