Vikes key players talk about Jacksonville Win 10 Sep 12

Vikings Linebacker Chad Greenway

Q: How did you feel about the pass defense against Blaine Gabbert?

A: The reason he had to get the ball out so fast is because of Jared (Allen), Brian Robison, and other guys getting pressure, so it always works together. We did a few different things that they probably had not seen on tape and I think that is going to help us.

Q: Seeing Adrian Peterson go out and do what he did, especially by becoming the franchise rushing leader, how does that make you guys feel?

A: I’m impressed with him and Percy (Harvin). The way Percy carried the ball and caught the ball was just unbelievable. I think he was really the kind of a guy that got us going offensively, at least from what I saw from the sideline. But, Adrian obviously being able to come out like that, and he had to get eighty or ninety yards, I’m not sure. To be able to give us that I’m sure that had to make Bill Musgrave feel real good. Kyle Rudolph looked good in the passing game. Like I said I think we are all going to take a big step forward next week and hopefully we can do that Vikings Kicker Blair Walsh

Q: Talk about that game- tying field goal?

A: Before the kick I was just prepping, trying to make sure my trajectory was right so I could hit a good ball, because I knew it was going to be a long kick no matter what we did. Our offense did a great job of actually getting to the sidelines and getting out of bounds, as well as making plays to where we can get in range.

Q: You looked so confident and calm when you went out there. Talk about that…

A: You have to do it. I mean, you’ve got to give yourself a chance to go out there and hit it and the snap and hold were perfect, the execution was perfect, I got a good hit on it and it went in.

Q: When you were warming up before the game how far were you hitting them from?

A: Right about that range, you know 57 or 58, right in there. I felt comfortable about it. They asked me where my range was and I said about that.

Q: What does it feel like, making a big kick like that to put the game into overtime?

A: It is awesome. We came out and fought so hard for this victory, and we worked so hard in the offseason, and this is the first time it actually counted. It is awesome to just go out there and get a win for these guys. Vikings QB Christian Ponder Well, it’s a good thing there are no pictures in the win/loss column. A win is a win and we’re so ecstatic that it ended in that fashion. I’m pretty sure that’s the first overtime game that I’ve ever played in and for us to pull that out was huge. There were clutch plays all over the place and I can’t say enough about Blair Walsh. For him to nail the field goal that was 55 yards, in his first real action, was unbelievable. For him to put us ahead in overtime was great. Obviously, he’s a great weapon for us to have on offense. He takes the pressure off of us because we know if we’re close, he’s going to get us points regardless. Adrian [Peterson] getting back changes the game. He ran with a purpose today and was so dynamic. We’re so excited to have him back. Percy [Harvin] catching the ball and running the ball as well. He made plays left and right. Guys stepped up in a big way. It didn’t start off that well and a lot of that has to do with me. I have to set the tone for this offense and play with a sense of urgency and I didn’t. We changed that around going into that last drive of the first half and continued that into the second half. Again, a win is a win and this one set the tone for the rest of the year. We’re going to enjoy this for the next two days and move on and focus on Indianapolis.

Q: What did you say in the huddle when there was 20 seconds left?

A: Even before we had to go out there, I was telling guys that we’re going to be a two minute offense and I don’t know if they believed me but I told them that we have to stay in it. Fortunately, they did. We were focused and the mind-set was that we have to go out. We had one time out left and we needed a completion. If we can score, then score. If not, then get down. We’re fortunate that Devin [Aromashodu] got open, caught the ball and got down. We called a time out and made a flat quick to get some extra yards and then Blair [Walsh] put it through the uprights. Again I can’t say enough about that guy [Walsh].

Q: What was going on early and the game and what changed late in the 2 nd quarter?

A: It starts with me and I didn’t play that well to be honest with you. I don’t know why but then I changed my attitude about the game and decided that I needed to pick it up and create a sense of urgency. Get out of the huddle and start letting the ball go. This offense is going to go with how the quarterback plays because he sets the tone for this whole offense. I need to make sure I’m on my A-game all the time, all 4 quarters. It’s something to learn from and next week it will be better. I have to start from play one to have that sense of urgency.

Q: Were you uptight to start?

A: No, I don’t know that I was uptight. There were some nerves like there would be for anyone. Anytime you’re playing in the first game of the year, there’s going to be a little nerves. I just have to get settled in and get out there, forget it, and go play.

Q: Did connecting with Percy Harvin on those screen passes help?

A: Yeah, it did. It makes my job a lot easier when I can throw a short little screen pass and Percy [Harvin] can turn it into 20 or 30 yards. He’s so dynamic. I think it’s important for us to get completions because once you get completions, you get into a rhythm. I have to do a better job of not forcing things down the field and get those completions so we can get our wheels going.

Q: Were there some plays that you don’t think you would have been able to make last year?

A: I can’t think of anything specific, but the game is definitely slowing down and I’m able to see the field better.

