DETROIT LIONS VS. MINNESOTA VIKINGS: POSTGAME NOTES AND QUOTES

Hondo S. Carpenter

POSTGAME NOTES

  • 15-year veteran K Jason Hanson became the fourth player in NFL history to split the uprights from 50 yards out 30 times in his career. Hanson kicked a 53-yard field goal in the second quarter, good for his third 50-yard strike of the season. He also hit a 45-yard goal in today's game.
  • Hanson recorded his 10th touchback of the season on the opening kickoff of the game.
  • RB Kevin Jones (61) made his 60th reception of the year on Detroit's fourth quarter touchdown to become the third Lions pass catcher with 60-or-more catches on the year. Jones, WR Roy Williams (69) and WR Mike Furrey (74) make up the first Lions trio to each record 60 receptions in a season.
  • By recording 61 catches this year, Jones now has the second-most receptions by a Lions running back in club history. He surpassed FB Cory Schlesinger's 2001 tally of 60 and is behind RB James Jones' team record of 77 set in 1984.
  • Jones' 23-yard touchdown catch was his eighth trip into the end zone on the season. His two receiving and six rushing touchdowns combine to set a new career-high for Jones.
  • QB Jon Kitna's 294 passing yards moved his season total to 3,484 yards, which ties Scott Mitchell's 1997 total for the second-highest single-season tally in Lions history.
  • By surpassing the 200-yard mark today, Kitna has passed for at least 200 yards in all 13 games this year, and he is the only quarterback in the NFL throw for at least 200 yards in all 13 games this season.
  • Kitna's 301 pass completions now rank third all-time in the Lions single-season passing records and his 483 attempts rank fifth.
  • With 73 yards in today's game, WR Roy Williams now has 1,116 yards on the season. He is the first Lions wide receiver to garner 1,100 yards in a season since Johnnie Morton (1,154 yards) in 2001. Williams' 1,116 yards is the 10th highest single-season total in team history.
  • CB Jamar Fletcher stormed 88 yards after picking off a pass for his first interception return for a touchdown of his career. It was his second pick as a Lion, and he tied a career high for interceptions in a season with two. The return also marked the longest of his career.
  • Fletcher's 88-yard interception in the second quarter was the longest interception return by a Lion since CB Bryant Westbrook recorded a 101-yard return off of a pick vs. New England (11/23/00).
  • By stymieing a PAT conversion in the second quarter, the Lions have stopped the Vikings on two PAT attempts this season. T Jared DeVries blocked Ryan Longwell PAT in the teams' first meeting earlier this season at Minnesota (10/8/06).

HEAD COACH ROD MARINELLI
Opening statement:
"We'll start off with the injuries first. (Ross) Verba has a pretty severe groin strain. We still have to check that out. Jeff Backus (had a) foot (injury) and he was able to come back in a little bit later. Kevin Jones - he's going to need to an MRI. I don't want to talk about it until we get that done. And then Blaine (Saipaia) had a reoccurrence of his chest (injury). So, we're going to have to see where he's at.

"Obviously it was not a good game. (I'm) disappointed with how we started the game. I was looking for more. More energy (and) more competitiveness as that game started and we didn't do that. I thought after late in the second quarter we started getting some energy and playing a little bit better. But, the six turnovers kill you - you can't do it. I mean, it's just not good football. Run defense was an issue. They tried to work it inside on us and tried to keep the clock moving a little bit on us that way - can't do it. We got to run the ball. Those things are - that's a good football team. So, that's what you're trying to work at and we weren't able to get that accomplished. (We have) no excuses, there's no explanations for it. We (have to) watch the film on some of these turnovers - I got to see that. It's not all one guy. So, we'll look at that and I'll be able to come up with better answers for you tomorrow."

On what he has going for him right now, what it is about his coaching, that can make anyone believe this team can be turned around: "Yeah. We will. I think it's a strong belief and a team that wants to work at it. To put this thing together, you just got to keep putting it together, got to keep getting some good young players in the program and you keep working at it. It just doesn't happen. It just doesn't do that. If you're looking for that, it's not going to happen."

On despite the young players he has an older veterans as well as QB Jon Kitna: "I didn't say the quarterback is young. I was talking about young players."

