GREEN BAY PACKERS HEAD COACH MIKE McCARTHY
I have one injury report, Alex Green, he had a knee injury and did not return and we will be doing testing in the morning and with that I will take your questions.
Q: It is never easy over here and did Ponder make it tough?
A: It is never easy in the Metrodome; it is never easy playing the Minnesota Vikings. We were appreciative that we won the game, we had to earn it, which is the way it is every week especially when you play this team over here. This is a tough place to play; they had a great surge of energy starting with their opening offensive play. I thought we responded very well and had some opportunities there in the second half. We were able to get field goals off of the turnovers and they fought back, but you know at the end of the day our offense stepped up and finished there in the last four minutes. It is an excellent victory it always means more and we always appreciate it more when it is as hard as it was today. That is what we expect when we come in here, regardless of what has happened leading up to this game, this is always a tough game and we feel good about being 7-0.
Q: Mike what was the key of coming out of the locker room so strong?
A: Just really staying focused on what we needed to do we felt all along that they were going to come out like they always do in the first half. Like I said they jumped on us and we wanted to get back and get the lead and put some points up on the board with the first job in the second half. That is part of the reason why we deferred the coin toss, so we could make sure that we had the ball coming out in the second half, but there are a lot of momentum swings in a football game and it was an excellent football game. I am sure people enjoyed it but once again this is a tough place to play.
Q: In the third quarter you gave Cobb the ball the first carry after he had a rough first half could you talk about the decision to do that and then moments later how he comes back with the punt return?
A: Well Randall is a play maker, he had some opportunities that I know he wish he had back with the punt and obviously with the ball down there in the red zone on third down. It is important especially with younger players in Randall’s case to stay on script so I didn’t waiver from the opportunities that he had on the game plan sheet. He responded well with the return and it was good to get him involved.
Q: How about Starks’ in the run in the last three minutes when you had to close out?
A: We hit a lull there in our phone booth running game; it wasn’t productive there when we needed it. We had a couple down in the red zone for no gains and I thought their defense did a very good job of squeezing the gaps in that particular run category. When it was on the line we went back to it, we stuck to it put the ball in James’ hand and our whole blocking unit did a great job. That is the way you want to finish games and that is something that we can build off of because we hit a little lull there running the football.
Q: Can you talk about Aaron, specifically how you rely on him to make plays even when there are adverse situations?
A: Aaron gives you great confidence as a play caller. He is a great player; he is a special player and that is about as consistent as I can continue to be about the way he is playing and just the way he handles our operation. You never really have to get away from pre-planning categories that you really want to go into the game aggressive, or multiple, or flexible, and that is a great comfort to have as a coach with Aaron Rodgers running this offense.
Q: What happened on that first play of the game with the defensive breakdown?
A: The Vikings came out with a boot to the left, which says a lot about Ponder’s athletic ability, and they hit us on a double move. It was a good throw and catch, executed well and I thought our defense responded after that.
Q: How proud are you of being 7-0 at the bye?
A: We are 7-0 but we just completed the second quarter of our season. Me personally, and I like to think our football team is in tune with that, we are not going to swing from the rope around here as far as the extremes one way or the other. We are very happy to be 7-0 obviously. To our men we know that we can play better and that is what is exciting so we will come in tomorrow and we will make all our corrections from Minnesota and we have a couple other things that we have to get cleaned up and we are going to head into the bye week.
Q: What were your impressions of Ponder (Christian) and his first start?
A: I was very impressed with him. You knew that he was a good athlete and that he could move, just look at his first throw for a touchdown, or down to the 1, but to come out to his left and make a throw on a double move I think that alone says a lot about his ability. I thought he was very composed for this first start. I thought he did a nice job.
Q: How does Charles Woodson do given his age?
A: Charles is tough and a very special football player. He is such a competitor and has a very good understanding of what the offense is trying to do to him. They did a good job moving the quarterback around him, but as far as the constant recognition a real strength of Charles is that he can play an offense with his hand-eye coordination and his ball skills and for us to get his hands on the ball was really big for us in the third quarter.
Q: You have a two game lead in the division over Detroit; do you have any thoughts on that?
A: Not at all, I don’t look at leads or anything. It is seven games into the season, I don’t look at standings, my message to the football team is that until you really get double digit wins all that other conversation is just a waste of time. We are focused on 7-0, two road division games that was a major emphasis for us. That is very important for us and obviously we have one more road division game up there in Detroit. We feel good about where we are and we are excited about where we can go as a team.
PACKERS T BRYAN BULAGA
Q: How do you feel about Aaron Rodger’s play right now?
A: He gets the team in the right situation, the right place, the right checks, and we’re able to execute. He’s doing everything just about perfect right now. I know he’d tell you ‘I have this to correct and that to correct,’ but he’s playing at a very high level.
Q: What was the key to running the ball at the end of the fourth quarter?
A: Just getting a body on a body and being able to move guys off the line of scrimmage and giving James (Starks) one guy to make miss or break a tackle and letting him go. We were able to do that. That’s a situation that any offensive lineman in the League wants to be in, run the ball, run the clock and get first downs to win the game and keep the defense off the field. We’ve been able to do that the last two weeks now and that’s how you win football games.
Q: There seemed to be some pushing and shoving after the play, was it more so than normal or typical for the Vikings and Packers?
A: I think it’s typical. It’s a very familiar opponent, guys go against each other twice a year, and it gets a little chippy, that’s going to happen. It’s a competitive series, they have a good defense and we have a good offense and vice versa, it’s going to get chippy, that’s the nature of it.
Q: Do you sense extra frustration on their part because their season is going the other way?
A: I don’t’ think so. I think they just want to win ball games like any other team in this League. They’re out to win games, just like we are. I don’t think its extra frustration because of their record, they just want to win games.
Q: At 7-0, what’s it going to take to stop this team?
