Vikings Postgame Quotes (Week Thirteen)
Head Coach Kevin O’Connell
Proud of our team. I’m proud of the way they once again — although on a day where we knew we were playing a really good football team, a team over there that’s so well-coached, they’ve got a lot of really good players, played hard and schematically did a lot of things to make life hard on us, our guys in that locker room just continue to band together, and when we have to make a play, our guys found a way to complement each side, and get another great punt there late by Ryan Wright and then find a way to get that thing turned over and win another game here at U.S. Bank Stadium. Cannot say enough about our home fans. This atmosphere, this crowd, they will us to some of these victories, and I hope they know and our fans know how important they are for us. We’re going to try to win every single one of our opportunities and see how many of these opportunities in the postseason, hopefully if we’re able to qualify and get in, that we can give our fans a chance to continue to do their thing. But just proud of our team. A ton of things that I could do better, players and coaches. There’s a lot for us to go back and take a look at and continue our quest to play our best football here as December gets rolling and on hopefully into January.
This is the second straight game where you’ve had kind of a situation where you’ve elected to run it to make the opponent use their time-outs. Is there any consideration there of just trying to throw the ball and get that 1st down?
Yeah, I think there was more to consider than just trying to get them to use their time-outs. I thought their front was a really good front coming in, and I think when you’ve got your heels in the paint of your own end zone, you just ultimately — we had done such a good job at having played a pretty clean game as far as winning the penalty battle, being plus two turnovers. Our defense although we gave up a lot of yards, they were very, very good again on 3rd down. I think they held them to 19 percent, 1 of 6 in the red zone, and then on the flipside, although it was at times a struggle for us offensively, 50 percent on 3rd down and 3 of 3 in the red zone. At that point it’s really one of those things where risk-reward, if we felt like there was a real opportunity maybe to push the ball downfield from your own end zone, by all means I would go for it. I just wanted to make sure — I thought we had some chances there. We had some hat-on-a-hat type of runs, especially that last toss. We just couldn’t quite get everybody covered up to maybe get it out, and one 1st down, get that clock rolling, and maybe we can put it away. I had confidence in our defense like they’ve done multiple times this year, finding a way to get that stop, get that ball stopped and not in the end zone, and we were taking a knee again here at U.S. Bank.
Why the lull in the offense which extended throughout the third quarter?
Yeah, I think we didn’t — I was hoping to get off to a little bit better start there in the third quarter, and then whether it was our second drive there, I did think we had a couple opportunities play pass wise, we had T.J. (Hockenson) down the field one time for a chance at an explosive, and then Justin (Jefferson) kind of crossing the field there. We just couldn’t convert those plays, and whether it’s Kirk (Cousins) throwing to T.J. Hockenson or Justin Jefferson in those looks, we felt great about the looks. I felt the line held up in those moments, and I expect those guys to make those plays and they will and they have all season long. Would have helped with that lull, and then just another example of us really not taking advantage of a lead at halftime, and then ultimately coming out and putting somebody away. But give the other side credit; I thought they made some adjustments offensively, and then defensively that’s another really, really good front, really good defense. Our guys kind of just continued to battle, and we did not want to make that one mistake. We did not want to make a critical error that would allow them to completely grasp the momentum in the game, but ultimately you’re exactly right, we would love to avoid that third quarter lull and that’s something I’ve got to take a long look at, look inward and try to be better for our guys.
With all the wins in close games, do you think you’re seeing a carryover effect?
Yeah, I just think our guys expect to find a way, and I think the situational success on 3rd down and red zone, players can feel that. Although we feel like at times maybe defensively we’re giving up some chunks yardage wise or offensively we just can’t punch through like we did on that touchdown drive in the fourth quarter, that was just execution. Execution by our guys offensively, and then at the end of the game there defensively execution, being at their best when we need them to be. That’s kind of been the theme for us this year. I still think it is within us to be a little bit more consistent, coach a little bit more consistent. But as I told our team afterwards, 10 wins in this league through 12 opportunities, I think they’ve earned the right to feel confident, but I do think we’ve got to continue to prepare like every single week is the most important game of our season because that’s what we’ve done. I give our players a ton of credit, our leadership a ton of credit for that, and as we move forward here, we’re going to continue to be tested, and we’re going to have to earn the right to go into these games with confidence. This 10-2 record means absolutely nothing. We’ve got to go prepare, get better, and play our best here towards the end of the season.
