HEAD COACH MATT RHULE
RE: Opening Statement
Obviously, credit to the Minnesota Vikings, Coach [Mike] Zimmer and his team, Kirk Cousins, [Justin] Jefferson. If you would have told me we held Dalvin Cook to 55 yards rushing and lost the game, I wouldn't have believed it. Credit to them for finding a way to win the game at the end. That being said, I didn't think that obviously was good enough by us. And I've always tried to be really honest and real and direct about where I think the fault is. I think as a coaching staff, we didn't get the job done today. I think anytime you have two defensive touchdowns and you don't win, it's on you. Anytime that you hold them to 55 yards, it's on us as a staff. To not be able to put the game away with the ball at the 10-yard line with two minutes left is unacceptable by us as a staff. To not to be able to stop them and then not be able to make the field goal at the end with a chance to win the game – we had three opportunities to close it out and we did not do it. We are a good football team. We have not closed these types of games out and tonight I feel like I try to look and see where the fault lies and today I would put it squarely on us as a staff, which starts with me. Our thoughts are with DJ [Moore]. We are hoping he is OK. We are waiting to see. I have no answers about that, about where he is at. I have no answers about Teddy [Bridgewater]. I know he came off at the end. I might would'vetried to run another play had him not be hurt. But when he went down, with six seconds left, I wasn't going to put PJ [Walker] in to throw a five-yard out so we decided to go ahead and kick it.
RE: If he you considered going for it on fourth-and-goal play from the three-yard line; Clock management
I think we ran the ball down under five, six seconds. I would have liked to have gotten it less. Teddy [Bridgewater], who normally snaps it under five was around 11 on the first drive. We had a good drive going and then had that 2nd-and-14 play that just didn't work. They hit us for a tackle for loss. We were kind of behind the chains. So, punted it down. Again, that is what I'm referring to in terms of us not keeping the ball moving. We threw the ball in the flat, weren't able to complete it. Punted the ball down, gets the ball back to us and I think that time, we ran the ball on first down, went to the two-minute warning. Ran the ball on second down to get them to use their last timeout, and had it been on the two-yard line, I would have gone for it. At the three, we hadn't had much success with those types of plays yet, so I figured take the points and make them have to score a touchdown and an extra point, with them having no timeouts left. So that was the thought process. Had they scored with five seconds left, that would say, maybe I should have run the ball on third down. I thought we had a good play. He was wide open. We just weren't able to connect on it. I thought a touchdown would end the game. Fourth down, I just figured take the points, make them score a touchdown. They scored so quickly, that I don't know that I can relay it back to any of those things. It at least gave us the chance to have the ball back at the end.
RE: If the third down play after the timeout was rushed
I don't want to sit here and complain about anything. They put the ball in play while we were still on the sidelines. Normally, those things aren't quite that fast. At least we weren't expecting it to be that fast. It was fast. That's on us. Again, it wasn't a good enough day.
RE: If it affected Teddy Bridgewater's throw and the play in general
I can't say that. At the end of the day, it's our job to have simple, calm plays. Again, it was well designed. He was under duress on that play. Have to put those things on us.
RE: If this game stings more with how the game ended compared to the other one-possession losses
No, I think they all bother you the same. This one frustrates me because I have always been very honest with the guys when they came in and thought, hey, we didn't play hard enough, we didn't play well enough, we didn't do this or that. I feel like all the things we are talking about here, falls back on us as a staff. We've got to put the ball in the end zone there at the end and end the game. Or we've got to stop them. Or we've got to make that field goal. In that game, we had a field goal blocked. We missed that field goal. Just not good enough all around. Instead of pointing fingers, I'd rather point the thumb back at me and just say, hey, that's not good enough, that falls back on me. That's not like coach speak. I'm disappointed in myself and my staff tonight.
RE: What happened defensively on Minnesota's last drive
We didn't get any pressure. They hit the deep over route to [Kyle] Rudolph crushed us because that was such an explosive play. Again, we've only been good on defense when we've been able to get pressure on the quarterback. We don't really stop people the other way. We stop people by getting pressure. We just didn't get any pressure. Didn't pressure them at all. Didn't bring any blitzes and they got the momentum, and they moved the ball down the field.
RE: How do you learn how to win?
