VIKINGS HEAD COACH MIKE ZIMMER
Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, December 2, 2018
MZ: OK, credit to New England, they played better than we did tonight. They had us off balance a little bit on both sides of the ball and we didn’t react very well to it, so get back next week, and get back to work.
Q: What do you think you need to do to get the offense back to rolling a little bit better?
MZ: Same thing I have been saying all year.
Q: Do you think you ran the ball enough?
Q: Do you think it kind of caught up with you, some of the injuries in the secondary? I mean you lost [Trae] Waynes and then [Xavier] Rhodes obviously wasn’t 100%. Did that kind of caught up, you think?
MZ: No, I don’t think so, we played the one touchdown pass wrong and we missed the tackle. I don’t think we tackled very well tonight defensively.
Q: Was just allowing the quick touchdown disappointing?
Q: On the long third and fourth-down situations there, passing underneath, were you comfortable with that approach?
MZ: Well, it really was what they were giving us. You know, those are tough situations there. But, you know, I have some thoughts on things, but I’m not going to share them.
Q: What did they do to kind of take out [Adam] Thielin and [Stephon] Diggs out of the game and pretty much make you throw short to your backs in the passing game.
MZ: Well, there are usually a lot of double coverages on guys and they had some looks where they were showing a lot of zeros and backing guys out and then, once and a while, they’d come on the fourth down, they made us throw the ball to [Laquon] Treadwell because we didn’t have enough guys to block it.
Q: It was one of those games again where it was the mistakes. That interception in the end zone – Dalvin [Cook] said that’s where it kind of deflated the team. Did you sense that?
MZ: No, I didn’t sense that. You know, we got the turnover there, and then we turned the ball over, but I just feel like we didn’t start out very good. You know, they came out and scored on us defensively. And you know, we went three and out on offense, I believe. So, you know, the start of the game was more disappointing. Then we settled down and started playing ok, but they did a nice job tonight.
Q: Mike, your defense has been good on third downs this year, but I think they were 7-of-14. Did you see that as a big factor today?
MZ: Yeah I mean, you know, some of them were third-and-shorts. So, but we’ve been pretty good with that. But they did a nice job there. You know, they had the one rocket sweep that they ran, trying to think what else went on, but yeah, it is a big factor. We were 3-for-12 and they were 7-for-14.
Q: Xavior [Rhodes], did you want to ease him in, or was the plan to rotate him every other series?
MZ: It was to rotate.
Q: How do you feel he did and how was his health with the hamstring injury?
MZ: I don’t know.
Q: Mike, not many teams come in here and score 10 points and win, but when we think of the Patriots, we think of [Tom] Brady and the offense. But the defense has been playing pretty well. What kind of defense is the Patriots and why were they successful?
MZ: I thought they played aggressive tonight. I thought they did a good job of mixing up what they were doing defensively and changing to a lot of different things. A lot of guys standing up and coming from different areas and so I thought they did a nice job of trying to confuse us.
Q: Was there an area at the end of the second quarter, beginning of the third where you felt like you were able to take them out of their comfort zone a little bit when the game was tied?
MZ: Are you talking about offensively?
Q: Yeah, I guess a little bit of both…
MZ: I thought when we picked up the tempo of the offense, it helped a little bit, because you know they were lining up in a lot of different places and moving around. So, I thought we needed to get up on the ball and go fast, so they didn’t have time to do all of those things.
Q: We didn’t hear [Josh] Gordon’s name for much of three quarters, then four or five plays and a touchdown. Obviously a very good player, what did you do to keep him out and what happened?
MZ: We just did what we normally do.
Q: How are you feeling about your team and your situation?
MZ: I feel fine about my team. You know, I think we continue to learn a lot about ourselves. You know, I think we got a good football team, we just got to play better than we did tonight. This one game won’t define us. We got four games left, you know. The season is still in front of us, whatever we want to do.
Q: What do you think is the main thing you will learn from this one?
MZ: I am going to talk to the team about that.
Q: Do you have any thoughts on the Packers firing Mike McCarthy today?
MZ: No, I didn’t even know about it. I think it’s a sad, sad deal. Mike McCarthy is a good football coach, I think it’s a mistake. Just one man’s opinion.