On what younger players he's seen make progress and we're able to help today: "Yeah. Ernie Sims. I think he's had a great year. Daniel Bullocks played very well (and) he's played a lot of football. We got a good opportunity to look at Frank Davis in there today at guard. Jonathan Scott has had a lot of work this year, so I like him."

On if he feels he has the players to turn this team around and become a championship team: "These are pieces. It's all about pieces in a puzzle. Maybe it's not the marquee. But, a lot of times you build your roster from the last 20 players down. So, you have to fill those in. There (are) some good young players that we like: (a) good young guard, a good young tackle (and) I think a good young nose tackle out there tonight - (I) looked at him. So, that's a starting point and you look at it and you work on it. Then you keep working on it and you add to it and you find a couple guys - maybe a free agent - to add to it and then you keep building and you keep practicing football and you keep understanding the system you want."

On the turnovers and penalties at the end of the game and what happened with the teams' strategy at third-and- goal line: "Well, we thought that it was tough to get down there. It's tough sledding against that defense, obviously. You could see that if you know where their ranking is as a defense."

On the fact that they're (Minnesota) ranked No. 1 in rush defense and why he decided to run the ball on third-and-goal and if he considered passing then: "We considered passing on fourth down, which we did. So, I'll finish it up so I can get that for you. Our thinking was: it's tough to get down there into that red zone, within that 5-yard line against a defense like that. So, we're down there, let's go put it in and now we have a chance to force a punt. We were playing pretty good defense in the second half. Get a three-and-out and now have a chance to work down and get a field goal, tie it up and go into overtime."

On how if that didn't work, if they didn't score, the game is over and if they had kicked a field goal they still had the chance to tie the game: "I just felt at that point we could get it in and that's why we went for it."

On if RB Kevin Jones' injury is an ankle or foot: "It's a foot (injury)."

On if it's a different injury than from before: "Yes."

On why he has said that QB Jon Kitna is going to continue to be their starting quarterback indefinitely: "Because I was asked a question and I answered it."

On how he continues week after week to make mistakes: "It's not all his (fault). That's all I can tell you. Watch the tape. Watch it and look at it and we do and we will tomorrow. But, it's not all him."

On if Kitna is basically Teflon: "No, those are your words. Not mine."

On what went into the shuffling of the offensive line: "Well guys went down. (Ross) Verba went down and Blaine (Saipaia) has been hurt, he's been playing with a tough shoulder and he went down. So, Frank (Davis) comes up and (Rick) DeMulling comes up and then (Jeff) Backus went down for a little bit and Jonathan (Scott) went in. That was more necessity than anything. Guys were going down. When Verba went down, Frank had to go."

On if it's fair to say the team is getting worse instead of better: "In certain areas we're not getting better - I'd agree. In certain areas we are (getting better)."

On if he's going to continue being stubborn about Kitna: "I don't know if it's stubborn. It's right. You can use stubborn. I'll use right."

LIONS QB JON KITNA
On being tough to overcome the turnovers: "Yeah, not in this league - not going to happen."

On what the biggest problem was today: "I don't know; we'll have to see on the film. You'd have to ask the coaches. You try to throw the ball to where you think the guy is going to be. Maybe I was wrong but we'll have to see on film."

On how frustrated he is: "About as frustrated as I can get. I just continue to believe that it's going to get better. When you work hard and you do what's asked of you it has to get better. If it's not, then we're doing something wrong."

On if he was surprised that the coaches kept going to him: "No, they look at the whole picture. I'm the quarterback for this football team and it's never what the naked eye sees; it's always more than that. Keep going out there, you keep trusting what you're doing, you keep throwing the ball where you're supposed to throw it and hopefully good things work out for you."

On every team needing a change at some point: "Not at quarterback, not at quarterback; I disagree with that. That's probably why this situation is as bad as it is around here because that's what's happened around here in the past: they just kept changing quarterbacks. That's not that way you handle things in this league. If the quarterback is the problem then you change him. So far they haven't said I'm the problem."

On fourth-and-goal on the 1-yard line, should Detroit have gone for the field goal: "I don't know; that's a coaching decision. You need a touchdown at some point when you're down there on the 1-yard line. It's hard to get down there in this league. You can kick a field goal from the 35-yard line; it's hard to score touchdowns. You put the trust in your guys; that we're going to get it done and we didn't."