Do you think the guys play just a little bit cautious with a lead?
No, I don’t. I think you’ve got to give some teams credit schematically for kind of finding some things, and then offensively when we do have a lead, we want to run the football. We want to try to control the clock and still be aggressive when we can. That’s where I think those play action opportunities would have been big for us, but in the end maintaining position and relying on all three phases of our football team were really what helped in addition to playing a clean game, no turnovers and winning the penalty battle.
Given that you are winning games and your defense is making big plays in the fourth quarter, how much do you care about how much yardage you’re giving up defensively?
I think you have to continue to look at it just because it just puts a lot of pressure on your football team and vice versa on the offensive side, trying to avoid times where we get a little stagnant and don’t earn 1st downs, to stay on the field and maybe allow our defense to rest a little bit more. Time of possession was pretty close, 31-28, but it feels like offensively we could have done a better job in those moments to maintain kind of the ability to maintain that momentum, which then might have just made it a little bit easier for our team to not need it to come together in the end the way it did. But you make — I think the confidence level of winning football games cannot be — it can’t be replicated by, hey, we lost one but we played great. I think we’ll always take coming in there and feeling the enthusiasm of a win over everything else.
What did you observe on the Mike White touchdown that was reversed?
Yeah, I think I could see why it needed to be reviewed. Good challenge there by Robert (Saleh) coming down — it was hard to see, we had so many purple hats around the ball, I think it was just hard for that official coming down the line to see maybe where the football was in comparison to breaking the plane. Obviously when they were able to — once the challenge happened and see that he did make it in there, it looked like his body was in there regardless if you could see the football. It was a good attempt by our guys to obviously somebody trying to quarterback sneak you and they end up out there darn near the numbers trying to punch it in. At least the interior guys did their job, and then we rallied, and it’s a game of inches at that point, especially to your point about the yards when you’re allowing yourself to have to have goal-line stands in those moments.
When you guys have had this many high-leverage stats, especially on defense, what does that do for a group to have had this many reps as you go into the playoffs here in the next couple of weeks?
Yeah, I do feel like we’re going to be able to rely on a lot of these experiences, how we’ve won games, whether it be earlier in the season when offensively going down to win later on in the games, finding ways situationally to try to manipulate the clock, our players being completely on board with how we’re trying to do things, and whether it’s us and how we use our timeouts, to try to maybe use — make the other side use theirs so then the clock can really be in our favor, all of those things are situational football. We strive really, really hard every single week to teach our players so that when those moments come around, we can find ways to have advantages and be at our best in those moments. But like we’ve talked about, we’ve got some experience and the guys can rely on that, but let’s go continue to try to strive to be the best possible team we can be for this season.
Does Akayleb Evans have a concussion?
Yeah, he’s in the protocol. At one point he was evaluated and cleared by the independent and by our sideline, and then as the game kind of went on, you always keep an eye on those players, especially guys that have had some things come up, and he started to have some symptoms and reported them. We’ll take a look at where he’s at, but we immediately got him back out of the game, and we’ll keep an eye on him, absolutely.
Is that the only injury?
I think Jonathan Bullard had a right bicep, and at that point he was questionable. There was a chance he would maybe come back in, but that did indeed end his day.
What does it say about Kirk Cousins, his accuracy was off during the game but to put that drive together?