A: At this point, we feel that the only way we can stop ourselves is if we beat ourselves. If we make too many mental errors or give up too many sacks, that’s just from an offensive line standpoint. We’re the ones who can beat ourselves at this point. I think that’s just how confident of a team we are. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of stuff we need to correct, we’ll go back in the film tomorrow and see a lot of stuff to correct but that’s how confident we are in our football team. We’re going to have challenging football games coming up. Going out to San Diego after the bye week, that’s going to be a tough football game; they’re a very good team. But just a matter of us taking care of our business and worrying about us. If we do that we can keep this thing rolling.
Q: Anything said special at halftime, you guys came out and outscored them 20-0 in the third quarter?
A: I don’t think anything special, just Coach McCarthy firing us up like he does almost every halftime. Just lighting a fire and getting us pumped up to go out there after halftime. Coach McCarthy is a great motivator, especially at halftime. In that situation we were down a little bit, not playing the best football, we were able to come in here and light a little fire and go out there and play good football.
Q: Did he yell at all?
A: I don’t think it was any yelling or screaming, just coach being coach.
PACKERS K MASON CROSBY
Q: You didn’t seem to hesitate with that long field goal?
A: With a long field goal like that, I like when we don’t hesitate and just call it up and I’m able to go out there and go through my normal process. We weren’t rushed. Everyone got set and we drilled it home.
Q: First and foremost, you’re perfect on the year.
A: You know, it’s just this team. We have to come out here and perform every game. It’s fun to be a part of. We have a special thing going and I take a lot of responsibility knowing that I have to get points whenever I go out there. It’s been great. We’ve put in so much good work. We seem very detailed, which is making my job a lot easier. I just have to focus on my steps, my line and kick the ball.
Q: How many more career-longs and franchise records can you make in one year?
A: We’ll see. They’re starting to pile up a little bit. That’s never a bad thing. I’ll take them as they come. We set that line at the 40 these last two indoor games and I’ve had the opportunities right around that yard line. As we keep going forward and it gets later in the year, we’ll see what that line is. It’s been fun. We’re a high scoring offense so I know I’m going to get opportunities and I’m going to take advantage of them.
Q: What is it about you guys scoring so many points in the third quarter this year?
A: We see what they give us in the first half and we do a great job regardless with what they throw at us. If they play well, it gives us a chance to adjust in the second half. It’s just a credit to our guys. Our coaches give us a great opportunity to go out there and dominate in the third quarter.
PACKERS TE JERMICHAEL FINLEY
Q: Talk us through your touchdown.
A: I lined up on the right and Rodgers gave me something to the outside. I used my speed and athletic ability to beat the defender.
Q: You’re 7-0 are you thinking about an undefeated season?
A: Not at all. We want to go to the Super Bowl; everyone wants to go to the Super Bowl. We’re taking it game by game and we’re trying to be the best. We’re trying to do something that’s never been done before, be undefeated and win the Super Bowl.
Q: Did you feel like they couldn’t stop you with the injuries they had in the secondary?
A: No, I thought they played well with the injuries they had and all of that. I thought they played pretty good but at the same time, we came out with a win.
Q: Was it a tougher game than you figured it would be?
A: It was a game we knew we would have to play until the end. It’s always like that coming into enemy territory.
Q: I saw you working on the same play you scored on before the game.
A: Oh, you saw me? That paid off in the third quarter. It came to me and I felt good.
Q: The play you scored on seemed like it was dragged out for a while.
A: It was just trying to get open. We needed that one too.
Q: You’re taking it a game at a time but, 7-0, what does that mean?
A: 7-0 is huge. We’re the only team who’s 7-0 in the League and we’ve got to keep it rolling.
Q: How far can this team go?
A: We’ll see that at the end of the season.
Q: That’s something you don’t really want to talk about, isn’t it?
A: No, not really.
PACKERS WR GREG JENNINGS
Q: What was the mentality like going into halftime trailing?
A: We had to get refocused and go out there and put together a drive and we were able to do that.
Q: Did there seem to be any panic at halftime?
A: I don’t think there should be. I don’t think there will ever be panic. We have a lot of talent in this locker room. We all work together and we’re all focused on one goal and that is to get a win week in and week out. There’s really only one thing that would stop us and that’s the guys in this locker room.
Q: Are you surprised Allen just let you go on that touchdown?
A: You can’t put that on him honestly. It was clearly cover 2. The safety bit down. I don’t know if Aaron gave him a pump or what, but you know he was playing a zone. That’s really the safeties’ responsibility.
Q: Aaron pumps, stays alive on his feet and finds you guys in small windows. Does he impress you or is that just what you expect?
A: It’s expected. We know what kind of quarterback he is capable of being and we expect nothing less.
Q: Does it give you a security blanket in a tough place like this knowing that Aaron is capable of getting the job done?
A: Definitely. I think all 46 guys that suit up come in here with the mindset that we know we are coming into a hostile environment. We have the “G” on our helmets for a reason. All 46 guys can play and put forth the best effort possible to get the job done.
Q: Have you ever jogged 45 yards for a touchdown?
A: I don’t know if I have jogged 45, but that was pretty fun.
Q: Do you feel like you guys were kind of unstoppable with Winfield and Cook being out?
A: I don’t go too much into detail with those situations. It really doesn’t matter who’s on the opposing team. We have the mindset that we are going to beat our guy. You have to have some type of confidence in yourself and we feel as a group and as a unit that we can beat our guy in front of us and get the job done.
Q: Did it take you long to get eye contact with Aaron on the long touchdown?
A: It didn’t take me long at all. It’s just a matter of when he rolled out, was he going to go with the quick throw or was he going to look up? He happened to look up and I was just streaking down the field wide open. I really had to take a double take to see if there was a safety back there because it was almost too good to be true.
Q: Are you surprised the game was this close?