I don't know about that question. Respectfully, I don't know that that's – I just think you have to go make one or two more plays. You know what I mean? We just have to do one or two more things better. Again, today, you always go back and figure out where the issues are. I think the coaches didn't do a good enough job. When I say coaches, me and the staff, didn't do a good enough job of giving our guys a chance to win. You go down and kick that field goal and all of a sudden that is a historic win. With no time, we make that great catch to Curtis [Samuel], we throw another ball to Robby [Anderson] and it's an elite day. We make that kick, and we are talking about what a historic day by Jeremy Chinn with two defensive touchdowns. I just think it comes down to one or two more plays. Not beating ourselves. All those types of things. I just didn't think we played really good today on the offensive side and at crunch time, the defense. I don't want to put anything on the players if that makes sense. That's why I'm saying I don't know about that question today. If it had been the players had been scared, and all those things, that's when I think that's appropriate. Today, I just don't think we did a good enough job down the stretch as coaches.
RE: If he thought there was a let up after second defensive touchdown
I didn't feel that. I think the issue today, we couldn't score on offense. We scored 13 points on offense. We didn't score. We missed a field goal. We threw a pick in the red zone. I thought the defense played. These guys score about 28 points a game. I'd like us to be better in the two-minute. It's 10 points in the two-minute with the touchdown at the end and the field goal before the half. I thought our defense, they played decent down the stretch, just that last drive. I really felt like offensively, I thought we were going to play much better and we just really didn't.
RE: What body part Teddy Bridgewater injured
I have no idea. Honest to goodness. He came off the field, we kicked it, I shook the coach's hand, came in, said the prayer and came over here.
If the biggest problem offensively is missing Christian McCaffrey
I think obviously Christian makes a huge difference when he is out there because he is a great player, but I think we can score more points with the guys that are out there, and we just haven't. We get the ball down in the red zone and we kind of bogged down today and kicked a field goal at the end, kicked a field goal earlier, missed a field goal. Two of those are touchdowns, then all of a sudden, it's a walkaway game. We have to put those types of games away earlier.
RE: How much he feels game management is what he is taking blame for today
I think the issue today was maybe not having field goals at the end, having timeouts at the end. I had to use one on a critical third down because we had a mix up on defense. Had to use one, because I wanted to try to draw them offsides because I knew field goals were not going to win that game, if that makes sense, and I didn't trust moving it back five. I really felt like, hey, if we can get them to draw offsides, we can end the game. I did not want to keep kicking field goals and put them back out on the field. I think if I could go back now, would I do those things, probably not, but in the moment, I don't look back at those. At the end, we have to try win the game. We are not going to sit around. We ran the ball on first down. We ran the ball on second down to make them use their time out and then threw the ball on third down to try and score a touchdown. We have great receivers. We were popped open and we didn't make the play. I don't think too much about that. Maybe the drive before, as Joe said. But at the end of the day, we had the ball with a chance to go win the game. To me, that's my job as a coach. What I don't like is, I don't like the rushing to the line, all those different things that happened. I don't like on defense, them just going down the field and us not laying a hand on the quarterback. I just think that falls on me. I think if you look at the analytics, it would say on 4th-and-2 go for it at the end, and 4th-and-3 don't. I just think that was the way we had it. I thought we blocked the extra point at the end to put it into overtime. I thought we timed it well. I think everything has to be under review. It's hard for me to talk about things right now in the moment. That's why I usually talk to you guys on Monday so I can go back and watch it. So that would be what I would say.
QB Teddy Bridgewater
RE: His arm injury at the end of the game
My arm is good. I just got sideswiped or something in my arm, I think. I don't know.
RE: What happened on the missed pass to DJ Moore
I think we've just got to be better from top to bottom, from the sideline to executing on the field. It's one of those deals where I felt like we might have panicked a little bit trying to figure out what play call to call in that situation because it's like do we run the ball and get stopped, make the clock go down to a minute and 10 or throw the ball and try to score? I think, honestly, we called a great play, we just didn't have enough time to execute, but it was a play where we wanted to shift Robby [Anderson] to get a good man zone read to see what defense they're in and because we're against the clock we just had to rush into it. I think if we would've gotten the play call in or we would've been able to make a decision sooner on what call to make, I think we see the look, we check to a run play and hopefully we score and make the clock go down. But it's just one of those deals where DJ [Moore] popped open. It wasn't the right look but still just got to hit to hit the throw.
RE: Whether the play call came in late to him from the sidelines
It was just one of those deals where we were trying to decide how we wanted to approach the situation. Did we want to run the ball, like I said, get the clock down and then before you know it, once you made the decision, had about 15 seconds, we just tried to hurry up and get the play snapped. But looking back, if we could've just gotten off a second or three seconds later, we would've gotten to run play and had a better chance to score a touchdown.
RE: His emotions today
No, honestly, I was just here to play a football game and try to win a football game. Obviously, we came up short but hopefully we can use this bye, get a little time, come back and get on the run for the next four games.