VIKINGS QUARTERBACK KIRK COUSINS
Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, December 2, 2018
Q: What were the Patriots able to do to keep you off-balance in the first four or five drives?
KC: It all runs together right now. Until I go back and watch the film, I can’t give you the best answer. But I think it was a combination of a good job in coverage and certainly we made some mistakes, but I think they just did a good job of playing their scheme.
Q: Can you talk about how they took Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs out of the game? You had to throw to your backs and throw short.
KC: Yeah, we had a feeling they were going to be able to do that or try to do that and they did for the most part. One of the times they were doubling Adam was the time where we had a chance to hit a big play to him and the ball was just a foot too far on the third down. We almost came down with it but it was an incompletion and that was a situation where they were trying to double him and he’s still able to have the chance for an explosive play there. We felt that going into the game, as much as they may try to take them away, that there would still be opportunities there as well as opportunities to Rudy [Kyle Rudolph] and our backs and Aldrick [Robinson] and Laquon [Treadwell] and there certainly were at times. But other times, we just didn’t as an offense find a way to get it done.
Q: Were the looks you were getting from their defense in coverage kind of prevent you from taking some deep shots? Would you have liked to have taken more deep shots?
KC: I think it’s a mixture. I think there was one time where we did take a shot over the free safety’s head but I just didn’t put it on the right side of the field towards where Diggsy [Stefon Diggs] was. Other times we were just trying to get ahead of the chains and trying to keep it to manageable third downs. It was a mixture, they mixed it up. I don’t know that they line up in any one defense over and over where you feel like you know what you’re going to get.
Q: When you picked up the tempo you started to get things rolling. Dalvin Cook said that interception in the end zone is kind of when the team got deflated but Mike Zimmer said he was more frustrated at the beginning start. Where do you stand on that?
KC: I don’t know, I don’t know. You know, I treat each drive as its own entity, each play as its own entity and you just can’t allow a previous play to affect your approach, you can’t allow an uphill battle that you have ahead of you to affect the way you execute the individual play. You just have to treat each of them in a vacuum and play them out the best you can based on the situation.
Q: Did they do a good job of disguising their looks pre-snap?
KC: I would say so. I think it was more bluffing Cover-0 and bringing Cover-0 and rotating between those. I think that they did that consistently throughout the game.
Q: Have they shown that on film before?
KC: Yeah, they had shown it. Probably not as much as they did tonight. But that was certainly part of their game.
Q: On the third-and-long, fourth-and-long sequence, did you have to throw underneath or do you think you had a chance to get those guys in a position where they could break a tackle and make a play?
KC: Yeah, it was Cover-0 on the fourth down so if you do break a tackle, it’s hopefully a touchdown. It was just playing with our rules within the offense of if that free safety blitzes, the route he runs, the throw I make, that’s what we do. Obviously on fourth down, with the yards needed, it would have been great to draw one up in the dirt there, hand-signal something, come up with something different. But I thought maybe we’d break a tackle. Some of it was probably also the fact that they had brought Cover-0 so much that they were expecting certain routes or certain adjustments too.
Q: On that two minute drive that led to that touchdown by Adam Thielen, what were you noticing about going hurry-up there that might have taken them out of their comfort zone a little bit?
KC: I don’t know. I don’t think they felt uncomfortable as we were driving, I just think the first play they brought a zone pressure and Diggsy [Stefon Diggs] got open over the middle and then Rudy [Kyle Rudolph] was in man coverage, made an unbelievable catch in the seam, in tight coverage. So they defended it well but guys were making plays and we were just able to stay ahead of the chains and stay out of third downs and just find ways to be explosive on that drive.
Q: What was the team thinking at halftime? That you got the momentum and it was a good feeling or how would you characterize that?
KC: We certainly went into the half optimistic, feeling good. Obviously you get some momentum there, football’s a game of momentum and we had some there at the end of the half. We knew it was going to be a dogfight in the second half. We knew that anytime you play here against the Patriots, that they’re not going to go away quietly at all. So we knew it was going to be a tough battle in the second half regardless of how the first half ended.