A: Not at all. You are never surprised. We are in their environment. Obviously it’s a hostile place to play. They play very well at home. We understood that and we knew that coming in. This is a tough team to beat. They could be 0-14 or 0-15, it doesn’t matter; when they play in this building, they’re going to give you their best shot.
Q: How does it feel being two games up in the division?
A: We feel good, especially going into a bye. We have some guys banged up and guys who aren’t banged up just need some time. We are in a good position. We’re definitely not satisfied. We are going to try and take advantage of where we are.
PACKERS LB CLAY MATTHEWS
Q: What’s it like knowing you haven’t put together a complete game and still be where you’re at, at 7-0?
A: It’s encouraging. I’m sure you guys are getting sick of it but the truth is we haven’t played a complete game. We’ve played some great quarters, we’ve had some great plays, but there’s still room for improvement which I think is encouraging, but at the same time we need to get this going if we want to continue to be undefeated.
Q: What did Charles’ (Woodson) play mean to you overall today?
A: Those two picks, you get the ball back to the offense and they score. It’s always gratifying to see a guy like him, and him especially, to make plays in the manner that he does and how he goes about his business is rewarding, especially for a young guy like myself who looks up to him.
Q: What were your impressions of Christian Ponder today?
A: He made some plays. There’s a good crop of rookie quarterbacks out there we’ve already faced and he’s no different. He made the passes when he needed to, at the same time we took advantage of some of them, but he was able to make some plays and make life difficult for us, but I’m sure we’re going to see him for years to come.
Q: What about Adrian Peterson, where you surprised at what he was able to do today and rush for over 170 yards, you guys haven’t given up that many?
A: Nah, I’m not surprised what he can do, he’s the best back in the League and there’s no doubt about that, there’s no question. We know what we have to do and obviously he broke off a few big runs, but he’s a special athlete and we’ve got to stop him before he gets going and unfortunately that’s we too many yards.
Q: Typical of this rivalry that Minnesota comes in 1-5 and still puts up that kind of fight?
A: Despite being 1-6 they’ve played some good games and unfortunately for them they haven’t been able to finish them off and fortunate for us we were able to get this victory today. They have a good team they just have to put it together. They’ve got a few new pieces but right here right now we’re fortunate to come out of here with a victory.
PACKERS NT B.J. RAJI
Q: What’s it feel like to remain unbeaten?
A: It keeps you motivated and it keeps you humble. It is easy to over look some things when you’re winning but we don’t do that around here. We take it serious and we understand that we’ve got to get better if we want to win everything.
Q: Was it difficult playing against someone (Christian Ponder) you haven’t seen?
A: It’s not so much that we haven’t seen him play; it’s the ability that he presents. He can throw the ball and he can run so when we go against a running quarterback it’s tough. Certain coverages you’ve got to eliminate and you’ve got to do some things to keep a watch out for him.
Q: Ponder was making his first start. From the other side of the ball, were you impressed with what he was able to do?
A: He definitely made some plays; I was impressed. Obviously he’s taking what he’s taking so we knew he had some ability. The way he threw and stayed poised I thought that was impressive.
Q: You guys gave up a little over 8 yards per carry and Adrian (Peterson) ran for over 170, is he just that good?
A: We messed up a little bit, but let’s not kid ourselves, this kid is the best in the league. He’s going to be a hall-of-fame running back in my opinion so if we’re going to give up 175 to anybody, to give it up to him then whatever, we won. That’s all I can say.
PACKERS QB AARON RODGERS
Q: What was the difference in that third quarter, I mean 20 to zip you guys in that quarter?
A: Well we got the ball. You know, first half we had the four possessions, long time in between drives there, big drive there to end the half, to get the points, you know we got to within four and then got the lead there with the first drive in the second half.
Q: Have you ever seen your receivers as open as Jennings was?
A: Yeah a couple. But it’s fun, it was a fun one. It’s tough to throw those, you don’t want to under-throw it, over-throw it, just pump to the left, pump to the middle, ran out to the right a little bit and he put his hand up so those are, I like those gimme ones.
Q: What did you think of Ponder?
A: I think he did a nice job, I think he’s got a bright future, I like the way he plays, he moves around really well. I mean he made some plays with his feet, made some great plays there in the 4th quarter, finding guys on the back side, moving around. I think their offense moved the ball well. Great start to the game for them with that long touchdown, or almost touchdown. And then obviously having Adrian Peterson is a plus for him but I think he did a nice job.
Q: You made some plays with your feet as well, probably required every week, but is it particularly so against these guys and in an environment like this?
A: Yeah I think you always look at when we play in the Metrodome it’s going be loud, they’re gonna get off the ball quick, you got to make some plays with your feet and move around a little bit. And I might have held it a couple times too long today but I think I was also maybe to make a couple of plays, you know, keeping plays alive.
Q: How did you like the final drive, to hand off six consecutive times?
A: Yeah, I’m not crazy about the six consecutive handoffs, but it’s nice to finish out a game like that. We haven’t done that I don’t think since maybe Detroit last year at home, it’s been awhile it feels like where you know you got to run it, it’s a tight game, and be able to do that. James ran the ball great, I mean he had a couple of really good runs, but there was a lot of good blocking in there to spring him. It’s fun to end a game like that.
Q: What does it mean to be 7-0 going into the bye week?
A: It means we get a week off, a week to get healthy. I think some of those guys up front are pretty banged up and you know, Cliffy’s (Clifton) out, obviously some of those guys on defense, you know Clay and Wood I’m sure are a little banged up, so it will be good for all of us to get a week off and then it just gets even more difficult on to San Diego.
Q: How would you analyze your performance today?
A: You know what, I think I was pretty efficient, like I said I maybe held the ball a couple times too long but you know sometimes you got to try and hang in there and make some plays with your feet, threw the ball pretty efficiently, you know. But still I think 3rd downs and red zone are what I’m thinking about tonight. I think we were 1-7 maybe going to the last ones, I don’t know if we finished 2-8 or not but, you know the red zone there with the chance to get us a three-score game which you know, funny enough to say it kind of gets our crowd into the game at that point. We had a great crowd today, it was great hearing the “Go Pack Go” chants, and the crowd was loud there on their last drives. It’s amazing, so we appreciate our fans and it’s nice to be 7-0.