RE: Red zone issues today
We knew going into this game that they had one of the top red zone defenses in the League. The turnover in the red zone, we had two guys who ended up in the same spot. Mike [Davis] did a great job winning on the route, Robby was trying to beat the MIKE [linebacker] and they just ended up in the same spot and the MIKE [linebacker] ended up making the play. We've just got to get better. We had a stretch where we were great in the red zone, then you look at the past two weeks and we struggled. So, obviously, we use this bye week to figure out how we can get back to being good in the red zone.
RE: How difficult it is to keep going through close losses
Yeah, it's very difficult. It's frustrating but you understand that everything happens for a reason. Obviously, you learn a lot from games like these and hopefully, you don't have to keep experiencing this. It's great to see the defense out there playing fast, scoring points; special teams creating turnovers. I think when you play a game like that and you win the turnover battle and score two defensive touchdowns, you usually win those kinds of games. But I think today it was one of those days where we've just got to keep that killer instinct. You can't get up and try to protect the lead, you want to take the lead and continue to try to run it up. Eventually, you end up running the ball in the fourth quarter to seal victories but throughout the third quarter and things like that, there's a lot of time left, a lot of football left. It's one of those deals where you just want to stay aggressive and I think we can do a better job of that.
S Jeremy Chinn
RE: What it was like to get two defensive touchdowns in 10 seconds
The moment was fun. No other way to explain the moment – it was fun, it was exciting. I haven't scored a touchdown since high school so that was cool getting back in the end zone.
RE: His second touchdown
Yeah, I got to the pile a little late and he was already wrapped up, so I went for the ball and ripped it out. I think it ended up bouncing off somebody's leg and landed right in my hands, so I just took off with it.
RE: What changed for the defense on the 75-yard drive
We just have to finish. I feel like I say that all the time, but we can't let our opponent breathe. We're playing good as a defense and we've just got to keep it going and put the nail in the coffin.
WR Robby Anderson
RE: How frustrating was it to lose after having the lead for most of the second half?
It's very frustrating, every loss. Any loss is frustrating. It's frustrating.
RE: Offensive struggles in the red zone
I just think we are not executing to our level of expectations, just simple as that. We've got to improve.
RE: The third-and-goal play, was the confusion on what to call a factor on what made the play go sideways?
I think, that's more of, not really so much from my perspective. I'm just running my route. I feel like that's not really my stance.
RE: WR DJ Moore leaving the game early with injury
Obviously I'm just hoping that he is okay, not nothing serious. Just hoping that it's not nothing serious, nothing long term. Seeing somebody go down like that, you never know. That's just my biggest thing, just hoping that he is alright.
RE: How would you sum up the way game management worked in this game?
I can't really speak on that. At the end of the day we didn't win the game. When we manage the game in terms of being great or terms of being bad, if we would have won, it kind of overrides all of that. When you lose, everything gets magnified. It's a tough game, it's a tough business but that's the hard thing about losing. You put in all of this work, when you lose and you don't get the results that you are looking for, everybody is trying to find a finger to point or a reason to solve or figure out what it was, but winning is the answer.
DT Zach Kerr
RE: The postgame message in the locker room
[Head Coach Matt Rhule] delivered a message and, honestly, I'm not really too big on giving the in-house messages out, but it was encouraging. Us, as the players, we had a message throughout the team that we delivered, and I think everybody understood and agreed on what we said in the locker room. It wasn't any negativity. It wasn't any finger-pointing. It wasn't any of that stuff, it was just us realizing that we can't beat ourselves and things of that nature. It's difficult for me to give you everything verbatim to be completely honest with you.
RE: How frustrating it was to not be able to get to Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins on the final drive
Very frustrating. But nothing's as frustrating as allowing him to go 75 yards with no timeouts to win the game. That's highly frustrating. It's not even about us getting a sack or any of that. It's just getting off the field – whether it's a sack, whether it's an incomplete ball – it doesn't matter how we got off the field, we just wanted to get off the field. There's nothing more frustrating than allowing him to go 75 to win the game.
RE: Whether the three-man rush gave Cousins more time to survey the field
I would have to watch the tape. I was out there for a couple of plays so I couldn't really tell you what was really going on. In those situations, a lot of the times you're just playing football and you're not really thinking about 'it's this, it's that,' you're just trying to get off the field any way you can – fight, claw, scratch to get off the field. We have to watch the film to see what the real issue was but…I don't really have too many words. They went 75 yards to win the game and that's unacceptable by us.