Q: Are there any runs made by Adrian Peterson that stick out in your mind?

A: He had several great ones and several long ones, especially at the goal line. He is so good with the ball in his hands. He’s such a playmaker and a gamer. For him to work his butt off and get back here since December 24th of last year, his commitment has paid off.

Q: Did you plan those last two plays before Blair Walsh’s ending field goal?

A: Yes, exactly. We were just trying to give everyone a show for the first home game of the season (laughs). We needed completions and we did that. Fortunately we had timeouts left to use. We could complete the ball and call time outs. It just worked out. Football is a situational game. We work every day on situations. Coach Frazier does a good job of implementing those kinds of situations into practice. That hard work paid off tonight.

Q: How important was the touchdown before half time?

A: Huge. We hadn’t had points all game and they were up 9-0. We knew we had to get points on the board. We went into 2 minute offense and when you do that, things are naturally going to pick up. I think that was a great starting point to set the tone for the second half. I think that definitely changed the momentum.

Q: Were there more soft spots in the opposing team’s defense in the second half of the game?

A: They were pretty soft in coverage. I think they were trying to make us run the ball and make me be patient and force balls down field. I turned the ball over once with that fumble, which I, obviously, wish I could take back. I don’t think they really changed much, but they were definitely softer on that last drive in the fourth quarter. We were able to take advantage of it.

Q: Why do you think it took until the second half for you to find Percy Harvin?

A: There was one play when I missed him early on that would have changed that. It is important for us to get the ball into Percy’s hands. He’s a playmaker and a guy that really help his offense. I need to do a better job of finding him and getting him the ball.

Q: Why do you think it was so easy for you to find Kyle Rudolph?

A: I mean, like I’ve said before, he’s a heck of a player. He is someone that I am very comfortable with getting the ball to. He finds ways to get open even though he’s a big time target.

Q: How does it affect you knowing that you’ve got Blair Walsh behind you?

A: It takes a lot of pressure off of us as an offense knowing that he’s there if we can get it close, or not even that close. Fifty-five yards isn’t really that close. For a guy that is so young to handle that pressure in his very first game was a testament to him and how good he is. I think he’s going to be a Viking for a long time.

Q: Was the official word on Adrian Peterson important to the team?

A: Well, we knew well before you all did. I think in his mind set that if Coach Frazier would have said no, he still would have dressed and played. It was very important to us because we are very excited to have him back out on the field. Toby [Gerhart] has obviously done a great job, but Adrian is one of the best guys in the league; especially now with his career rushing yards.

Q: How important was it to finish the game strong?

A: Last year we had an overtime game that we lost to Detroit, so it’s good to go out and turn the game around so early in the season. Coach Frazier’s two words are to execute and finish. It was a fourth quarter football game into overtime, but we finished. We finished in the right way and on top.

Q: Do you feel like you’re a different player than you were a year ago?

A: I think I have more confidence in what I’m doing, which is going to happen in your second year of playing. My teammates are doing such a great job of making me more comfortable with what I’m doing. They are accountable and they make my job a lot easier. There is definitely a different feel to it than last year.

Q: Did everyone know the overtime rule?

A: Yeah, we did know that. We could have ended the game a little sooner with last year’s rule, but everyone knew the rule and was well aware of what was going on.

Q: What do you think about that field goal block [Matt Kalil]?

A: It’s huge. That shows you how athletic he is. I’m very comfortable with him being at left tackle. That was a big play for us and a great play made by him. I don’t think we would have been able to tie the game in the fourth quarter without that. Vikings Running Back Adrian Peterson Q: Did you know all along you would play in this game? A: I had a pretty good idea. I pretty much knew that I’d be out playing today, just had to keep it under wraps.

Q: What are your feelings about today’s performance after all that you’ve gone through?

A: It feels amazing. I just give all honor to God because I put my faith in him ever since the surgery. I’ve had to work as hard as I’ve ever worked in my life. Through the ups and downs I knew it was going to be like a rollercoaster, and it was. I kept my faith throughout that and I’m able to kind of reap the rewards of that. We came out with a big win and I was able to contribute to that a good amount, so I’m all positive right now.

Q: Did you have any trepidation or nerves before you got that first carry?

A: Not really. The nerves came Friday and Saturday, around that time knowing that, ‘Hey, I’m finally here. It has been a long process, but I’m finally here.’ I was sitting in my room thinking this morning when I got up that, ‘I have done all that I need to do. I just need to relax and have faith that I’m going to be able to go out and perform well for the team.’ That’s what I did. I just relaxed and played my game.

Q: Did you get more carries than you expected?

A: It was less. I understand from their perspective, how they’re looking at it. But from my perspective, I knew I was ready to play. Ultimately that all doesn’t really matter, you know— the carries. We won. That’s a great way to start the season.

