Viking Players react to 24-13 win over SF 24 Sep 12

Vikings Cornerback Antoine Winfield

 

Q: Did the secondary step up today?

A: Yeah, that helped. The turnovers, the past two games, the secondary gave them too

many plays but the guys went out there today and did their jobs.

 

Q: What about the age of this team? This is a pretty young team and your obviously

not one those guys but what can it do for the development of this team?

A: It definitely helps. We knew coming into this game that it was going to be a big game

playing at home, playing against a great opponent. Guys took it upon themselves to go in

and study and came out here and did their job.

 

Q: Did you care much what everyone else in the world thought?

A: Absolutely not. I’m sure Vegas had us as the under dogs but we went out there and did

our job and a lot of people lost their money.

 

Q: Did you guys refocus yourselves after last week’s loss?

A: You don’t want to fall into a pit. In this league it’s week-to-week and every week you have

to go out there and prepare to go out there and play well. We didn’t play our best football

last week and I think we were headed in the right direction this week.

 

Q: Doing it against a team like San Francisco, how big is that?

A: That helps. I guess all the experts are picking them to go to the Super Bowl. I mean,

they are a great talent but we did our job and came out with a big win.

 

Q: Playing physical is kind of a big point too?

A: Every week is physical, I mean it really doesn’t matter who you’re playing against. We’re

out there playing for pride and playing for our teammates and we just did a better job of that

today.

 

Vikings Tight End Kyle Rudolph

 

Q: Did you get away with a push on that first TD?

A: I was just trying to get him off me, so you can look at it either way.

 

Q: Do you see Christian’s confidence building each game?

A: Definitely, that’s what we’ve seen out of Christian since he’s got here. I’m just so happy

for him that he can go out there and play like we all know he can.

 

Q: On that first TD, did you see him roll to the left and you came back across?

A: No, it was just a naked to the left. That’s a play that we’ve been working on and Christian

made a great throw again.

 

Q: How big is this win?

A: It’s huge for the rest of our season. This is a springboard. We wanted to get back on the

right track. It’s extremely important to protect home field. You’ve got to give a lot of credit to

the 49ers because they are a great football team.

 

Q: What does it do for your confidence as a team?

A: It’s a huge springboard for us. It doesn’t get any easier. We’re going to Detroit next week.

It’s a big division game for us. We’ve got to enjoy this one now, but get back to work.

 

Q: After catching four passes early, did you think they would get back to you or were

you wondering where the ball was?

A: I have all the trust in the world in Coach Musgrave. I think he called a great game today,

getting the ball spread out to all of our playmakers. I knew it would come back eventually; I

just had to stay ready.

 

Q: Talk about Christian’s ability to throw on the run.

A: We have success throwing on the run because you’ve got to respect the run first. He

made a couple huge plays with his feet, getting big first downs for us. That just adds an

extra dynamic.

 

Q: How much more dangerous is this offense next week when Jerome Simpson

returns?

A: We’ll get better. Any time you add a guy like that who can take the top off a defense.

We’re excited to get Jerome back and we’re excited to get back out there on Wednesday.

 

Q: Talk about the late hit penalty that set up a TD.

A: I don’t know if it was a late hit or a blow to the head, but it was a defenseless receiver

and he took a shot. It was a huge play for us to get down there.

 

Q: Do you and Ponder talk, if you do this, I’ll do that?

A: I think it’s just something we work on all throughout practice. Whether it’s actual reps or

extra reps or just watching tape. He knew the look right away and made a great throw.

 

Q: Do you and Christian ever step back and think of the tandem you could be a few

years from now?

A: We don’t have time to think about that. We’ve got to worry Detroit next week. It’s not

getting any easier for us. We can worry about that when we have the time in the offseason.

But right now our focus is winning each week.

 

Q: How do you think you pose defensive matchup problems in the red zone?

A: I think we have a lot of guys on our team that pose matchup problems. Just at our

position group alone, when you look at a guy like John Carlson and getting Jerome back

next week with his speed. Everyone knows about Percy, he is one of the hardest guys to

defend man-to-man in this league.

 

Q: Were you the primary option on that first TD?

A: I was. It was a run/pass read and Christian made a great decision. He rolled out of the

pocket and made a good throw.

 

Q: Do you think he has a comfort level with you because it looked like you were

covered on that last TD and others were open.

A: I like to be there for him any time. We got that Cover 0 look. They all-out blitzed and he

just threw it up.

 

Q: Is that the most poise you’ve seen Christian play with?

A: He has a poise and confidence about himself in the huddle that the rest of the offense

feeds off of. He made a lot of great plays and he’s only getting better.