On the offensive line and the lack of continuity: "Yeah, we had three starters go out at some point in the game. You can't have that; that's going to be a problem."

On if he felt like a sitting duck without a run game: "No, I don't let myself go into that mindset. I just run the plays that coach calls. I don't ever think that I'm a sitting duck or anything like that. I just continue to go out and try to do what's asked of me. I'm not worried about anything else around me; I just try to do my job."

On how tough that job is without a run game against the Vikings run defense: "Obviously it's a difficult thing but we knew that coming in. It's a good defense, a good defense against the run and when you lose two starters on the offensive line that's going to make it even tougher. We had some good things and we still should have been able to make plays and we didn't."

On where he stands with his play and performance: "Again, I'll have to look at it on film. At quarterback you try to drop back and you try to do what's asked of you and we'll have to see what happened on film. Was it a bad throw or something of that nature; we'll have to see."

On what changes for the last three games: "You'll have to ask Coach Marinelli about that. I'm just a player."

LIONS WR MIKE FURREY
On having lots of catches and yards, but still suffering a 30-20 defeat: "The only thing I'm thinking about is I gave up the fumble there in the third quarter, and that kind of sealed the deal a little bit. It put us pretty far behind and I feel responsible for today."

On what happened on his fumble: "It was a situation where I knew they were in Cover 2, so I tried to shorten my route off so that Jon (Kitna) could throw it in the hole and he did. Everything worked out well, and then it's just a lack of putting the ball away at the end. I had it in my hands, didn't think the corner was there, and the corner ended up cutting Roy (Williams), so he was inside. I've just go to put the ball away."

On how stunned he is to find out that the offense made six turnovers today: "I know Roy and I were talking that third quarter about how we turned the ball over so much, and we're still down by 10 points. But this is football and we're waiting for those things to kind of turn our way, and we'll have to go back to work on Monday. We've got three games left, and we just need to keep pushing. Right now we're working for things for next year, and we need to keep going out playing. Like I said, I feel responsible for what happened today."

On if this loss is more or less disappointing than other losses: "It's just as disappointing as the very first one. We had hopes going into this game. We knew we'd be able to execute pretty good offensively. We just didn't go out and do it and then giving them the first couple of drives of the game, and for us, leaving the defense out on the field for probably nine out of the first 10 minutes of the game is not what we need to do. It just goes back down to the basics and that's executing and those kind of things and we just didn't do that today."

On taking a lot of hard hits today, and if he prides himself on being tough enough to come back from any kind of hit: "I think so. I've had a long road to get into this league and it's going to take more than a hit to keep me down through my journey. I pride myself in getting back up after a hit like that. They're going to celebrate, but when you bounce back up it's kind of like, 'Whoa. I didn't hit him hard enough. I gave him everything I had, but he bounced back up.' It's just one of those things, but the win and loss categories are really the main focus and we just keep coming up short."

LIONS WR ROY WILLIAMS
On QB Jon Kitna having plenty of confidence left and how he feels about that: "The quarterback position didn't do anything today. Not saying he didn't do anything - just saying it's not his fault. It was all of us on the outside. They pressured us on the outside playing us man-to-man and there was nothing anybody could do. None of those interceptions are on him it was just bad play on the outside and I'll take full responsibility today for that."

On if a change at quarterback should have happened today: "No, not at all. If anything, take me out of the ball game. I don't know what was going on, on the outside. We just couldn't make plays in the first half. Even in the third quarter I think we were a little sluggish and then we finally woke up late in the third early in the fourth. You can't do that. They say play hard in the forth quarter and we did today but we didn't play hard in the first three."

On not having any energy and if that come with being a 2-10 team: "Everybody is a competitor and they want to win. When the offense comes out flat it's hard to turn that thing around. Artose Pinner ran the ball hard and when they can run the ball they control the clock. I don't think we got on the field until seven minutes left in the first quarter and that's a good offense; that's what running the football does for you. I don't; know if that's what took us out off the grove - what was that eight minutes, I don't know what it was."