Q: You talk about staying ahead of the chains. How much then did the holding penalties kind of put things off-course?
KC: Yeah, I felt like any time you’re in second-and-20 or first-and-20, it’s a tough deal. First-and-10’s hard enough, second-and-10’s hard enough, but overcoming that was certainly part of the challenge.
Q: Do you think that took you out of your rhythm a little bit with the run game?
KC: Yeah, it’s hard to call a run on second-and-20 because you’re basically going to be looking at third-and-15 most of the time and that’s not a place you want to be. So that’s where it became more of a drop-back game and I don’t know if that’s the game we wanted to play from the start, I don’t think we wanted to just be dropping back all the time, I think we wanted to be more multiple and creative and sometimes the situation dictated we had to do that.
Q: What did you think about the balance overall?
KC: Yeah I just think the last five minutes of the game, down two scores, a lot of times in games where we’re ahead or tied, you’re getting a dozen more rushing attempts in those five and a half minutes because of the situation the game dictates and that you just want to pound the rock, especially if you have a lead. So many times the situation of the game can dictate that as well. We can do a better job to make sure we’re not down two scores with five and a half minutes left so that then we can run the ball more in the fourth quarter.
Q: Is there a level of frustration with the two balls in the end zone to Adam Thielen and Aldrick Robinson where both of them clearly thought they were interfered with?
KC: Well it all happened so fast that it’s hard to know what’s interference or not in the moment. I went over to the ref and just asked him, “Why wasn’t there a pass interference? Can you help me understand what took place?” It would seem that they were unable to get to the football, but he explained what he thought happened and why it wasn’t and I said okay and we moved on. But certainly those were plays that when they fall incomplete, it’s tough to have to settle for three.
Q: What did you see that you liked about trying for those plays?
KC: Well, they had lower safeties playing in a quarters look and so they’re doubling Adam [Thielen] and so we had one-on-one on the outside to Aldrick [Robinson] on one of them. The other one was Adam was one-on-one so I wanted to give him an opportunity there and get a chance to go over the top a little bit. Would love to hit one of those, but we just didn’t.
Q: Here and in Chicago, you got it going when you went no-huddle. Could that be a bigger part of the offense going forward?
KC: Yeah I don’t know. I think it’s something we’ve got to talk about. Any time you can do as well as we’ve done in that two minute mode, it’s got to say something about maybe what we do well or trying to emphasize something we could be good at. But I think that’s also the coaches have got to look and decide what they want to do. But I think we seem to have been productive – and I would even argue, two minute at the end of the half against the Packers and some other games this year, we’ve done a good job in two minute going down at the end of the half to try to get a field goal or get a touchdown.
Q: What are the Patriots doing well defensively? Why are they holding you to 10 points?
KC: I think they use a good scheme. I think they did a good job with whether it was Cover-0 or bluffing Cover-0 or having a bit of a walk-around where they’re not really giving any tells pre-snap, that certainly seemed to be an emphasis for them this week, that they were going to basically keep you guessing until after the snap. I thought they did a good job with that this week.
Q: Do you find any consolation in the Bears losing?
KC: Yeah, I’ve never really gotten too caught up in what’s going on around us because we know that ultimately it’s about what we do and if you win games, you put yourself in a position. I know it’s important that we just get in. I’d love a home playoff game but if we can get in, anything can happen. That’s really where my focus is, is just put ourselves in a position at the end of the 16 games to be in and then it’s a fresh start and you hit the reset button and then you go from there. So we’ve just got to obviously get to Week 17, the sixteenth game and have won enough to be in.
Q: Mike Zimmer says he feels as a team, you guys are fine and that you learn from every loss. Is it too soon to say what you think you’ll learn from this one?
KC: I thought our defense played really well. I thought they kept us in the game, I thought Dalvin Cook did a really good job, both in the run game and the pass game. I like our locker room, I think we work hard, I think we had the right approach coming in here, I think that we just didn’t make enough plays today. But these games are all their own entity and so this doesn’t carry over to next week, you hit the reset button, you head to Seattle and you try to put on a great performance there and if you do that, you can be feeling pretty good about yourself pretty quickly. I think we have a good group, we had the right mindset and now we just need to have a great week of practice and have a better result next week in Seattle.