 

Q: Is this the biggest win since you’ve been here?

A: Definitely.

 

Vikings Linebacker Chad Greenway

 

Q: What does this win mean for you?

A: When you can get a team that is coming off two big wins, beating teams in our division,

you feel good about what you are doing. We really wanted to win at home, first and

foremost and hold court here, consider that accomplished. They are a great football team;

they are going to win a lot of football games. We feel like if we can replicate what we did

here today every week and be consistent we have a chance to do something.

 

Q: You did it with defense today, a lot of third downs they didn’t convert and you left

them in the middle of the field.

A: It is just the things that we have talked about the last few weeks. You leave plays out

there, you leave third downs out there, we talked about if you don’t do that, we are with

anybody. You have to do it and you have to do it consistently. No excuses, no explanations,

we are just going to go back to work. We know how long the season is and we know the

mentality that our coaches have and what we have. That is going to be the way that it is

around here. We are going to have to work for everything we get. It’s not going to be pretty

but we know we can beat anybody if we play well.

 

Vikings Quarterback Christian Ponder

 

I can’t say enough. What a great team win. We came out, obviously after last week’s

tough loss, and we knew we had to change our attitude and have our mind right for

this one and we talked about not turning one loss into two and we knew that ever

since the beginning of summer, everyone has been counting us out and probably

counted us out of this game. We know what kind of personnel we have and the kind

of players we have and we came out and Coach (Bill) Musgrave came up with a

brilliant game plan and all we had to do was execute. Execute and finish, and those

are always the two words we talk about, Coach (Leslie) Frazier brings up and we

believed we could do it and we did it. The good thing about the NFL is we’ll enjoy this

one but it’s only the third game of the year and we have 13 more.

 

Q: Was there any hesitation to go for it on 4th down?

A: No, I don’t think so. We stayed out there, us, assuming that we would go for it and we

did. I think it set the tone for the whole game and I think that was a 16-play drive to begin

the game and we talked about starting fast. We started fast.

 

Q: Were you expecting pressure on that first TD pass?

A: We had always seen them on film, the defensive ends crashing down and for some

reason, I guess he assumed the naked was going to come, he didn’t crash down and came

up field and fortunately Kyle (Rudolph) was wide open so it worked out well.

 

Q: At what point during your rollout did you find him?

A: I kept backing up, backing up, trying to find him and then he just popped and I just put air

under the ball and let him go get it.

 

Q: On that second touchdown pass, he wasn’t really open?

A: It was Cover Zero, they were bringing all pressure and it was one-on-ones and a

mismatch with him on a linebacker and so I gave ground and I knew that for him, it was a

mismatch and before he even came out of the break, I didn’t have time so I just put it up

and it was a little short and he made a heck of a play. That was an unbelievable play for

him. That was a big score for us.

 

Q: When you’re in the red zone, do you feel you have a mismatch with Kyle Rudolph?

A: Yeah, I think anywhere on the field we have a mismatch with him and that goes between

Percy (Harvin) and Adrian (Peterson) and Kyle. Our personnel is awesome and we have a

lot of good players. We’re going to create mismatches on anybody, wherever we’re at.

 

Q: Can you talk about the one you pulled down and ran for a touchdown?

A: You know, it was kind of like a little quirky play that we were trying to run and try to pump

Percy on a screen and throw it over the top and they played it. The linebacker made a smart

play and he played it. I knew it was man coverage so I just pulled it down and ran with it. I

thought it felt like a lot longer than 23 yards but I’ll take it.

 

Q: Can you talk about how the game appears to be coming to you more than you

going to it?

A: Yeah, a big thing from last year to this year, talking about the game slowing down for me

and the more plays I get, the more film I watch, it slows down and I just feel so much more

comfortable in what I’m doing and it helps when the players around you are playing so well.

I can’t speak enough about our offensive line, to dominate the best front seven in the NFL

and between Adrian, our running game, and Toby (Gerhart) and Kyle, and John Carlson

and Rhett Ellison and all of our receivers. I’m not going to force things downfield when I can

throw it short to one of those guys, they can make a big play downfield. That’s what we’re

going to do.

 

Q: How much does a win like this bolster your confidence?

A: It’s big, obviously. I think more for people outside this organization than us. We’re already

confident in what we can do and I think we’re just going to show people outside what kind

of team we have. Every year our goal is to go win a Super Bowl and we’re confident we

will always have that ability and that’s how every team is. Everyone thinks they’re going to

make it to the Super Bowl but we know that we’re a good team and again, this is the third

game and we haven’t won the Super Bowl. There’s 13 games left and we’re not declaring

ourselves champions of anything.