Yeah, I thought it was huge. There’s going to be days like that. He’s incredibly accurate. I’ve always just marveled at his ability to be accurate with the football from an NFL pocket when teams have really good interior rush and then some good edge players, as well. We were doing some things to try to help give him as much time as possible when we were going to try to push the ball down the field, and it was just one of those days where maybe, whether it was a double move go ball to Justin (Jefferson) and we just end up being right off his fingertips there as he went to the ground in the first half, or like I said, those two opportunities there in the second half, but then what does he do, he comes back and stacks four, five, six really good plays together, puts pressure on the defense, and then when we had to have it, that 3rd and goal from the 10, to find Justin (Jefferson) the way he did, I mean, that’s a far hash full-field throw for a toe tap over on that right side. That’s how you win football games in this league. We don’t win this game unless we get that seven points right there, so give Kirk a ton of credit. He broke down the team after the game, and I believe he said something along the lines of, “tough times don’t last, tough people do”. He probably said it a heck of a lot cleaner than I just did, and I think that message means a lot for our team because what that means is we found a way in the end. We knew it was going to be that kind of game against this team, to get 27 on the board against them and then to get that stop in the end, it was good enough to win, but there’s a lot that we’ll go back on and coach very hard, and the best part is our players will be in first thing tomorrow ready to get back to work knowing what kind of challenge we have this week going into Detroit.
I’m sure you don’t want to see Kirk taking those hits, but what does that mean for a team when you see the quarterback sacrificing his body?
Yeah, there’s been countless examples around the league of — they get protection when they run, but if it’s 3rd and 8, 3rd and 10, 3rd and whatever, Kirk knows — he’s such a competitor, he’s going to go try to get those yards to stay on the field. I think it did kind of give us a little bit of juice in that moment to flip the situation in a 3rd and longer type situation and go get those yards. I would love to see him be able to get it and get down, as valuable as he is for us. But I think his toughness and his durability over a long period of time really speaks for itself, but as the play caller and head coach, I definitely want to take care of him as much as we possibly can.
A lot of guys in there talked about their own feelings of calm in the red zone defensively. What did you feel in those situations where it’s that stressful?
I feel confidence in our guys to execute the call, to continue to communicate at a high level, and when the field shrinks, it’s about execution, and it’s about tightening up and finding a way to just be a little bit better. Every blade of grass matters down there. Every time you can put your foot in the ground and make a break, every time we can get pressure on the quarterback, force him off the spot, it all works together. No greater moments than I think in that red zone, and it’s a great point. And then offensively on the other side, to be three of three (in the red zone), to get down there on a day where we weren’t going to get down there every time we touched it, we knew that, but to get down there and come away with three touchdowns, two runs, and that huge one by Kirk to Justin just speaks to our guys’ level of execution, being able to finish, finish drives, stop drives, and then ultimately finish the game to find a way to get our tenth win.
Hard-fought game, great to get a win, great atmosphere here at home, great crowd, which I think made a major difference, especially down the stretch. I felt we had a lot of productive runs today, which made a difference against a good defense. I thought our receivers made plays throughout the game, and being 50 percent on 3rd down, I think, helped, and we had some long drives. Just at times just spent too much time on the sideline of our own doing, three-and-outs, and third and fourth quarter just not sustaining drives enough to score points and give our defense a break and kind of keep the ball in our hands. There’s a lot that we need to improve upon, but great to get a win at home, and we’ll just keep working from here.
How do you battle through when you don’t have your best? You seemed to battle through and get it at the end.
Yeah, you just take one play at a time, and you know the next play it can turn and the next play can go a different way, so you just keep playing and believe that it can turn. It obviously helps when you have the defense making stops and your teammates making plays for you time and again.
Coach just said you talked to the team after the game, said something about tough teams persevere or what exactly did you say?
Yeah, it’s just a mantra I’ve kind of lived by my whole pro football career that started with Mike Shanahan. He would always say, “Tough times don’t last; tough people do.” I think I may have said it here before with you guys, but I believe strongly in that. In this pro football journey, you just have to live that again and again. Tough times don’t last, tough people do. I felt like this game in a way was a little bit of a microcosm of that.