Q: How much collaboration is there between drives with you, Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs and John DeFilippo as teams are taking away Thielen and Diggs and you’re trying to get them more involved? How much do you work on that?
KC: Yeah, there’s constant dialogue of just talking about play thoughts that we have for the next drive, rehashing the previous drive, talking about what may work and maybe why I went with the ball where I did on the previous drive or just taking ownership if there was a mistake. Just saying, “Hey, that was my fault.” So there’s constant dialogue and that’s every week, after every series, you’re trying to continue to stay on the same page.
PLAYERS IN THE LOCKER ROOM
Anthony Barr, LB
(On what happened after the Vikings tied the game in the third quarter)
“We did a good job but we just didn’t do good enough. There are certain situations where we have to do better. In the third quarter, we have to get off the field and give our offense the ball back.”
(On the lack of pressure they were able to get against the Patriots offense)
“I mean, he was getting the ball out of real fast. They were in a lot of third and short situations and we weren’t able to get after them the way we wanted to.”
(On the level of frustration of not being able to finish)
“It’s always frustrating when you lose. No one wants to lose. We have a good offense so we just need to take care of our side of the ball.”
Tom Compton, G
(On the Patriots defense)
“They just did more of what they hadn’t shown a lot of and they took something they did sometimes and they did it a lot more. It felt like we were getting some good runs. I don’t know what the deal was but it felt like we were hitting some holes. We just have to do better.”
Dalvin Cook, RB
(On the outcome of the game)
“With a great quarterback like Tom [Brady] you can’t make mistakes and you can’t do the little things wrong. You have to take advantage of everything they give you. Once they give it to you, you have to run with it. We did not do a good job of that today.”
(On how the Patriots defended the Vikings)
“We did what we wanted to do; they didn’t keep us one dimensional. We ran the football and we threw the football. We just committed little mistakes when they were not supposed to be committed and that was turning point in the game. When you’re playing against a good time like that, you just can’t do it.”
(On playing tough against the Patriots)
“We knew that, it is no if, ands or buts about it, we know we can play with them. There was never a doubt, before, during or after the game. We just shot ourselves in the foot and that was it.”
Pat Elflein, C
(On the loss)
“We just have to get back to work. We have to watch the film see what we didn’t do right and study that to get going on next week. That’s the thing about the NFL. You lose a game, a tough game, but the next week you got a big one coming up again. So you really have to shift gears and say you’re going on to Seattle and focus on them.”
Eric Kendricks, LB
(On defending third downs)
“We are always confident in situations like that; they just made a few more plays.”
(On Josh Gordon’s touchdown and the challenge of defending him)
“It was a catch it and score play. It was a great throw. You saw it out there; he is a big guy and a big target. He has been doing for years. It is what it is and we need to do better.”
Latavius Murray, RB
(On the running game)
“I think we ran the ball really well. I don’t know what the average is, but I know he [Dalvin Cook] had nine [rushing attempts] for about [84 yards]. Obviously we have to have a better outcome in some other areas so we can get them dialed up some more, and get them called some more.”
(On squandering a chance to gain some ground in the division)
“Yeah it’s not over. Obviously this game was important because it was our next game and we can’t look at what other teams are doing. We have to take care of business and do whatever it is that we have to do to win games and today we didn’t do that. So it’s not over. We still have everything out there in front of us right now, but there definitely needs to be a sense of urgency on getting that done.”
(On the Patriots)
“It’s a really good team, and a team that plays really well at home. They rarely beat themselves. Even today they had some penalties and made some mistakes that we could have capitalized on, but didn’t. Again, it’s a combination of a good team and being a tough place to play. You have to, I don’t want to say always be perfect, but you have to come in here and play well.”
Xavier Rhodes, CB
(On letting the game get away in the third quarter)
“Yeah, we just need to minimize our mistakes. They were able to capitalize on our mistakes. We have to be able to get off the field. They were clicking on all cylinders and they just capitalized on the few mistakes we made.”
(On how he felt playing through injury)
“It was a battle, but no matter what, I’m going to fight through for my team. It was good, nothing major. We were just being cautious about it.”