 

Q: How much of a luxury is it to have a guy like Percy Harvin?

A: It’s huge. Again, when you can throw a short, little bubble route or a swing to him and he

gets 15 or 20 yards on it pretty much every time, I mean it’s something that you can just rely

on and that’s a big part of this offense and also in the running game. When you start seeing

San Francisco start doubling him, you’re taking away a defender on the run game when

they’re worried about Percy Harvin and he’s such a big part of this offense and we’re going

to keep giving him the ball and he’s going to keep making plays for the rest of the season.

 

Q: What was the most important thing for you to do against that defense?

A: Obviously we knew that turnovers were big for them. They were number one in turnovers

last year so just to play smart and not force anything and that’s going to be the key for the

whole year. Big plays are going to come to us but we’re not going to force anything. We’re

going to keep the ball in our hands and play smart.

 

Q: Was this your best game as a pro?

A: I don’t know, I guess. That’s probably what people will say. I think it’s the biggest win, for

sure against a very good opponent. But again, it makes it easier when the guys around me

are making plays and I think the biggest thing for us is we didn’t shoot ourselves in the foot

today. I think we had one penalty and that was probably the difference between this week

and last week but as a team, we’re very close and we’re getting better and for me, I just

have to progress week-to-week.

 

Q: How much of your ability to scramble took away some of the aggressiveness of

their defense?

A: I know that it probably makes it tough on the defensive line. I think it’s a big part of my

game and when our receivers can’t get open and if I buy some extra time, eventually they’re

going to get open, they are going to beat the defensive backs and that happened on a

couple plays today.

 

Q: Can you talk about your touchdown run and when you starting thinking end zone?

A: Right when I took it down, I saw a big running lane and figured that if my white legs were

fast enough, maybe I would get there. I got there, so it was good.

 

Q: How important was it before the half to get the blocked field goal and then turn

around and get a field goal?

A: It was huge. We kept three points off the board for them and we came down and Blair

Walsh kicked a long field goal for sure, 52 yards and for us, it was a six-point swing and

it kept the momentum on our side and we finished that first half strong and we came out

the second half and played a little bit slower but the defense hung in there and played

extremely well and probably played their best game of the year so far.

 

Q: When you say it’s a confidence builder for those outside the organization, do you

mean the fans?

A: Yeah, I think for the fans. Obviously, I think probably a lot of people handled the loss last

week pretty tough, we did too. We don’t want to lose games but again, I think it goes back

to our expectations internally that we’re going to go out and be competitive in the NFC North

and make the playoffs and compete for a Super Bowl. Looking back on all the preseason

picks, we were dead last in the NFC North. Again, we’re confident in what we can do.

 

Q: Is this one of those games where the defense took pressure off of you?

A: Yeah, they did. Especially in that second half when we weren’t really moving the ball that

well. They created turnovers. They stopped them on big plays, especially in the opening of

the second half, they took that big kickoff return back and held them to a field goal. That’s

huge. They played extremely well. They made plays when they were supposed to and

again, it was a team win for sure.

 

Q: What will the return of Jerome Simpson do for this offense?

A: Obviously he’s a great player and we’re going to find ways to use him and get the ball to

him. We’re excited he’ll be back for this game.

 

Q: How key was throwing short passes today to the offense?

A: We’re going to keep taking what they give us and if they give us the underneath stuff,

that’s fine. I checked the ball down to Adrian a couple of times and he made big plays with

it. We’re not going to force anything downfield when we don’t have to.

 

Q: How tough has it become with the replacement officials?

A: There’s not much I can say. They’re trying and they’re doing the best they can. It’s

something we can’t control so we can’t worry about it. A win makes it all better.

 

Q: Is there frustration though?

A: It’s only frustrating if you let it make you frustrated and we talked about it, we’re just

going to stay focused on what we’re doing on the field and if you worry about what you can’t

control, then it’s taking away from how you can play.

 

Q: In the final minutes of halves, how confident are you that you’re going to score?

A: We try to have confidence every time we get the ball we’re going to get points and I think

we’re executing the two-minute offense very well this year, something we worked on in the

OTAs and everything. Again, it’s just the mindset that when we get the ball, we have that

attitude that we want to go score every time.

 

Q: Can you take us through the touchdown run?

A: It was kind of a two-man route and then they took away both of them so I knew it was

man coverage and just kind of felt a lane and just ran.

 

Q: Will you ask for more carries in the future?

A: Yeah, apparently this was the first rushing touchdown against the 49ers. Happened to be

me.