You took a lot of hits today and your durability is pretty obvious. Do you know why you’ve been able to be this durable?
I don’t have a great answer for that. I don’t have a great answer why we’re finding these inches in all these games, but we are. I do know a lot of people are praying for protection and have been for my entire career, and I think those prayers have been answered. I think that I spend of lot of time working with different body work people here in the Twin Cities on a weekly basis, sometimes a daily basis. I think just having a lot of prayers and a lot of good people working on you, working with you to put you back together after each game — that what I ask them to do. I say, “Hey, I’m in a car accident every week, and you’ve got to put me back together on Monday and on Friday,” and it’s kind of like getting an oil change. You go back and you get put back together and then you get ready for the next car accident. That’s sort of how it’s been, and I’ve got some great people, a great team that helps.
(Indiscernible) coming through in clutch situations at this stage of your career?
I don’t know, I think every game is its own entity, and I felt today our defense was really what came through for us, keeping them out of the end zone there twice, not to mention the other times throughout the game. Anytime you do make a play, it’s never yourself. It’s always teammates, protection, a great call by Kevin, by our staff, great play design. When we have had success in those moments in the fourth quarter, I think it’s more a reflection of the whole product than just the quarterback.
The touchdown throw to Justin Jefferson, what was the key to making that play work?
I just kind of clicked through the progression, T.J., K.J. — I think I probably had K.J. and could have pulled the trigger to him, to Adam, and then saying no to all them, J.J. had the right leverage with the DB inside, and then just tried to put that ball out to the sideline for him. It’s a route that he’s had a lot of success with going back to training camp, and it was great to hit that one. We’ve been looking for that one for a while and couldn’t get it, and it was great to hit it.
What does it say about the offense where you’re having trouble sustaining anything in that half to put that drive together?
I think it was what we needed. That’s where you believe that, “Hey, the next possession, the next play, anything can happen, anything can turn, so just stay going.” Coaches did a great job that entire drive of just kind of applying pressure to the defense and putting us in a position to be successful. It was great to have that drive, just you walk away saying, “Gosh, could we have had two or three more of those instead of just that one in the fourth quarter?”
How much do you feel like the defense’s situational success is a byproduct of how smart some of those guys are and the experience on that side?
Yeah, I do think it goes back to you get what you emphasize, and whether it’s the situational masters meeting every Friday that it’s being coached again and again, I just think that it’s been emphasized quite a bit, and I do think we have smart players, players that are real pros and take it with a lot of discipline and detail, and I think it does show up in those moments.
What’s going through your mind when you’re watching the end of that game, like do you just believe that they’re going to find a way because they have so many times this year?
I’d say so. You’ve got a belief. I also think my mind is going to — you have to negatively think, “Okay, when they score, if they score, what are we doing?” Similar to Buffalo when we got the — our defense got the touchdown for us on the fumbled sneak, I’m thinking about, “All right, they’re going to go down, kick a field goal, send us to overtime. I’ve got to get my mind ready for that.” It’s obviously the negative way to think, but it’s your best way to then play well when the ball gets to you next. You try to always think about what’s the scenario where we get the ball back and we’ve got to do something with it, and then when they get the stop, that’s obviously a bonus.
During the first half when you lower your head (indiscernible) do you just think, I’ve got to make a play here?
Yeah, I didn’t know where the line was quite to gain, and so I just felt I’ve got to get every yard I can, and so tried to make sure I gave it everything I had. I don’t know if I was already past it or not, but I don’t know if I was, but that was my mindset was, “Let’s get everything we can here.” I’m not sure where it is.
What did you think of meeting Little Kirk?
Yeah, he was awesome. I felt badly that he was having to be shirtless and had the chains all game long. I said to him pregame, I said, “Buddy, if those things get — I’ve worn them, they get heavy. If those get heavy, you get a little cold, feel free to put a shirt on and take the chains off. You’ve done so much.” But sure enough, in the fourth quarter, there he was. It was fun. They drove three hours. It says a lot about our fan base and the passion they have for this team. It’s certainly a Minnesota thing, but they’re coming from Iowa and you’ve got the Dakotas and it’s special to have this entire region of the country pulling for the Vikings.