(On what happened on the Josh Gordon touchdown)
“Like I said, there were some mental errors on that drive, and they just capitalized on our mental errors on defense. We just have to get better heading into next week.”
Aldrick Robinson, WR
(On what happened on the interception in the end zone)
“When I ran the route, I felt open. When the ball started coming down, I didn’t know how far away the DB was, and he was closer than I thought. He reached in and made a great play.”
(On whether he felt he was able to get more opportunities because the defense was paying attention to Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs)
“Yeah, you know they are going to get a lot of attention, so you have to win the one-on-one battle. They played a lot of man coverage today and you have to take advantage of it.”
(On whether he thought he was interfered with on the play in the end zone)
“Which one? No, they call it bang-bang and they say, ‘Let them play.’ I think that was one of those times where they let us play. I have to get stronger and be able to rip through his arms so I can get my hands on the ball and make the catch.”
Kyle Rudolph, TE
(On the Patriots defensive game plan)
“They got us early on some pressures, but it wasn’t anything we hadn’t seen before. It’s hard when you get down. We had to abandon the run game. We got down multiple scores and we had guys who were running the ball extremely well. It’s hard when you have to become one dimensional, especially against a defense with a head coach who has done this for so long at such a high level. When you become one dimensional you become really easy to defend.”
(On the run game)
“We did a really good job tonight in the run game with our opportunities, getting on the edge. It’s just a shame we weren’t able to stick with it.”
Harrison Smith, S
(On Xavier Rhodes)
“He’s a tough dude; if he can be out there he’s going to be out there. He cares about the game; he cares about us as teammates. So that’s why he was out there.”
(On the loss)
“I don’t think I’ve ever not been frustrated with a loss in any sport in my life. It’s always frustrating, you have to learn from it and move on to the next week, that’s how this league is.”
(On the other division teams’ losses)
“I don’t watch the games. If we’re playing later I don’t watch the games before us. Whatever happens whatever, I try and focus on what we can control, and that’s all that really matters to us right now.”
Adam Thielen, WR
(On non-calls by the referees)
“Those are plays that could go either way. As a competitor you want that call. At the same time it could have gone both ways. I understand the ref doing what he did. Like I said, as a competitor you are competing, you want to catch the ball first of all. When you don’t have the opportunity to try to catch the ball usually you want the flag. It’s part of football. Like I said, it could have gone both ways.”
(On having words with Coach Belichick)
“Obviously I’ve got to keep my cool. I have a lot of respect for him and what he’s done. I can’t lose it like that.”
(On how the Patriots defended him)
“A lot of times they had guys on both sides of me and a few times they had one guy on me - but nothing different than we’ve seen in the past weeks. They did a great job. They didn’t let me get going. They got some really good players, they have great coaches and we knew that coming into the game. We knew they would have a great scheme for us. We know they have great players and they did a great job, obviously. We have got to get better. I have got to get a lot better, personally. I didn’t make the plays that I needed to make to help this football team. It was a huge game for us, we felt like we prepared really well. We had a great week of practice but we just didn’t execute. In these games there are always probably five or six plays that you can look back on make a difference in the game and I was involved in a few of those that I should have capitalized on. Again, all you can do is look at yourself and try to get better.”
(On his touchdown)
“You want to score at the end of the half and then obviously get the ball back. That was a huge point in the game that could have really changed things. But obviously we didn’t capitalize moving forward.”
Stephen Weatherly, Defensive End
(On the game)
“We can’t give them third down and manageable. We have to do better on first and second downs to get them in a third and medium and especially we need third and long. You have a better chance of stopping them so they don’t have 50 percent on their third-down conversions, so we have more opportunities on offense to go do what they did.”
(On the adjustments at halftime)
“We came in and saw how they were attacking us and we did what the coach told us to do at halftime. We made some pretty good stops there coming out of half.”
(On the Patriots ability to score quickly in the second half)
“No, we just were not sticking to our keys. We weren’t doing what we were supposed to do on those plays. They hit us quick. The only thing we needed to do was come back and respond and we would have still been in it. We still had a chance there late and we didn’t take advantage of our opportunities that we had.”