RE: How to move on from this game
You have to look in the mirror when you watch this film. I'm talking to all 53 guys, 46 guys that played today or whatever number it is. You just have to watch this film with an honest eye and see what needs to be corrected and see what we did good. A lot of times when we watch the film after the game, especially after a loss, you think it's just all negatives and then you go down and you look and there are five, six plays out of 60 plays that changed the game. So, you look at the film, you look yourself in the mirror, you look at it with an honest eye, you make corrections, you look at the positives and you move on.
RE: What makes him confident that the team will stay positive through the bye week
That's our culture. That's who we are. I don't know how many times I've said this, but you go down our roster and you look at the guys that are on our team and all of us are fighters. We're all underdogs, we've all been overlooked, so staying positive and keep fighting, that's easy for us. That's not hard for us, that's really easy. I don't think there's really any reason or specific anything for us to go the opposite direction. We've been the same way through wins and losses, so I think it's easy for us to stay where we are.
CB Corn Elder
RE: S Jeremy Chinn
He is a great player, I'm sure he can probably play offense as well, but he has been playing well and made some great plays today.
RE: Minnesota's game-winning drive
We just have to make plays. They did a good of attacking our zones. Obviously, Kirk Cousins is a great quarterback. They attacked the zones, they made some good plays. The last play, he threw a great ball. I just have to make that play.
RE: In those late game situations, how do you balance staying aggressive and making sure you are not beat over the top and give up the big play when you know they are out of timeouts?
You just have to try to do your job, just try to execute the defense, stick to your technique, and you just have to play ball, man. That's really it.
RE: Frustration following today's game
It definitely sucks to lose it that way. We had a chance to win it on the defensive end and we didn't. It definitely sucks but you know, just have to go back look at the film, see what we did, see what we did wrong, see what we could do better and just move forward.
K Joey Slye
RE: What happened on the final kick
I felt my foot get a lot of turf on the backend, on turf fields if you let your foot get caught at all its going to usually grab. Just have to see, film wise, just where my body positioning is. Felt good going into the kick. Honestly, other than that, felt good warming up. We'll see if my chest is forward, my foot is probably down. If my chest is forward, foots down it's going to hit deep on the ball, I'm going to get on that right panel and pull it. That's kind of what I am thinking happened but like I said I just have to look at the film and see it live speed. Not elite in my position there so pretty frustrated about that.
RE: If the kick, at 54-yards, is one he feels he has to make
Yeah. I think for myself, I think that's 100% in range, just based off what I've put on tape and what I've been able to do. A 54-yarder is something that should be in my wheelhouse and should be somewhat of a kick that's a higher percentage for not only myself but for the team to view. For me not to do what they sent me out there to do and what I feel comfortable hitting is frustrating for me. I want to put myself in a lot of those situations to put the team on my back and kind of wear that hat on my head and help us in different ways and today I let the team down so I'm pretty frustrated about that.
RE: If the blocked kick early had any effect on the timing or the mechanics of the last kick
No, we had two kicks prior to that last one that had good op times, hid decent balls on them, had nothing to do with it. just have to go out and execute them when called upon. For me to try to get in that elite category of my position I've got to be able to go out and hit kicks like that on a pretty consistent basis.
RE: If the operation was perfect on the blocked kick and if the Vikings just got a good jump on the snap
To be honest, I'm usually just trying to stay with what me, JJ [Jansen] and Joe [Charlton] have going on with our operation. We'll look on film. I'm going to do everything in my power, in the things that I can control, to obviously not let situations like that to happen. To be honest I don't even know. We were looking at the sideline copies that we have on the tablets, or whatever, and trying to figure where it came from me. But for me, I don't know really where it really came from, I'm just going to try whatever I can control on those.
RE: If the snap, the kick, the hold, everything like that went pretty smooth
Yeah, I felt pretty confident on the ball strike on that one. I felt like I had good elevation and everything like that, felt good coming off my foot. Like I said, we'll just see what the tape tells. Like I said, I'll try to control what I can control on those.
RE: Kicking on turf
So different surfaces are going to give you different compression on your plant foot. Obviously, like I said earlier, if you get any turf like that it's going to be kind of difficult to get through it, it's just a little bit different than grass. Grass, you can kind of get underneath of it, kind of let your foot take some of the grass with you and still get through the the ball but with turf it's a little bit more firm so it's harder to get through the ball sometimes. Yeah, there is different little nuances you have to do with your plant foot and swing just to make sure that you're not getting turf. I guess I have to look at the tape, see what happened on that last one and kind of go from there.
View in-game photos from Carolina's Week 12 game at Minnesota.