Q: Were there moments where you second guessed yourself?

A: Not at all. I just went out and played. I knew the structure of the ligament was good. I have learned that when you’re going out and you think about negative things, then nine times out of ten something bad will happen.

Q: Was there a hit that you took or a run where you knew you were back?

A: Not really, to be honest with you. After the first play I was actually upset because I missed a hole opening. After that play I really didn’t take a lick on my leg like that. I got up and knew it was going to be a pretty good day.

Q: On setting the career rushing record for the Vikings…

A: It’s a great honor. Robert Smith has had this record for a good period of time. To top him feels amazing. I definitely have to contribute it to my offensive line, both present and guys that have departed from here like Steve Hutchison and Bryant McKinnie, all those guys before who were a part of that. If those guys are listening, I appreciate you guys.

Q: Did Christian Ponder seem like a different guy the last two thirds of the game?

A: He definitely picked it up. I feel like he came through when we needed him the most but he wasn’t the only guy that started slow. We were looking pretty rough on both sides of the ball. Speaking offensively, we came in at halftime and made a couple of adjustments. Bill [Musgrave] said we were going to continue to run the ball, pound and just get settled. I don’t know if it was nerves or what but we were able to come out the second half and be more productive offensively, move the ball and put ourselves in good position.

Q: Does Christian Ponder look like a different player from last year?

A: He had a full offseason and he kind of got thrown out to the wolves last year. Just watching him through training camp and seeing him improve, his confidence, speaking up more, just the determination and willpower I see in him when I look in his eyes, and he’s showing that. We all need to take it and we can learn from this game and just make improvements.

Q: What was the most emotional moment of the day?

A: I think coming out of the tunnel, that tunnel vision that I had, it was there; it was presented to me right there that I’ve been having since the surgery. That was probably the most emotional part but then at the end too, those guys getting in the end zone with 20 seconds left, I’m sure everybody thought the game was over but that didn’t matter. We had guys on the sideline who knew that we had 20 seconds to keep fighting and keep the faith and let’s take advantage of the opportunity that comes to us. We did that when Walsh got in there and made that great kick at 57 yards for us. I’ve been bragging on this guy so when he made it I was looking out to the stands for my Uncle. I’ve seen this guy make a 70-yard field goal during training camp. I’ll find him when I get downstairs and say, “I told you about that guy. He’s good; he has a good leg.”

Q: Did you hear the crowd when you got introduced?

A: Yeah, I heard them. It was loud but I was in the zone. I was just thanking God that I was able to accomplish what I set out for and that was to come out and play the today. Give a little kiss to him and know that I appreciate him for helping me get to where I am now.

Q: Do you think you set the bar pretty high for other athletes coming back from a torn ACL?

A: I hope so; I hope that I inspire a lot of people. Just to change their mentality, I think that’s the biggest part mentally. Guys, they’re buying into what other people are saying about it and just mentally, that was the toughest thing for me. I understood that if I kept doing my therapy and kept working hard that it would be okay. Hopefully somebody around the world will look at this and be inspired.

Q: How does the feedback from your teammates help you? They think you’re amazing, unhuman.

A: It really affects me a lot. Just to hear from Jared Allen or [Chad] Greenway or [Brian] Robison, some of the things that they say, I have to sit back and kind of think, ‘Wow, God has truly blessed me with this talent of caliber.’ These guys are in the same league that I’m in, the best of the best. I give them credit, but it’s just a blessing.

Q: Were you making a point to get up quicker?

A: No, not really. I didn’t really want to make a point. Those guys were holding on after the whistle so I was trying to kick them off (laughing).

Q: Were you frustrated when you didn’t get the ball for a chance to score a touchdown in the fourth quarter?

A: Not really, a little bit, just because of the competitiveness in me. I want to get the ball; I want to be able to help my team. I have faith in Bill Musgrave. He’s been doing a good job and he put us in a position to win with 20 seconds left so I’m not complaining.

Q: How big is it for you to come out with a win after this game?

A: It was huge for us. It was our first home game win to open the season in four or five years. We’ve got a lot of young guys on this team so it was good for us as an organization, for the team to be able to pull out a big ‘W’, especially in the fashion that we did.

Q: After your vision of coming back so soon, what do you have to say to your doubters?

A: I don’t know what to say to them. It really doesn’t matter. Hopefully they look at things differently; hopefully it was an eye opener for them. During the process it really didn’t matter what everyone else had to say. I had my vision, I knew what I wanted to do, and that’s all that matters. That goes for everyone, it doesn’t matter who you are. If you work hard to get it, it’s going to happen no matter who’s saying what or this opinion or that opinion. If you believe, it will work. It’s simple.

Q: Are you ready for as much playing time as you had before your injury?

A: Do I think I’m ready? Yeah, I’m feeling good right now! My legs are loose. Seriously, I’m feeling really good. I’m ready to carry the load.