Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
Alright. Wow. That was a heck of a game wasn't it? And the good guys won. Honestly I don't know what to say to be honest with you. It was an unbelievable game, lot of ebbs and flows throughout the course of the ball game. The first half was obviously outstanding and then we did some things. We turned the ball over, we had a punt blocked and then we took a sack in field goal range and we missed a field goal. If we would have done things better I think the score wouldn't of been this close and we wouldn't have had to throw that last pass. But everything works out in the end.
Q: Was the goal on that last pass to just try and get in field goal range?
A: Yeah, well we were going to try to get out of bounds because we had no timeouts left and you know one of the things I said to one of the guys on the sideline…'We've been practicing all these situations through OTA's and training camp and even during the season.' We actually practice that one every week and you know, [Stefon] Diggs made a great play, great catch. Case [Keenum] made a great throw. I've tried to put these guys in all these different situations throughout the course of the year and luckily it payed off today.
Q: Have you ever been a part of such an exhilarating victory?
A: I don't know. This is pretty good. I mean to get a chance to go play in the NFC Championship game is pretty darn good.
Q: When you saw Stefon Diggs galloping with a clear path to the end zone what were you thinking?
A: You know I was, first thing I did was, I was saying get out of bounds and then I saw him running and I'm looking to see if he stepped out of bounds and then I'm going back to look and see if we had any penalties or anything on it. Then the next thing I did was look at the clock to see how much time was left. So, I don't know some guys jumped on me I don't remember exactly what happened.
Q: Before that were you tipping your hat to Drew Brees with what he was able to do or were you frustrated with your defense?
A: You know, I told the defensive guys after they scored the second touchdown, I said 'we knew this was going to be a dog fight'. You don't play a guy like him and the things they do offensively with the weapons that they have without getting into a fight. We knew it wasn't going to be a 17-0 game. We played outstanding defensively in the first half. We had an opportunity on 4th and 10 and didn't get them stopped. I probably stuck with a call one too many times and when you do that to a great quarterback, "Hey let's open these things up" (to the crowd). I said in my mind if we win today I'm going to open these things up. "You deserve it, you deserve it!" (to the crowd). Alright where are we at, sorry.
Q: How big was that 3rd and 1 stop?
A: Well it was big because if they got that first down they were basically going to run the clock out and win the game. It was another situation we've gone over. Unfortunately had to use two timeouts there, but it was big.
Q: A couple weeks ago you said there's no curse. When you have a play like that does it kind of validate that?
A: I think that crystal ball and that wood spirit is working. If there was a curse, then we probably would of lost today. (Crowd chanting "Zimmer") I love it, I love it. Go ahead what's next?
Q: Joe Berger said in the huddle that Case Keenum said 'I'm going to give one of you guys a chance'. Is that kind of what he's done for you guys all year long?
A: Yeah, you know I thought he played, the interception was poor but he made some great throws, that throw to Jarius Wright was an unbelievable throw. I was disappointed in the interception, or the, well the interception obviously but the sack. You know, we're in field goal range. I just got done telling Pat [Shurmur], "no sacks here Pat, make sure we get him protected." Those are situations we work on too.. we're in field goal range and it's 3rd and 7 or something like that, the worst thing that can happen is we get a sack and get out of field goal range.
Q: How big was Case Keenum's first pass to Jarius Wright after the interception?
A: That was a big time throw, that showed his um, that showed his moxie.
Q: For your offense to come up with a miracle play like that, what does that say about these guys?
A: Well I thought our offense played well today. They went down the field early in the ball game and scored a touchdown. They went down just like we planned it. This team has a lot of confidence. (Crowd chanting "Zimmer, Zimmer!") This is the best press conference ever. "Come to Philly"(to the crowd). This team has a lot of confidence in each other and you can tell the offense has confidence in the defense… Linval Joseph was standing on the sideline saying 'we're gonna win this game' and I mean, just so many… but they have a lot of confidence in each other, they believe in one another, they work hard with one another. (Crowd chants "we want Philly!") I'm not saying that, I'm not saying that, I'm not saying that on TV for sure.
Q: What'd you think of the crowd?
A: The crowd was unbelievable today. Just like these guys are here. It was the loudest environment I've ever been in. The atmosphere was the best I've ever seen. It was so loud. Every time the defense went out there, they started yelling and cheering. They got quiet when the offense was out there. Can you guys bring me a beer? That's the best crowd I've ever witnessed. They helped us today. They did and the man upstairs did.