Q: What did Mike say at halftime, and what was the key to triggering the fast start in the 3rd?
A: Yeah, nothing was really said I don’t think, you know there’s not a lot of panic in this team. We’ve been down a couple of times at halftime, just a lot of focus and it’s nice, and I enjoy deferring because you can kind of double up there at the end of the first half and the beginning of the second half we did that again. We had 10 points our last two drives, and you know when you win by six, you’ve got to look at that as a great finish to the first half and start to the second half. Last year we played here, the same thing happened. We drove down, got a two minute touchdown, came out the second half and scored a touchdown and got those 14 points there to go up by 21. Those are big momentum turners for us and glad we got it done today.
Q: Were the Vikings chippier than your typical opponent? It seemed like there was some extracurricular stuff going on.
A: I think you always expect that in a rivalry game. You know this is maybe not as friendly, I hate to say friendly, but as friendly as the Green Bay-Chicago of 2011 rivalry is. There’s a little bit more chippiness out there. Jared got knocked down there on a block and was pretty upset about it. That kind of snowballed into a couple things after the play and that’s kind of part of it, but I think we rose above it pretty good today.
Q: Beyond 7-0 how do you feel this team has played this year so far?
A: I think we’ve played pretty good. It’s tough to win games in this league, it’s tough to win on the road. You know we’re 2-0 in our division now and it’s a good start for us. We got to get healthy now and get ready for a tough stretch here.
Q: Who gives who more confidence, you or your receivers?
A: Well, it’s nice to know that if you put the ball in their area they’re going to come down with it or it’s going to be incomplete. I think the guys made some really nice plays today, nice catches, you know it’s just a comfort level that starts in practice and goes in the off season as well, so a lot of confidence with those guys.
Q: Given that the Vikings were without 3 of their 4 starters in the back field did you guys figure that there was going to be the opportunity to make some plays down field more?
A: Yeah I kind of thought we might throw it a little more actually with (Chris) Cook and (Antoine) Winfield out and them playing some guys who might not get a ton of playing time. Thought we’d maybe throw it a little bit more but the way that the game kind of was flowing in the first half with us not getting a lot of possessions kind of hindered us from having a ton of passing attempts but I think we were pretty efficient throwing it.
Q: How important was your first drive after Minnesota scores a quick touchdown and you guys go 91 yards?
A: Yeah, that was a big one, it was a big one. You know toughest thing about playing in a dome is you get to withstand that first surge. You know their first play of the game was a big time throw and catch and run and they scored a couple plays later, and then we get the ball and we have a penalty, we’re backed up in the shadow of our own goal line, it’s important for us to get a first down at least but to go down and march down and get a touchdown is big for us.
Q: Are there some advantages to playing indoors? You’ve had three straight dome wins, each game you’ve been over 300 yards passing.
A: I like it. I don’t mind it.
Q: How much better can this team get?
A: On the winning side not much, I mean we’ve maxed out our wins so far and our opportunities but I think we can play a little better. But I think you got to understand it’s a division game, it’s a common opponent, it’s a tough environment, it’s a big win for us in the Metrodome, I don’t care what their record is.
Q: You’re not thinking any farther than two weeks are you?
A: I’m thinking about this week, it will be fun, a nice little bye week.
PACKERS CB CHARLES WOODSON
Q: Congratulations on the win today, it was a really big win for the club, but you let the Vikings come back on you.
A: Yeah, but a good win, so we will take it.
Q: What did you think of Christian Ponder?
A: I think they helped him out a little bit today, keeping him outside of the pocket; keeping him on the move and they made some plays for him. He kept some plays alive with his feet, which he is going to do. He did a good job for them.
Q: On your second pick it looked almost like the ball was thrown to you and you turned it up field; you read that one well.
A: I’m very happy about it as well.
Q: You looked like you kind of read his eyes on both those picks.
A: Well I was just getting a feel for the route once the guy comes off the ball. And kind of anticipate where the guy is going to go, then cut up underneath and if the throw is there you are going to pick it. I was able to be in a position to make a couple plays.
Q: Was he locking onto his primary receivers a lot today?
A: I don’t know, we were in man to man, so our back is to the ball so we aren’t able to read the quarterback in that situation. We have to chase our receivers, so there was a lot of man to man.
Q: You picked off Cam Newton twice when you faced a rookie, is there something there is that you used to bait Ponder?
A: No, I guess it was the game plan today. I just tried to be in a position to make plays and I guess I was able to do that. It feels good to help the team move to 7-0 going into the bye week. Tough game, but we understand what this game is about coming here and playing in the Dome. We found ourselves in a dogfight and came out with a big win.
Q: Is Christian easier to read?
A: No, like I said, I was in man to man, it’s not about reading the quarterback. We played about 99% man to man defense today, so it’s just about getting a feel for the receiver once he comes after the ball and try to make a play on it.
Q: Did Ponder show you anything that impressed you; he was making his first NFL start?
A: They helped him out by keeping him outside of the pocket and rolling him to his left and rolling him outside of the pocket. They let him keep plays alive with his feet and he did some good things for them.
Q: Having Adrian Peterson must be a gigantic help for a first year quarterback?
A: Yeah, there is nothing like having a running back like that. He is going to make plays for you, he is going to keep drives alive, and he is going to break tackles. You know, he is the best in the game. He is a load and a hard guy to try and contain out there.
Q: How did things change on the defense without Sam Shields out there for you guys?
A: Really not much for me. You know, Jarret Bush had to come in and play in our nickel situations and I had to play on the inside. It really didn’t change a whole lot for us today.
