EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Vikings kicker Kai Forbath, punter/holder Ryan Quigley and long snapper Kevin McDermott are a tight-knit crew.
The trio of specialists is rarely not seen together around the Winter Park facility, and they also spend considerable amounts of free time with each other.
As close a group as they are, they do welcome in teammates to the triumvirate, and it helped Saturday night when David Morgan had to step in after McDermott suffered an injury.
Morgan was a backup to the backup long snapper (tight end Blake Bell was first in line but suffered a season-ending injury at Carolina), but he delivered effective snaps on three punts and two field goals in the second half of Minnesota’s 16-0 win against Green Bay at Lambeau Field.
McDermott underwent an MRI on Sunday morning and had his left arm in a sling.
“It’s going to be a rehab situation, and hopefully I’ll be back in time to play in the playoffs,” McDermott said.
McDermott, Quigley and Forbath all said they were impressed by the way Morgan stepped into the role on a night when the temperature dropped into the single digits.
“Five degrees, ice on the field, you can’t really feel the ball,” Quigley said. “I can’t say enough about him.
“If we played another game and he was snapping, I wouldn’t be worried at all,” Quigley added later. “The biggest thing for him is not trying to shoot it back there too fast because that’s when things get a little errant. I told him to keep the pace he was at. He kept the same pace the whole time. I can’t tell you how tough it is to go into a situation like that in those conditions and snap that well.”
Forbath was able to drill all three of his field goals and an extra point. He made a 49-yarder in the first quarter with McDermott snapping and was good from 20 and 27 yards in the second half with Morgan starting the play.
“[The footballs] were pretty cold,” Forbath said. “The ball definitely wasn’t traveling as far as normal, but that’s expected. I’m happy on the long one. You’ve just got to make good contact. If you don’t make good contact, it’s going to go quite a bit shorter than normal.”
McDermott said Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer prepares the whole unit for the unexpected.
“I think [Morgan] has gotten progressively better with all of the reps that he’s gotten,” McDermott said. “Coach Priefer does a really good job of emphasizing that those guys who are backups, whether it’s backup holders, backup snappers, he even has the guys who are in the wedge on kickoff returns catch kicks after practice.
“That happens every Thursday, so every week, Ryan Quigley and I are working with David on holds and long snaps,” McDermott added. “I’m not surprised that he went out there and did such a great job. I’m very proud of him and thought he handled the situation great for it to be such a cold-weather game.”
Zimmer said during a conference call Sunday that he was going to discuss options with General Manager Rick Spielman. He said Minnesota will work out long snappers on Tuesday.
Zimmer gave Vikings players Monday and Tuesday off for the holidays.
McDermott was injured after a bizarre sequence near the end of the second quarter. Minnesota thought it earned a new set of downs with a pass to Adam Thielen and attempted a pass to Laquon Treadwell.
Officials, however, announced that Thielen was shy of the line to gain. Thus, the incompletion on the third-and-1 pass to Treadwell created a fourth-and-1 with 27 seconds remaining, and Green Bay went for a punt block.
“They were going to bring a rush,” McDermott said. “I blocked to my left, and my left arm was extended out and got caught at the wrong angle, and my shoulder dislocated. That kind of stuff happens. It’s football.”
After the game, Zimmer said referee Carl Cheffers explained that the officials made a mistake.
“Somebody said it was a first down on our sideline, and we called another play,” Zimmer said after the game. “I was standing by the official, and I was trying to check to see if it really was a first down. I said to him, ‘Hey, is this a first down, because if not, then I’m going to call a timeout.’
“Then they started moving the sticks, so we let it go, and then they said it was fourth down,” Zimmer added. “Carl [Cheffers] came up to me later, and he said they screwed it up and shouldn’t have moved the sticks, and he could understand why I was upset, but luckily, it didn’t bite us. Sometimes those things happen.”