Q: You emphasized situational football so much this season, have you ever seen that translate so much?
A: Well, most of the time, we didn't play great in the red zone today on defense. The first time we played this team, we played great in the red zone. They scored touchdowns today, which hurt us. There was a couple times when we ended up having to kick field goals where we should've got touchdowns. That part today was not nearly as good. They changed some things up and we had to adjust.
Q: What were your emotions like during that final couple minutes?
A: There's so much going on at that time, we're trying to stop them, I'm trying to make calls. It's third down, fourth down, third-and-one. Hoping they miss the field goal or we block it. We get the ball back, thinking of when to call timeouts, we only had one left, so I'm thinking of when to use it. I mean, there was so many things going on that I don't know if I had time to be emotional. After the game, I was still kind of in shock to be honest with you. A couple guys grabbed me and hugged me, jumped on me. Proud of this team, though, fighters.
Q: What did you think of Case's composure on that final drive?
A: Case is a pretty cool customer. Kind of tells you a little bit about this guy, he was excited before the game, like most of our guys were. I think the way that he handled himself today. He's got a big chip on his shoulder. He's always trying to prove people wrong. I do love that about him, he's a lot like our team. Our team is always trying to prove people wrong. I get criticized for playing the underdog role but that's just who we are.
Q: How would you describe your emotions before the last play?
A: Well, I saw the coverage that they were playing. They probably should have had a chance but you know, at the end of the game like that, if you mess up or you miss and it was a great throw, Kyle went out in the flat real quick and sucked the one guy up and then the other guy was hanging back. We talked about throwing a double move on the other side of the field because the safety was hanging in the middle and they changed the coverage a little bit. So, it just worked out. As a matter of fact, I was in a game like this once. When I was in Dallas, we played the Giants, it was like hardly any time left, their kicker kicked it out of bounds, they just scored. We threw the exact same play, completed it, kicked the field goal and went home. Now that I think about it. It was the same play.
Q: You talked about not getting too high after a win like this, is that going to be tough after this one?
A: I think at times you have to be able to celebrate an unbelievable play like this. This team is pretty well grounded. They'll get back to what they do. They know we're going to have a tough task next week in Philadelphia. Last time we played there, we didn't play great.
Q: What went into the decision to active Sam Bradford?
A: Shamar Stephen was a little bit banged up, so I needed an extra defensive lineman and Bradford played great against this team in the past, so that's why I thought about it.
Q: Still don't think there is a curse, correct?
A: That didn't look like a curse out there to me, that looked like a Hail Mary.
Minnesota Vikings Quarterback Case Keenum
Q: What did you say in the huddle during that last drive?
A: I don't remember. There's a lot I don't remember. I'm still swimming with a lot of emotions. It was probably on the lines of "Hey, let's give it a chance." We needed a big chunk. We saw the timeout and we knew there was still a possibility. Still some hope. But we just said, "Hey, let's get a chunk or two and see what happens."
Q: Based on the coverage you saw, did you think you'd have that pass to Stefon Diggs?
A: Yes, I was throwing the ball to Diggs on that play. It was pretty well covered. I mean it wasn't like a normal – I don't know. I'll have to watch the film, too. I just saw a little bit of an opening. Threw it, he jumped up and you all saw it.
Q: In that situation, do you throw it to the deepest guy?
A: Yes, Diggs was the deepest guy on that route. We had a couple guys on the sideline there. We were all trying to get out of bounds if he caught it. He happened to not get out of bounds.
Q: Is that play called seven heaven or seventh heaven?
A: Seven heaven.
Q: Did you just need to make a play or that play?
A: I don't know. Yes, I'm not going to say I picked it out beforehand, but I knew that we needed a big chunk like that. Adam [Thielen] was on the other side but they had a couple guys covered over there. Just try to give a guy a chance. I don't know what the percentage was, but just try to give the guy a chance and [Diggs] made an awesome play.
Q: Did you have a clear view after Stefon Diggs broke the tackle and what did you do?
A: I saw him go up and I was like, "Oh, he had a chance to catch it." He caught it, and I'm like, "Oh he's got a chance to go out of bounds." Like, get out of bounds. He fell kind of back in bounds, away from, I don't know who was it, 48 or 43, and he almost fell over. I couldn't believe what was happening. I really couldn't. It was awesome.
Q: With 10 seconds left, it's probably the last play call that's not a Hail Mary, what are the nerves like in the huddle?