Q: Do you know when you get picks like that; you’re just getting the ball back to Aaron Rodgers? How big were those plays at that moment?
A: Well, that’s the key. When you are in a game like today which is a tough game, you are in a dogfight; you have to put the ball back in your guy’s hands and allow him to try to build the lead. We came out in that second half and we went right down and scored, and then it was up to us to try to get the ball back, and allow Aaron to do what he does with our offense. I was a good job by everybody.
Q: On some of those close calls in the first half on Ponder’s throws, did you guys feel like it was just a matter of time before you were going to get your hands on one?
A: Yeah, I feel like I really should have had four interceptions today. I wasn’t able to come up with them. I had a couple, which is good, but I feel like every time I am around the ball if I just get a fingertip on it I should catch it. I came up with a couple and we got a good win coming into the bye, so we are happy about that.
Q: What did you think Dom Capers was thinking, keeping you in the slot, versus the Carolina game without Tramon Williams where you played outside.
A: Well at Carolina I matched on Steve Smith all game, where as this game I matched up with whoever stayed inside and that is pretty much what we do. We brought Jarret in, played him on the outside. It’s really what we do as a defense, so we were just able to stick with our plan today.
Q: You said that you were in man coverage, but with rookie quarterbacks do you kind of have a sense of where they might go with the ball?
A: No, you just have to be in position, your back is to the ball and the quarterback a lot so you just try to put yourself in a position and get your head around when you think the ball is coming.
Q: You have won the first 7 games, how does this team compare to other teams you have been on?
A: I have never been 7-0, so I guess you would have to say that this is by far the best team I have been on. It’s a long way to go and it’s going to be a tough season. We know we are going to have more games like today where we are going to have to gut it out at the end and hold onto a lead or come back in the end of the game and get back on top. It’s a good win for us; it’s a tough test going into the bye week. I think this was actually good for us to have this type of game going into the bye week. To understand that we can come back and prepare for the idea that it’s not always going to be easy.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS HEAD COACH LESLIE FRAZIER
Tough loss. I have to give a lot of credit to Green Bay. They did a great job of making plays when they needed to make plays and they showed why they are the defending World Champions but I am proud of the fight our football team, the way Christian (Ponder) came out and played extremely hard along with the rest of our players just battling right down to the end. We came up just a little short but it wasn’t because of lack of heart or desire or not believing we could win. Our guys played to win the game. Green Bay, they were the better team today.
Q: Christian’s final passing line doesn’t look great but he did take chances after throwing the interceptions, how much does that mean?
A: It means a lot. He never got down on himself. He continued to make the plays that needed to be made. He showed a lot of the poise and composure that you need to play with against a very good defense and he made a lot of plays which really gives you some hope for the future.
Q: Describe the energy after that first pass to Michael Jenkins.
A: That really got our sideline jacked up. Our team, our fans, they were really into it and they were into it in the pregame. The noise in pregame was great for our team to really boost us for the start of the game. That play was a big play for our team obviously and really got the energy in the building revved up.
Q: You were short-handed in the secondary today. Did Aaron Rodgers take advantage of that?
A: He’s a great quarterback. He’s putting together an unbelievable year and he’s playing extremely well. You have to give him a lot of credit. He’s really developed over the last few years. He’s a top-flight quarterback.
Q: The decision to punt at the end, did you feel it was too risky for them to get a field goal if you didn’t convert?
A: I thought with the timeouts we had plus the two-minute warning, if we punted the ball, wherever the ball ended up at, if we play good defense and the way our defense was doing a good job of getting us the ball back, I thought we had a chance to get it back for our offense. Unfortunately that didn’t happen.
Q: Do you trust your defense right now?
A: You have to continue to evaluate your team and continue to understand what your defensive weaknesses are. In that situation, I really believed we could go out and stop them from running the football. I don’t know what they had rushing up to that point but there was nothing that they had shown me that they could run the ball as well as they did in that four-minute situation.
Q: They picked up the first down just running the football as opposed to passing it.
A: It’s hard to see that happen when you know how well we’ve played run defense around here for a number of years and it’s something that we really have to address because everything that we talk about from a defensive standpoint starts with stopping the run and that was a chance for us to really come up big and they did a great job of blocking and running the football.
Q: On the Greg Jennings touchdown, did the defender bite and leave the receiver open?
A: The quarterback does a good job of moving around and we talked all week, when he starts moving around, it’s not like it used to be where you run around and run the ball, now he’s looking down the field, he’s keeping his eyes down the field and that’s another part of his maturation. We lost sight of that and the receiver got behind us.
Q: How do you compare the play of Christian earlier in the day to how Donovan McNabb played early in the year?
A: I don’t want to get into contrast and compare, I just know that Christian did a good job for us throughout this game and he just battled and continued to make plays for us right to the very end and I’m just proud of the way he competed and proud of the things he did throughout the day.
Q: Why was Bernard Berrian deactivated?
A: Just a decision that I made that we’ll probably get into later in the week, one of the decisions I made.
Q: Was it disciplinary?
A: No, it was just a decision I made about whether or not he was going to be active or not active.
Q: Do you have any comment on the Chris Cook situation?
A: No, we’ll just have to wait until we learn more about what’s going on with him.
Q: How did that all work with him not being available for the secondary?
A: We had to do a little bit of adjusting. There were some things we had worked on during the week for the multiple receiver sets and so on but our guys responded well. The guys who had to step up did a good job today. We had some plays that they made but they’re going to make some plays but I thought overall they did some good things.
Q: Does Bernard Berrian have a future with this team going forward?
A: It’s something that we’ll talk about this week.
Q: How much of a difference did Christian’s play make?
A: It made a huge difference. His being able to make some plays in the passing game, knowing how people are going to play us going into the game, nine guys in the box just like everybody, he hits a double route that opens up things for the rest of the day and makes those coordinators think twice about going nine men in the box every single down. It’s good. It’s good for our football team, good for Adrian (Peterson).
