*Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer *
First, it was brought to my attention the article that he [Matt Vensel] wrote, so I wanted to address that. I always try to be honest with you and I hope that you can appreciate the fact that I never want to put my team in a competitive disadvantage and my loyalty will always be to the football team and the organization. Unfortunately, I mishandled the answer to the question, I could have handled it a better way and I will try to do better in the future in those things when I feel like the question is leading to competitive disadvantages. I apologize for that, if he was here I would apologize to him. Going on to the game, I feel like our team did a good job of preparation, of understanding the way that we have to go out and fight. I think our veteran leaders did an outstanding job this week as far as kind of taking the initiative of really what this football team needs to play like, needs to prepare like, needs to play like. I think that our young players that played, I think that we had four rookies that started on defense and I think seven or eight rookies that ended up playing a huge number of plays in the game, tried to perform the game plan as good as possible. Really, I really want to credit the players for the way that they attacked the situation and especially coming after the loss that we had the week before. I said I'm not into moral victories; we didn't do enough things to win the football game. We played with the heart and the desire and the fight and all of those things that I want, but we turned the ball over three times. We dropped an interception, we made an interception and were offsides and you're not going to be able to do that against a good football team. As I told the team in the locker room after the game, it's important that win or lose that you learn from what happened the night before or from the game and I hope that we learn that this is the mindset of this football team that we have to play with. If we do that then we'll win some games because we'll do some of these other things better.
Q: Do you wish you would have done anything differently with your final play call?
A: Yeah, you know, if I knew that was going to happen I probably would have done something different. I thought about kicking the field goal with the 13 seconds left on the clock, if we missed the field goal, I'm wrong, we should have got closer. I did the best that I thought we could at that particular time. We've studied that situation many times; to clock the ball in-bounds it's approximately 12-14 seconds, so we were right on the verge. I didn't feel like there was any way we could throw the ball in-bounds and still get another play off. We were trying to get a little closer, a play designed to get the sideline. Actually, the play before was a very similar play – there was 18 seconds left on the clock, we knew we had time to clock it at that point, but we tried to get the ball to the sideline and it wasn't there and he threw it out of bounds, it took five seconds, so then it went to 13. I felt good about that and if we didn't get it I figured we could try the field goal from there and take a shot.
Q: Did you like the play call?
A: It's a play that we practice every week for a situation like that. They had more people rushing in that particular play than normally when that happens, so that was a little bit different, and then we got beat. In retrospect, probably could have called something else or we could have kicked the field goal or whatever.
Q: Was there any consideration to run the ball on 2nd down to get a few more yards?
A: Not really, no.
Q: Do you see any similarities between last night's game and the Denver game and then the positive response from the team in the following weeks?
A: I hope so. I think that it's hard to predict the future in football. I know we came back in that game, we fought in that game, we didn't make the plays again in the end, very similar. This one felt different for some reason, it felt like we were controlling the game a lot of the time. We were fighting like crazy to try to keep them from moving the ball down the field. Defensively, the goal line stand was huge. I don't know, we'll see how that goes in the future. I'm hopeful that these are the things we learn from.
Q: How did you evaluate Anthony Harris' play last night?
A: I think he did good for the most part. First time out, the game didn't seem too big for him. He made some plays; it was a nice break on the one ball down the middle. He made some good tackles in the ballgame. He had some mistakes like everybody does, but I think he showed some good things.
Q: Is it a challenge in itself to be elevated from the practice squad and having to prepare for a game on a short week?
A: Yeah. The good thing for him is he's a very smart kid. He understands concepts and understands things. He's been sitting in meetings, so it's not like we got him off of the street he's been in meetings. He wasn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but he did some natural things out there, considering he didn't get a lot of time in the preseason because of an injury as well. It was good to see.
Q: How do you think Terence Newman played at the safety position?
A: For the most part, he did pretty good. I'm trying to think – there was one play that he kind of bit up on a little bit. For the most part he lined up in the right place. Terence [Newman] understands the calls and the checks pretty good. I thought he did OK.
Q: Do you expect to have any of your injured defensive starters back for Chicago?
A: I don't know. I know that I got a pretty good report this morning that they're all moving in the right direction, we'll just have to see how that goes. I'm hopeful. These guys want to play bad. That's one thing about this football team is they want to fight for each other and these guys want to get back in there and fight as soon as they can.
Q: Any of those injured guys expected to be more long-term than the others?
A: No, [Andrew] Sendejo would probably be the quickest back, I would guess. The other, talking about [Anthony] Barr, [Linval] Joseph and Harrison [Smith], they're all kind of right in the same vicinity.
Q: Why do you think Teddy Bridgewater looked so comfortable last night?
A: I think one thing about Teddy is he's a great competitor. He was a little bit like our football team was, none of us played very good the week before and we all played a little bit better last night. I think these guys have a lot of pride and I think he has a lot of pride. And every game is different. You get different matchups, different plays, different rushes, all kinds of things. I think it helped moving him in the pocket a little bit, I think getting the runs, getting those guys up there and those guys having to deal with Adrian, I think that helped a little bit. And then he just made plays. I think he threw the ball a lot better last night obviously than he did the week before, but you can probably say that about our whole football team.
Q: How do you think the offensive line responded last night?
A: For the most part they played much better. Really, the whole team played a lot better and maybe Seattle just did that to us. I would say probably everybody on the team played better last night and offensive line did a good job. They protected much better, they were doing a lot of the same run blitzes that we had been seeing earlier in the year and we got off the double-teams and get-up to the linebackers better. Adrian ran with a purpose I thought, his physicality and the receivers did a nice job. Jarius Wright went in there and blocked his rear end off.
Q: How did you feel about the balance running the football?
A: I think it was pretty good. I think we stuck with the run. I know that even when we were down by 10, we still stuck with the run and that allowed us to continue to open some other things up as we ran the football. I felt pretty good about it.
Q: Was involving Adrian Peterson more on passing downs due to seeing something in the Arizona defense or is that something you want moving forward?
A: We'll probably continue to want more. When he's in there, he's a threat. One of the first things you do before you make the calls are, "who is the back?" so you can determine run-pass kind of things. So the more he's in there, the more it helps your passing game as well.
Q: How important was Matt Asiata last night with a couple nice runs and big catches?
A: Yeah, I think it was just kind of to spell Adrian a little bit. And then maybe they went into some of the coverage stuff, it's hard for me to remember all of his catches or his runs right now.
Q: How do you think Trae Waynes played?
A: We had a mistake. It wasn't just him on the one they caught on the sideline there, but it was kind of a combination mistake of a couple guys. I thought he competed well last night, the play that he broke up at the end of the ballgame was on that they completed on him earlier in the game and that was a big play for him to go in there because Larry Fitzgerald is a great catch guy and for him to get that ball out was huge, so he did some good things.
Q: Is that when Arizona did that bunch formation?
A: Yeah, we screwed it up. Sometimes, I don't want to get too complicated and tell too many things, but based on splits, alignments, formations, different things, sometimes you have different combinations of the coverage that are called. We played one combination and it was not what we should have done and so that's why the guy was outside by himself – actually two guys were outside by themselves on that play.
Q: Overall, how was the communication in the secondary with all of the injuries?
A: It was pretty good, really. Obviously you're trying to put together a game plan that your players can execute, that's the number one most important thing. And then I think that they executed – and this is more of a credit to them than the coaches by any stretch – that they were able for the most part to execute the plays, get the communication amongst a lot of different guys pretty good.
Q: How is Xavier Rhodes' wrist?
A: After the game he said he was fine.
Q: So it's not broken?
A: I don't even think he's getting an X-ray.