A: There's no nerves at that point. We're just fighting, and clawing and scratching, and just trying to get the ball down the field. Most of those guys have been running down the field two-minute mode, so they were all just trying to get their breath back. I wouldn't say there's nerves at that point. You're just doing everything you can to win the game.
Q: Did you have a target yard line you were trying to get to to give Kai Forbath a chance?
A: There's always the 35, 30 that you try to get to. That's not something I was thinking of at the time. I was just trying to get as many yards as we could and get out of bounds.
Q: When you get to the line of scrimmage and you see the defense, does that tip you off at all to where you are going to go or was it more the situation?
A: Yes, there are pre-snap reads. Based on that play, it was more of a progression. I just threw it, [Diggs] just caught it and then he ran in the end zone.
Q: To prepare you in those moments, Coach Zimmer said you've run that play a lot. To prepare you in those moments, do you already have a mental memory of it?
A: Yes, at that point you're just reacting. When you're that tired, it's that late, you're just fighting and clawing, like I said it's a reaction. I remember being on the sideline, being on the sideline, looking over some last minute plays. I just was thinking, just go react and play. Just a kid, throwing a football to another big kid and he just runs and scores.
Q: Has it occurred to you yet that you are going to see that play for the rest of your life in highlight films?
A: No, I haven't thought of that. I still, like I said, I don't know if I can put it in perspective right now. My family is here. I am just going to go enjoy the night and get ready for conference championship on Sunday.
Q: Have you ever played in an offense there is this much trust in what you're doing?
A: I've got a lot of trust in those guys and we all trust each other. There was a moment before the game today. I remember just looking around, it was after warmups. We came back in and everybody was high fiving, going around and just getting locked in. I remember thinking, "This is such a special group of guys. This is such a special group of guys." I've never been around a group like this before, from top to bottom. That's not even counting what kind of football players they are. It's the type of guys they are. It's really cool. To do what we did today with them, I can't put words with that. To do what we did today in this building, how awesome was that atmosphere? I couldn't hear myself think when we were over there on the sideline. It was stinking loud. Those fans were incredible. They stayed until the end. They stayed as long as they could. They're still probably still in there. They're probably trying to kick them out. It was an awesome day.
Q: Stefon Diggs makes that play, Jarius Wright makes the catch down the sideline, and Adam Thielen makes the one. How does it calibrate the way you play quarterback if you give them any sort of chance?
A: That's what I've done all year. That's what those guys have done all year. That's what they ask me, is "Hey, just give me a chance." There is a bunch of plays that I can look back that they've made huge plays. You never know which play is going to be when you look back and be like, "That play was huge. This play was huge." And all of those guys can make those plays.
Q: How important was that throw to Jarius Wright to come back after the interception the next throw to put that one behind you?
A: That interception was a bonehead play by myself. But to come back to get a couple scoring drives was really nice. I think Coach Shurmur called a great game today. I think it was a good bounce back drive.
Q: [Kyle] Rudolph said it would have been shame to waste that play and lose this game?
A. Yeah. It's very magical, miraculous. I am sure you guys will find lots of good words to name the play or whatever you guys are going to do, but yeah for us, we don't waste any opportunity, any opportunity that's given to us, especially this one, so does it put more pressure on the future or this next game? No this game is big no matter what, so it's a big game and against a good opponent.
Q: It seemed like you had that school-yard style where you just put it out there and see what happens. It seemed to work for you?
A: Yeah, sometimes you get in trouble too. The play after the pick, I was doing something I wasn't supposed to, so there's a fine line you have to walk; taking chances and giving guys chances, but also being smart with the football, and then just settling down and then going through your reads and making the plays that are there to be made.
Q: Was today made up of a number of memorable moments?
A: Yes, there are lots of moments today. I'm going to have to make sure that I look back and remember a lot of those because yeah, that was one. There were many today.
Q: Do you believe the outcome of this game? You guys were behind with :30 left.
A: I don't. I really don't. It's incredible. I still can't believe it. I guess I can believe it now. I believe it now, but I don't know.
Q: You have been here less than a year, and a lot of these moments have tended to go the other way? Do you feel the significance of this game?
A: So far. We've got a few good games ahead, so yes; definitely so far. It was a special end. It was a special game, that's for sure.
Q: What was going through your head after the touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs?
A: I don't know. You guys know better words than I do to describe that type of moment. I just couldn't believe it. I couldn't, at the time. I was, I was looking for people to hug, and I knew I wasn't going to get all the way to [Stefon Diggs] Diggsie, but linemen, anybody, anybody that was close enough just yelling and screaming at each other. It was fun. It was a lot of fun.