You mentioned a car accident earlier. I don’t know if there’s degrees of car accidents but was this one a particularly rough one?
There were hits, but I actually was — you check yourself after each one, and I was good, I was clean. This one will be good, but it was more that their rush made it uncomfortable in the pocket, so even if they’re not hitting you, you feel like they’re affecting your accuracy, they’re affecting your timing, and so I think it was more the timing and things like that than even the hits.
On some of those ones that sailed on you, did you feel on most of those like it’s the rush affecting you?
No, I think the one to T.J. was the most egregious miss. That was just a miss. Gave it too much. There were a couple my feet were ahead of the play, so I’m hitching and my feet are telling me to release it, but the play hasn’t really developed yet, and so some of that’s press coverage that slows down the route. They’ve got to negotiate the route. They’re not running it on air, so the timing was something that I needed to go back and watch and make sure that I’m slowing down my drop, if that makes sense, to make sure I’m not ahead of the read or ahead of the play. That’s part of it.
How long do you get to get a receiver downfield as opposed to a quick check down?
Yeah, it really just comes down to the coverage and the need to progress. Pocket has to hold up, and I do pride myself — for me to play in this league and have success, I have to be able to get through progressions and identify coverage and move quickly. That’s the way I’m going to beat people. It’s going to be that way. That’s going to be part of my calling card is getting through reads and progressions and trying to do that at an elite level and trying to separate myself that way.
Will it be extra special for you to clinch the division in Michigan?
I think anytime you can play in a t-shirt and hat game and get the job done, that’s what’s special. I always enjoy going back to the state where I grew up and seeing people in green and white and that kind of a thing. We’ve got a big challenge, and I think the Lions are a really good football team and they’re showing that, so that’ll be a tough environment and big challenge for us.
I know a lot about you guys on defense were saying they were feeding off you. They don’t want you to get hit, but to hear your defense saying they were feeding off your energy?
Yeah, those guys are great. They’re great teammates. They’ve been so supportive of me. I think they do love it. As I said when we ran for that touchdown against Arizona, the o-line loves it. You’ve certainly got to be smart. You want to be there for your team the weeks ahead, so you’re not trying to lower your shoulder all the time, but yeah, certainly be smart and pop back up and keep making plays. I think that’s a part of playing the position and part of being a pro quarterback.
Would you like to talk about the flag?
Yeah, My Cause My Cleats is going to all the workers out in the Philippines working with the typhoon victims with ‘Keys to Freedom Ministries’. I don’t know if you guys can see the cleats, it’s going to all things Philippines. I’m half Filipino, so I rep my roots heavy. We do a lot of work in the Philippines trying to raise a cause and raise awareness. That’s what I’m supporting.
What does it mean to you to make the play?
Everything. Representation. All thanks to God, first and foremost, but just being able to put my flag on the map and hopefully get some more eyes to see what we’re doing in the Philippines to raise money there.
Take me through that play.
It’s a blur right now, I have to go back and watch the film, but I know they’re running double end cuts all game that got us a few times on that last series. Mainly all the big plays are end breaking plays, so I knew if I show inside a little as soon as the quarterbacks eyes come to #2, run that D. Thank God for coming up with it.
Walk us through the mentality of the team at the point when you have to stop them again.
That’s what we live for, every single week, knowing that this game might come down to us and that’s how we want it. The big moments in the fourth quarter, it wasn’t easy; the odds were stacked against us. They’re in the red zone a bunch of times, almost got that fourth down stop. They scored where we were like, “Let’s go again.” We want the game to be in our hands and we know we’re going to close the game.
Harrison [Smith] almost had one before that, what was it like to see his game today?
He went crazy. That’s what we expect out of a Hall of Famer like him. Him being able to do that, drop the pick on that last series, but the next ball doesn’t lie. We were able to get off the field with a win.