Q: Do you feel you’ve taken a step forward after coming off of that Chicago loss?
A: That’s exactly right, in our business moral victories don’t get you a whole lot. We expect to play hard and play well every week and we’ve got to keep that standard that we talked about from July 31 on and not have dips along the way. We’ve got a lot of work today, it’s obvious, but we’ll continue to be more consistent and get better.
Q: Did you have to make concessions for Christian being a rookie?
A: Once the decision was made on Monday, I talked to Bill (Musgrave) and the offensive staff that this decision wasn’t made to start grooming him for 2012, it was to win against Green Bay so let’s not pull back and say, ‘Let’s baby feed him until he gets better around Week 11, 12,’ you could see from that first offensive play that Bill and the offensive staff listened so we kept our playbook open. We did go back to some of the things he worked on a lot in training camp and tried to make sure we had some of that in the game but no, we wanted to open it up for him.
Q: He had a tough quarter but seemed to bounce back and make some plays for you.
A: No question. I remember after one of those turnovers he came over to the sideline and I wanted to talk with him and just encourage him and I just sensed that I didn’t need to. I sensed that he was already moving on past that play which is a quality you have to have in our league even if you’re a great quarterback. It was good to see that, good to see him just continue to play and be aggressive.
Q: You are now six games out of first place, what are your teams’ objectives for the rest of the season?
Q: Whoever our next opponent is, we’re going to try and get a win. We’re going to work as hard as we can to get a win and put our focus on whoever our next opponent is.
Q: Did Anthony Herrera hurt the same knee that he hurt last year?
A: Yes, surgical knee. He ended up coming back.
Q: Was it Percy Harvin’s ribs again?
A: Yes, ribs.
Q: What are your plans for Joe Webb and his involvement in the offense?
A: We’re going to keep working in packages for Joe and try to get him in there during different points during the games. Didn’t get him in today but we do have some things available for him that we’ll get to when it’s the right time.
Q: What are some of the things you need to discuss with your staff about Bernard Berrian going forward?
A: Just some general things we need to talk through and be able to handle.
Q: Do you think Percy Harvin will be available next week?
A: I’ll have to wait and see. I’m just not sure where he is other than the fact that he wasn’t able to finish the game today. We’ll learn more probably tomorrow after they take a look again and just see what’s going on.
Q: Was he wearing that protective jacket?
VIKINGS DE JARED ALLEN
It was a game we could’ve won, but we didn’t. Need to find a solution to get it corrected.
Q: Do you have any idea what the solution is?
A: If I knew, I’d fix it, right? Keep playing hard, and hopefully the ball will roll in our direction.
Q: How tough is it to face Rodgers and his offense when you are depleted in the secondary?
A: We have faced Rodgers and that offense for the past four years. They are playing like hell. But there is nothing we haven’t seen and haven’t defended. At times in this game, we did it great. That third quarter, we played pretty well. A couple of big plays, we need to take back and it’s a different game.
Q: Is he as good as any quarterback you have played against?
A: Yeah, he gets the ball out quick. His receivers make great catches. They find ways to get open. Kudos to them.
Q: Did you know at all during the game of the record that you set?
A: No, I go out to win games. We are trying to win games. Six loses. Other than that, keep playing. I can look back at the end of the season.
Q: Can you take any positives away? You played better, there was more enthusiasm.
A: Moral victories are like taking your sister to prom. What’s good for being runner up? You’re just the first loser. We can take positive plays but we are in the business of winning. Winning and losing, that’s all it is. Nobody is going to look back and say, “Oh, they almost won”. That’ll get you nowhere.
VIKINGS LB CHAD GREENWAY
Q: It was such a close game. It was a hard-fought, close game.
A: That’s probably true. On our end, it’s not fun to come off on that side after coming back the way we did. Our offense put a drive together was awesome. To come back and have the opportunity to get the ball we need to get the ball back to them in the four minute drill. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get out of it. At least give them another chance with short time.
Q: There was kind of a lull in the middle of the game with the crowd but towards the end, it was probably as strong as it has been in one of these home games. What’s your response and emotion at the end of the game?
A: It was a good football game. It went down to the wire and for them it was entertainment. It was a great football game to watch. But when we come out on that side of things, it’s not quite as fun.
Q: Were you surprised they ran the ball that well at the end?
A: Yeah, we stopped the run game for the most part throughout the game. But at the end it was disheartening for us. We will have to go back, take a look at it, and see what happened. You can’t play edgy. We need to play to win. Unfortunately it had to end that way.
Q: I know you don’t want to make excuses, but when you’re facing that offense with your secondary backups in there, how much more difficult was it?
A: These guys played awesome. They did a good job of getting off the field when we had to. They kept fighting. Give those guys credit that stepped in.
VIKINGS WR MICHAEL JENKINS
Q: Tell us about the first play?
A: It was just a double move. Coaches drew up taking a shot, first play of the game and you know it was a great ball by Christian. Fortunately got down to the one, unfortunately I should say, but we were able to punch it in and it was a great start for us.
Q: Do you feel like that was a result of them keying on the run to start the game and maybe just biting up on that?
A: We knew we would get some man coverage and you know they’ve got great corners over there and he bit on the double move and I was able to make a play.
Q: How about the touchdown?
A: It was basically just a little post, spread post. Chris (Christian Ponder) threw a great ball and I just made a great break on it.
Q: What did Christian prove to you guys today?
A: He played with a lot of heart. He made plays with his arm and his feet. He kept drives alive and he played great for his first start.
Q: Were you impressed with his composure in the 3rd and 4th quarter?
A: Yeah, I mean he kept shooting and that’s what you have to do in that position. He threw a couple interceptions, but he never waivered and was never seen down and he was always positive.
Q: What was the value for him having that early success on that first drive?
A: It was huge. That definitely, not only gets the crowd into it, but it builds his confidence. It was a big start for us but, we just couldn’t finish it.