Q: Has it processed yet you're one game away from the Super Bowl?
A: No, we have another game ahead of us and that's what the playoffs are about. We're going to take this one step at a time.
Q: What is a moment like this, checking off a fourth quarter come back?
A: It gives you confidence I think. Like I said, being a kid growing up, that's what you do in the backyard. There's thirty seconds to go, you're down by two, fourth quarter, playoffs. Drew Brees is the quarterback for the other team. That's what you dream about.
Q: Is this so exciting for you to take in the collective anxiety of the fan base?
A: I don't have the history that the Vikings fans have around here. I know the history, but I'm just excited for all fans, the Wilfs', coach [Mike] Zimmer, [Rick] Spielman, all those guys, and the fans especially. I'm so excited that they get to be a part of something like this,that the people that were here tonight get to be a part of something special. I just think it's incredible, and it's incredible for anybody that's a Vikings fan.
Q: You have your first playoff game under your belt, along with a win. Is there a calming effect that comes along with this?
A: We move forward, and we move forward with how we know how to, and that's playing our style of football, that's being smart with the ball, that's running the ball, it's scoring more points and to try and put it in perspective, it's hard to do right now. We're just going to try and keep moving forward.
Vikings Kicker Kai Forbath
Q: What's your reaction to winning in that manner?
A: I think 'Wow' is perfect. I mean, that was incredible. When you're losing by two points or whatever at the end there and no one gave up. Just insane.
Q: The thought is, to get you in range. You had to have been preparing for that. Talk about the wave of emotion, from preparing and then have that type of outcome.
A: Just staying confident – we hit those two before. Just staying ready and even if Diggs went out of bounds, we were going to be in range. I was ready to kick another one, but what an incredible way to win.
Q: What's it like to stare down a 52-yard field goal in a playoff game?
A: I was trying to just tell myself, it's just like practice. I've made that kick plenty of times. Don't change anything – I didn't want to have any regrets after it. Just swing normal.
Q: The season continues – how gratifying is that feeling?
A: It's huge. That would have been a pretty terrible way to lose. We kept fighting and we got it done.
Vikings Defensive End Danielle Hunter
Q: How difficult was it to contain Drew Brees and stop that offense?
A: I mean the main point was just getting to him. We knew he was getting the ball out in 2.5 seconds, or something like that. So the main job was just getting to him and the defensive backs needed to do their jobs and we needed to be on one page.
Q: The first half you really contained the running with Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram II II the second half things kind of changed but what did you keep telling yourselves on defense?
A: Just that the game is not over yet. We still have time on the clock. Just go out there and do your job.
Q: You had a few hiccups but how did you come out and finish this one?
A: As you saw, we held them to a field goal instead of scoring at the end and that kind of helped us out on offense. We just had to sit on the sidelines and believe and you saw what happened.
Vikings Wide Receiver Stefon Diggs
Q: When you guys break the huddle are you thinking this is going to be the last play or where you thinking you were trying to get into field goal range?
A: We've had so many situations where we have limited time so I was thinking more or so catch and get out of bounds or maybe we could kick a field goal range. I felt a guy brush past me and I took a picture before I turned around to catch the ball and there was only one guy there. If he slips, then I'm going to try and stay up.
Q: Did you feel you were going to fall out of bounds?
A: I was preparing for somebody to contact me so I could get out of bounds but nobody touched me, I lost my foot a little bit and then I just tried to gather myself and my hand never let me go, the rest is history,
Q: What was going through your mind as ran into the end zone?
A: I couldn't believe it, really. It's plays like this that you dream about your whole life and finally it happens. Give it all to God because he came through in this situation. It's our team, we have a group of fighters, guys that fight until the end until the clock hits zero. Especially the guys on offense. Half the guys on offense nobody wanted
Q: What does it mean to win a game like this?
A: It's a turning point for everybody. Majority of people doubt us, they don't think it's going to happen especially because of history. People have a way of saying history repeats itself, I guess this is not one of those cases. You want to give it all to God most importantly because he put us all in this position and this something special.
Q: How often would you say you practice this situation?
A: Never. This specific situation, we were mostly just playing for it to go out of bounds, so we could kick a field goal and we call that 'mayday mayday mayday'. Hopefully kick the field goal and make it but god had other plans today.