You had an interception that didn’t happen, you collided with Akayleb [Evans], what was it like to get the one you did get after the one you didn’t?
That was frustrating because I know if I wasn’t so greedy, he would’ve made the pick, and same thing with him, I may have come down with it. At the end of the day, you have to keep chopping wood and knowing that we didn’t get the opportunity there, I didn’t, Akayleb didn’t, but we knew sometime in the game we were going to come down with one.
How much do you feel like all the reps you have had in those late game situations have prepared you guys in these situations?
In the fourth quarter, it feels normal. It feels like any other play. I know pressure is on us, we’re in the redzone, fourth down, one play to lose the game or win the game. To us, that’s normal football to us.
What is the key to making those stops in the redzone?
Keep focusing. It’s a long series where big plays might have crushed your spirit, but we don’t stop fighting.
Any concerns in regard to the Jets yardage in the second half?
We never want to give up yards like that but as long as we’re coming down with the win. There’s a lot of intricacies with the small little details of maybe one guy getting out of their assignment, so we just have to play clean ball and get off the field. I know a lot of guys who gave up those yards. Other than the three points, which is a win for us, but at the end of the day we don’t want to give up that many yards.
Some defenses would be exhausted after that many, but you guys seem to pick up intensity. It’s like a weird switch that gets flipped for you, isn’t it?
It is, but we practice like crazy. Everybody is running the ball and getting in shape because we know that sometimes the game is going to come down to our hands. We may be on the field for a long time, but at the end of the day, we know that if we have to win the game for us, then we’re going to do it.
Was it the soul train line?
Yeah, soul train line, we didn’t get anyone else behind me. I don’t know why nobody else went but I guess I got to steal the show, so I had fun doing it.
You got a little bit of luck in Buffalo, and saw it again here.
Yeah, that’s football. We can’t be perfect; they can’t be perfect. You just have to capitalize when your opportunity shows. We had opportunities to win the game a little better than we did, but at the end of the day, we know that you have to keep going. Buffalo, we had to keep going, same thing Pat [Peterson] came up with the game winner. Same exact route, double digs, and he picked that off. Now it’s my turn. Football is going to be football.
On Kirk Cousins getting hit a few times…
Kirk is a dog. Get him a few more chains because he’s going to continue to be a dog. He puts the chains on. He has that mentality. He’s going to win the game.
How hard to repeatedly have goal line after goal line stands like that knowing the game is still in balance?
How hard is it? We don’t think about that. We play the next play. The next play is the same as next and I think that’s what makes this team special. It doesn’t matter about the situation. We are just out there playing defense and as the cliché goes, as long as there’s a blade of grass to defend then we do it. That’s the mentality of this defense.
What is it about this defense that despite the intensity there is still is someone making that play?
We talk about it all the time as being the closers as a team. We work on situations since OTAs. When plays need to be made, everybody has the confidence that we are going to make the play and if it comes to them they will make it.
Is the experience of being backed up on the goal line so many times makes it so it is not that intense for you guys?
No, it’s the mentality of this defense one-hundred percent.
Were you surprised on that touchdown when things switched to the corner that they had four on you instead of one?
I didn’t really pay attention until I motioned over. I didn’t see four over there. I don’t know why exactly they did that at that time, but I mean we are going to keep taking advantage of the matchups. That was a good ball by Kirk [Cousins].
Describe what you did at the top of that route, because he’s over there in the locker room saying you ran like eight different routes at the top.
I’m glad he said that. That’s what I want him to think. Just mirroring everything to make it look the same. At the top of the route, I kind of have a double up and hitting back to the outside. Kind of just waddle him to sleep a little bit on that play and it was a good spot by Kirk.
What part of you, if any, says that ‘we need to put these guys away earlier’?
For sure. That first half we came out striking. We had a great first half, we came out doing what we needed to do. Putting points on the board. We just need to have a better second half. Having that same energy, that same juice that we had the first half.