Q: Did you guys feel that you had a better passing game today than you had in the past weeks?
A: Ponder was able to make some plays. Got the ball down field a little bit, took some shots, and Adrian was still able to have a good game. It was a good balance.
VIKINGS RB ADRIAN PETERSON
Q: How are you feeling after your injury toward the end of the game?
A: I twisted my ankle a little bit, but the training staff took care of me and I am feeling fine.
Q: How do you feel with the way Christian Ponder played today and the possibility that you may have a quarterback for future games down the road?
A: There are definitely a lot of positives that you can take from his performance today. He stepped in and did an incredible job, which made for great energy out there for the offense and defense, creating a good atmosphere.
Q: How frustrating is this loss for you, considering your great performance?
A: It is definitely frustrating; we came out against the defending champions and made it a close game. I give credit to those guys who made the tough plays when they needed to, we just ended up on the wrong side of it today.
Q: How did you feel about Christian Ponder’s making your job a little lighter of a load today with his opening pass of over 70 yards?
A: It felt good and gave us great starting momentum on offense, as well as giving the crowd great momentum. Unfortunately on the pass he didn’t get in, but we were able to finish it up and punch it in.
Q: What do plays like Christian Ponder’s opening pass do for you?
A: It definitely does a lot when we are talking about the running game. Guys have to play even and stay true by honoring the pass game also. Today was a good example; the guys turned around with passing but stacked the box and focused on the run, which made for a balanced offense.
Q: Was there a noticeable difference for you as you guys took more shots down the field?
A: Yeah, there was a definite difference. The line played tough and very physical today which opened up the field. That’s what you like to see are those guys showing respect; it was definitely very noticeable.
Q: What did you think about the play of your offensive line today?
A: I think those guys stood up today. They played very aggressive and they stayed true. They did a great job opening up lanes for us in the running game and protecting (Ponder).
Q: How do you feel about guys who come and fill in, in particularly Joe Berger?
A: I give thumbs up to those guys; they came in focused, did their job and did it well.
Q: What kind of poise did Christian Ponder have in the huddles today?
A: He took charge with confidence. He never seemed rattled just very comfortable, which is something I am very excited about. He bounced back from the two interceptions and continued to go strong against them, which says a lot about him as a leader.
VIKINGS QB CHRISTIAN PONDER
First start in the books, like I said I knew going into this thing it was going to be a great experience for me, a great opportunity. What a great atmosphere it was today and the whole team played really well, I’m really proud of the whole team. We played ‘til the fourth quarter, we never gave up. We knew it was going to be a tough game and we stayed in it. I made some mistakes personally, that were crucial and that put this loss on me. The players around me played extremely well and kept me in it. I’m really proud of the guys around me, I’m very fortunate to have such great teammates.
Q: The third quarter was a rough one, how did you stay in there?
A: I knew this was going to be a four quarter game and if I go into the tank then you might as well chalk it up as a loss. As a quarterback, you’ve gotta have a short memory. Those are learning experiences we’ve got to go through, and go back in tomorrow and watch film and go through it. My teammates helped pick me up and kept me in the game. They did a great job of making plays and moving on.
Q: How sure were you that you were going to get the ball back in the end?
A: I didn’t know. The defense was playing well all game and we thought we were going to get the ball back, but that stuff happens and you have to make decisions one way or another.
Q: You had two interceptions, Woodson made a good play on the first one to undercut, the second one was a corner route?
A: He undercut both of them. The first one I kind of stared it down and I should have just thrown the ball away and then the last one he undercut it again. It was a deep crossing route, watching film over the week I saw him do it and I should have picked that up and threw the ball over his head. Again, a learning experience that I have to learn from.
Q: In your first game you threw two picks and you kept coming back in the fourth quarter with deep throws. How do you go about wiping the slate clean?
A: That’s what I’ve learned as a quarterback. I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again. You have to put those mistakes behind you. Especially when you’re playing a team like Green Bay, they’re going to make those plays. It’s my job to limit those plays but at some point they’re going to get you.
Q: When you had a rough stretch, was it you?
A: It was just me. I made some poor throws, some poor decisions. It was definitely on me. They weren’t doing anything crazy. We knew exactly what they were going to do and they did what we thought. It was all on my shoulders.
Q: Do you have a certain rapport with Jenkins?
A: No, I mean obviously he has a great history. He’s a great receiver. First round pick from Ohio State, all of those years in Coach Musgrave’s system in Atlanta. I knew he was a good receiver and he goes out and makes plays.
Q: There was some excitement around that first play, how did it feel to have to do it again?
A: It was a decent play to open up a game with. Jenkins was so wide open that I put a little too much air on it and the guys were able to get him from behind. Fortunately we were able to capitalize and score anyway.
Q: Did you actually call for that deep ball or was it a read?
A: No, that was a deep ball. We knew going into it that we were going to double move them. Green Bay has an aggressive defense, so we tried for that first play to double move them and take that shot.
Q: How much were you impacted when you found out that Bernard had been deactivated?
A: It didn’t impact anything. It had happened before and Devin stepped in and played really well and he did this game. We had some other guys step up; obviously Percy has been hurt and is battling through some things and Greg came in and had a great game as well. The guys that were on the field played really well and they didn’t change anything that we were doing.
Q: How would you rate your performance overall?
A: Obviously, the ultimate deciding factor is whether you get the win or not. Obviously we didn’t get the win and the loss is on my shoulders so I’m not happy about it. I did some okay things; I did some bad things and I just have to learn from it.
Q: What did Donovan McNabb say to you after that second interception?
A: He was just telling me to let it go. That it’s going to happen and he’s been there before. There will always be ups and downs in the season, and to just put it behind me and move on, and that’s what I’m doing.
Q: How do you think you did under all of the pressure that was on you?