Q: Did you think based on what you saw on the defense pre-snap that there was a better chance it was coming to you?
A: Nah. We ran that same play twice. We ran it that time before that and we were just trying to get down the field. We just have to make it work and Adam said before we went out, "I don't care what it's called make it work." Adam has history of making things work obviously and everyone was just doing their job.
Q: Have you ever been in a situation like this in your career?
A: This is the highest level, so I would say, heck no. This is definitely something special more or so because of my teammates and the guys we have. We have a history of things going up and down especially considering how last year went. People still think we're going to blow it, we came pretty close this game, but god had other plans.
Q: Was that a play that you practice all the time?
A: No, I usually don't talk about plays because, you know, you talk about this play and then they're going to watch it. But regardless, we run what works. We run what we feel comfortable doing and Case threw a great ball. The rest is history.
Q: What was it like seeing Kai Forbath hit the 53-yarder?
A: Kai being Kai. It's kind of funning because Kai had to drain one on his old team. It's kind of big and you kind of see that with players that used to play somewhere else. They usually play really well. It was a special moment, especially for us. At that point in the game we went up. We didn't think it was over. We kind of figured we had a long way to go and once we get the ball back, we got to go score or get some points. It was definitely a special moment for him. We knew it wasn't over but we sure did appreciate it.
Q: How did you feel about Case Keenum being able to bounce back after the interception?
A: It's Case being Case. Kind of like I said earlier, half the guys on offense nobody really wanted – late round guys, guys that got a lot to prove with a chip on their shoulder. I feel like Case has done that each and every week. Guys, not just guys, but majority of people count him out because he hasn't been there because he hasn't played a playoff game, and now he has. And to see him persevere and push through adversity, that's what our team represents. Our coach talks about it all the time- adversity is going to hit at one point in the game. It's all about how you respond. I feel like he responded really, really well, especially when the pressure is on. He'll crack a smile at you to let you know he's in it to win it, always.
Q: There weren't many times that the offense game from behind to win the game. How fulfilling was this?
A: I actually don't feel that fulfilled. It's a great feeling to execute. To see that the time that you put into the game that you love kind of come into fruition, but more so, we want to play cleaner football so that you won't be in that situation. It just so happen that we were put into that situation and kind of had to make it work.
Q: When people say Stefon Diggs, they're going to associate you with that play. Are you prepared for that?
A: No. No, it's kind of fresh. I'm more so happy for us going into the NFC Championship because with how this year went and the guys that we got. It all played out the way it was supposed to, with the ups and the downs and the naysayers and the people that did support us pushed us in the right direction. That's all we really cared about. It meant so much to me to see my quarterback believe in me the last play of the game or potentially last play of the game. I'm not getting emotional; don't worry about it. For him to believe in me at that moment God put me here.
Q: How do you feel about going to Philadelphia and potentially coming back home to play in the Super Bowl?
A: I wasn't really tripping. It really didn't matter. We got the best fans in the league. It would have been nice to be home, but I feel like if we take care of business the way we're supposed to we'll have another chance to see our fans. But, going to Philly, I don't care where we play at. I'm just happy we have another opportunity to put some good stuff on tape, clean up the mistakes, you know and go out there and do what we got to do to win. Like I said last week, I don't care how we do it. I don't care how we got to do it or what we got to do. I just want to win.
Q: What were you thinking when you saw that you were going to score a touchdown?
A: Funny story, they all laid on me and I almost passed out. There were some heavy guys and I don't weigh that much. I was just trying to catch my breath but I didn't really think about what happened. I still don't. It's kind of like a storybook ending and it never ends that way. Usually it's reality, it's real life so the things you worry about, you walk home and you worry about tomorrow, but today had other plans. Like I said, I give it all to God. Things like this just don't happen.
Q: How does your game winning touchdown compare to your brother and his recent College National Championship win?
A: He's still one up on me. He's got a Natty, so I never even came close to smelling a Natty. I'm happy for him. I was so excited. I can't wait to see his jewelry. I'm proud of him.
Q: Is he here?
A: Yes, my little brother is here. The one that won the Natty. It's his first NFL game. First NFL game ever, so good to end it on a good note.
Q: How long do you let yourself celebrate?
A: A couple hours. Tomorrow we go back to work and I got squats.
Q: Did you cry?
A: I didn't boo-hoo, teary-eyed a little bit. I'll cry when I'm by myself.
Q: Any of your teammates ugly cry?
A: They're all ugly regardless if they're crying or not.