What do you appreciate about the Jets defense?
They’re a good defense. We knew that coming into the game. We knew that front D-line was tough. We knew Kirk was going to be pressured a little bit. I feel like we did good throughout the whole game just getting the ball to playmakers and just letting us rock.
Did you feel it was going to be one of those games where they hit you extra hard?
My best attribute is route running, so whenever I get those man to man, I know I’m going to win. Whenever they are holding and stuff like that, I try my best to make it known and still try to go out there to catch the ball. We like the matchups, that 1-on-1, and we just want to keep eating on that.
On the dropped ball..
I hate it. It’s going to haunt me tonight thinking about it and watching it. I’m human and it happens sometimes, but it’s definitely something I wish I had back.
How physical is their defense?
Very good. Like I said, we knew that coming into the game. We knew we were going to have to make some plays down the field and in the run game. Four [Dalvin Cook] and the o-line did a great job on their side getting yards and four doing four things.
The way Kirk [Cousins] was in the pocket today and taking those hits while finding you, how important is that to have in a tight game like this?
It’s all about the trust. Kirk had the trust to stay in that pocket and launch me the ball. Me having that confidence and seeing a defender coming to hit me and still making that grab. It’s something that we both work on. We just have to keep eating on those, keep having that connection and building off that.
How proud are you of the defense today?
They were in some tough situations. Even that last drive when they were about to score, just time and time again the defense comes big for us. Even when we’re not doing what we have to on the offensive side. We’re working with each other both ways. We have each other’s back.
Before that last touchdown drive, was there something you guys said in that moment that made everything click?
It was a tough situation, we didn’t really get any points for a little while. Putting the defense in tough situations. We just needed some points to gain the lead. It’s a tough team that we’re playing. Phenomenal job on both sides playing the game and we just came out with a dub today.
When you’re on the bench, I see you kind of rocking back and forth, what are you doing there?
Man, why you watching me, man? I always did that since I was a little kid, I guess you could say it’s a habit. I guess I can put it out there, my mam used to rock me when I was a little kid, so it’s comforting. I just do it whenever I’m sitting there. I guess it’s just a habit.
Does the defense’s energy help the offense get pumped up?
It definitely gets us pumped up. Just having those tough spots first. Being in the game down by five, getting those types of spots are big for us. That changes the whole game. It puts us in the best situations. We count on them just like they count on us. We just have to do a better job putting them in better situations, not having to get that fourth down stop.
Are you more confident in the 4th quarter than you have been before?
We have ultimate confidence. We are sitting here with 10 wins and that’s very hard to do. We are happy. We are confident, but at the end of the day it’s crazy because we always talk amongst ourselves about how much we have to improve and how much better we could be. We’re happy we are getting these wins, but at the same time we are still wanting some more. I’m excited to see where we go. The great teams start playing even better in these next couple weeks, and I think we are on our way.
What is it about this defense the way you just keep coming up with those key big plays when you have to?
You just hang tight. You know what they give you and you just have that mentality when you get down there in the red zone. Today, we definitely had that mentality. We did a great job in the first half limiting their explosives. Second half we kind of gave up some big ones that put us in bad situations, but we held tight. We kept them out a couple of times. We had a turnover on fourth down. We had one that was overturned that was really close, but things like that happen. Overall, I am just really proud of my guys. We battled. We are always in it. We are always fighting and clawing. It’s going to come in handy for us these next couple weeks going into the postseason. We still have a lot of work to do and I’m just excited to finish out this season.
Any part of you say that we can’t keep living on the edge like this?
Honestly if we can win, I don’t give a damn, even though we want to bury them and close it out when we can, but these teams are really good. They have players that they play too. We have 10 wins. Everybody is gunning for us and knows that we are a target, so we are getting everybody’s best to the very last second. We got their best today. They fought and hats off to them. They had a bunch of big plays in that second half that really kept them in the game. They are fighters, and we are going to see that often.
What is it like when they get inside that 5-yard line there late? What is the mentality like and what does it feel like?