A: I thought I did pretty well. I spent a lot of time preparing this week and so did the rest of the team. It’s a lot easier when you have good offensive linemen and great backs to pick up the sting. There wasn’t a lot of pressure that was on my end.
Q: What are you thinking about the fact that now you have four quarters of game experience?
A: I think it’s good, just getting that four quarter experience under the belt. Obviously I had a lull there in that third quarter that I have to learn from and not let happen again, but the more experience the better.
Q: Can you recall what you were thinking after that first pass?
A: The first play? I was just excited to complete the first ball and think it was a touchdown. It was a great play by him. We have a ton of great guys on this team. One for one for a touchdown was excited, but at least two for two for a touchdown was good enough.
Q: Did your dad or anyone come up for your first game?
A: My dad came up and then I had a couple of buddies come up from Florida State, some of my good friends.
Q: Did you have any wow-moments in your first NFL start, going up against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers?
A: No, I didn’t. Obviously, I knew going into this game that we were going against the Superbowl Champions, but I don’t think I ever had any big-eyed moments or anything. I enjoyed the game completely and enjoyed the atmosphere as well.
Q: Did you talk to Aaron after the game?
A: I did. I mean, I shook his hand and told him that I’d see him in a couple of Mondays.
Q: Can you walk us through your morning, how it felt waking up knowing you were going to get your first NFL start?
A: I got to sleep fine but then I got up at like 5:30 a.m., went back to sleep and got up at like 6:15 a.m. I had a hard time sleeping in, but I was definitely excited. It couldn’t come fast enough, and I had some butterflies.
Q: How badly did you want to go for it at that last 4th down?
A: I didn’t know. That’s coach’s call so it’s not my thing to worry about. We figured we would have gotten the ball back; unfortunately Green Bay was able to convert. They’ve been playing well all year and we have to give credit to them.
Q: Was that (referring to Ponder’s TD celebration) your signature celebration move?
A: I’m trying things out, we’ll see what sticks.
Q: In lieu of the lockout, do you feel that you had enough preparation for your first NFL start?
A: Obviously, the lockout changed the whole circumstance of me trying to start the first game. I thought it was a great decision to bring Donovan in and give me time to sit back and learn. I figured I wouldn’t be starting for another year or two but obviously starting this game, I was excited about it. I felt that I was prepared really well and I was comfortable out there.
Q: How do you, as a QB to a team that’s 1-6, assert yourself as a leader and keep this together?
A: We have a ton of great guys that have taken leadership roles to keep this thing together. We have Hutch, Jared, EJ, and my role will come. I’m definitely trying to be a leader and do things to establish myself as a leader, and that role will eventually come. I think everyone’s doing a great job of sticking together and we’re sticking behind Coach Frazier and trying to rally. If we keep up what we did in this game, we’ll win some games. We’re definitely a good enough team to win a lot of games.
Q: Have you been able to watch a lot of Aaron’s games this year, pick up anything?
A: Not really this year. I watched him last year, obviously he does a lot of great things. He’s a great quarterback, he makes a lot of great throws and has a really strong arm.I’m different than Aaron and I play a different game. I try not to pick up too many things from other guys.
Q:What has been the toughest throw for you to make?
A: I don’t know. Obviously, I need to work on some throws that I missed in this game, but I don’t know if there’s too tough of a throw.
VIKINGS TE KYLE RUDOLPH
Q: Were you running a lot of 3 tight ends?
A: We mixed it up a lot. We had some one, some two, we had a few packages with three.
Q: Do you think this game was a good sign of what’s coming?
A: It is but moral victories don’t get you anywhere. Moral victories don’t get you to the playoffs and for us, it’s still a loss, and it’s a hard loss. We have to get back at it tomorrow.
Q: Could you tell us if Christian was nervous going into the game? Did you guys have a conversation over the weekend about it?
A: If you don’t have butterflies before a game, then you’re probably not in the right business. You can talk to the guy who’s on his 200th start, he’s got butterflies as well. He was definitely excited.
Q: Did you and Christian hang out this weekend?
A: Yeah, we room at the hotel together. We’re together a lot.
Q: Was there anything that stuck in your head
A: No. I’ve gotten to know Christian well enough to know that he was ready and to know that he put the preparation in necessary. He worked hard, week-by-week to get ready for this opportunity.
Q: What percent of the elements do you think he knows at this point.
A: One hundred percent. We don’t have to shorten anything, change anything, it’s all systems go with him. He’s a very bright kid.
Q: In a tweet you wrote “on the field” around 12:30 p.m., was that just a little nervous energy there?
A: We usually get here early, but usually I’ll run around and get warmed up while he’s throwing and then the receivers come out and we throw together. It’s just better being out there, throwing the ball around than sitting here waiting.
VIKINGS DT KEVIN WILLIAMS
Q: Did Frazier talk about the defensive line being more physical?
A: A couple of plays there at the end, I was out of position. I will take the blame for those. I was trying to be aggressive, but you just need to stay home and be true to the defense.
Q: With your backups in, how did you do against the Packers offense?
A: We slowed them down. They didn’t just come out here and put the hammer down like they have been doing so many times this year. I think we kept them in range. It was a good enough game. We should’ve been able to stop them for our offense for them to try to do something with a minute or so.
Q: Going in with the secondary as depleted as it was, did you guys ever put pressure on yourselves to get pressure?
A: We put pressure on ourselves every week. We did last week. It’s on us every week to do our jobs. It was even more so this week with the guys that played in the back end. But for the most part, they did a fairly good job. That one play at the half was a mistake but for the most part, we made them drive the field and didn’t get any big, explosive plays like they’ve been doing.
Q: Did you make any changes after the first drive?
A: They did short passes on us all day. You just need to tackle them and rally to that. He got the ball out fairly well, which we knew would happen. We tried to slow his rhythm down. But they had a great rhythm. You could tell the rhythm by the play call, how smooth they were in and out of the huddle. They were very confident in what they were doing.
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