Confident. We had been down there a few times, even going back however many weeks ago to the first game of the year. We established that part of the defense in the red zone. Not letting teams run the ball in there when it gets down low. We almost had another one there too that they ended up rolling in just by the inches. I don’t know what were they in the red zone, one for six? I think that was probably the difference-maker in the game.
What does it say about you guys that you are 9-0 this season in one-score games?
I would just say grit. I think we have built a very tough team, a team that is a veteran, good leadership team. There are a lot of old heads on the team that have brought the young guys along so well that we just have confidence in one another to get the game when it is on the line.
How frantic was it, I mean the game was on the line twice. We usually have one crazy ending but it was like we had two crazy endings.
I mean with this team there is not much surprise. It is almost as expected as it comes. I am surprised there were not three of them. They are exciting games for sure and with this season, ticket prices for next season must be going through the roof.
What was it like game planning for the Jets this week?
Mike White does a good job for them. He gets the ball to his guys and keeps it pretty clean. I thought we played good up front, especially early. Cam made a great play on that pick that I got and made a great play at the end to close it out. We can do a better job in the second half. We limited the touchdowns, which is a positive thing that came back to help us in the end. We can still improve on that.
Take us inside the huddle while it’s inside the 5 yard line. What is that like? Is it a lot about strategy or more about making a play?
It’s all of it. Things happen a little faster down there and it gets pretty fun down there. I don’t know why, but you feel like you are just a kid playing ball when everybody knows there’s only so much grass to play with.
What do fourth quarters feel like? Do they feel any different this year from years past in terms of confidence and finding a way to win?
I don’t really like to compare to the past. I try to learn from it and move on. I think this team just has confidence we are just going to win. Whether it’s offense, defense, or special teams on the field, there is just a confidence that we have. I’m still not sure why or how, but I think it’s starts from the top like KO has said.
Ten wins and none of them have been easy. How do you guys keep on winning?
I think that every week you gain some confidence. You gain confidence that we are going to turn this around and we are going to find a way. We are going to get it going, and we are going to win this game. The more you can gain this confidence, the better. I think we are still far from where we want to be as far as a whole team and putting the whole thing together. But hey, I believe this is only the second time in my ten years, so to be able to get to ten wins is awesome. I am glad we are finding ways to win but excited to get back to work because we got a lot of work to do. We play a really good football team next week, so kind of already trying to flip the script and move on to the next week because it is going to be a challenge for us.
How much does this year’s success help you on a day like today where the offense is off?
Yeah again, it is that confidence. Every time this happens and you do not play your best football and you find a way to win, you just gain confidence in your team and your brothers. You get closer as a team because you just trust one another. That takes a little weight off your shoulders as far as offense or defense; we don’t have to carry the weight. At the end of the day, we want to play really good football on offense to take some pressure off the defense. You know, that complementary football, when they are not doing great, we got to go score. When we are not doing that great, they make big stops in the red zone and make them kick field goals. Those are game-changing situations, and that’s what this team is all about.
On Alexander Mattison’s touchdown, they brought the safety down right over top of you. What did you think of that play, just had you occupy him somehow?
My job on that play is to block the most dangerous guy. When he is coming down, I am trying to get there in a position to be able to go block him. It was kind of a crazy situation. There was a little bit of movement on the other side because there was a double motion but I am motioning myself. So I had to make sure I got set and it was just kind of chaos but you find a way to get your job done and get a little bit of a crease for these running backs.
Is this an example of it does not always have to be pretty? You did not do a whole lot but you did enough for Alexander Mattison to get by.
I feel like I did quite a bit. At least it felt a lot harder than maybe it looked. I mean at the end of the day I am just a roadblock, right? I am just trying to get in the way and just create a little bit of crease for these guys. It is a tough job when they know you are running the football. They know you are going to block him and it is a one-on-one matchup. You just have to create that little crease. I have lost those matchups during the season, so I am just trying to get better and create more opportunities.