On how it's possible for a 2-10 team to be flat: "It would be different if we came out and was like - everybody knows what kind of offense we have and we can move the ball up and down the field. When we get in the redzone it's a different story - but we can move the ball against anybody. When we get out there and we're not moving the football that's what you call flat. Turnovers - that's flat, that's not being at the right place at the right time or that's the defense making a good play."

On if this team is still getting better: "I think we're still getting better, it's just not coming together on the football field. This team can't go nowhere but up; we're 2-11, tied for the worst record in the league. In reality we're a 2-11 ball club but in my eyes we're not a 2-11 ball club if you understand what I'm saying. I think we're a lot better than a 2-11 team - our record doesn't show it and our play today definitely didn't show it."

LIONS CB JAMAR FLETCHER
On how his interception for a touchdown unfolded: "Basically we had a blitz on, and it was good route recognition - I read the route, I was able to get a good break, got my hands on the ball and that was that."

On if he was that surprised to have that much open field to run: "In those situations you figure you'll see one or two guys maybe close to you, but being that we were down in the redzone I figured I got my hands on it and like I said, it'll be easy for me without too much hassle."

On how much his play today has helped him for the rest of this season and into next season with this coaching staff: "It always helps. First and foremost, it's just about helping your team. My big thing is to always help my team, especially the defense, and the way I do that is make plays. If I continue to do that, I can help this team win."

On Minnesota scoring on three straight drives in the first quarter and what the problem was: "It's kind of hard to pin point it right now - I always like to look at the film before I say anything - but obviously we were missing a lot of tackles. That showed up. Early on in the game you miss a lot of tackles and that's going to haunt you in the end. So we've just got to clean that up."

On despite missing tackles and six turnovers, still having a chance to win the game at the end: "Definitely. Just keep working, keep fighting. This team isn't ever going to stop fighting. We've got a lot of good guys around here, a lot of good players. We're going to get this thing right."

On how disappointing of a loss this is for this team: "A loss is always disappointing. Anytime you lose it's disappointing, no matter the situation or circumstances. No one likes to lose, but like I said we're going to get this thing together and we're going to get rolling."

LIONS DE KALIMBA EDWARDS
On defense what was the biggest problem today:
"We couldn't stop the run. As hard as we practiced and as much as we focused on it all week we didn't go out and execute what we practiced. Coach Henderson called an excellent game but we didn't execute. That's on me as a defensive lineman and us as a defense. All you can do is what you can as an individual and hope that turns out. Obviously the best didn't turn out for us; we lost the game."

On what's the mindset going into the last three games: "The mindset is always the same - to win. Marinelli doesn't ease up. He's not a guy who says: 'ok, we're losing, we're banged up, let's make it easier and cut practice short. No, we're going to practice the same amount of time just as hard and we're going to focus on winning - that's; the mindset."

On if you pack it in: "No we can't pack it in. Our leader hasn't packed it in. Marinelli will never pack it in. That's his mentality - that's just how he is."

On if he's gets frustrated with all of the turnovers the offense made: "No I don't. It gives me another chance to play ball. Understand that the offense may get flustered I don't know. My job is to play defense and if they turn the ball over it's my job to go back out and try to get Kitna the ball back - that's my job."

On if he's tired of talking about losses instead of wins: "Extremely sick and tired but you have to look at yourself as an individual - am I making any plays, am I getting any sacks. You can say how sick and tired you are but if you look at yourself as an individual and say what's my impact on the game and if it's none then how can you be sick and tried. You have to be sick and tired of yourself of not making plays."

LIONS K JASON HANSON
On making 30 career field goals of 50-or-more yards: "It's funny you say that, and I can think of lots of 50-yarders that I should have made, but whatever. I've played a long time, and it feels good to still be hitting them. What I like is that I don't feel that I compromise the team on where we can kick field goals. We can do what we've always done. It all kind of gets lost in what we're doing right now - not winning games. But when I look back, those are the stats I think I'll be proud of."

On if he sees progress with this team: "Yes and no. Yes in that this year's been a terrible record, but we've been fighting hard and I don't care what anybody says - we've been playing a little bit better and there's some signs of life."

VIKINGS HEAD COACH BRAD CHILDRESS
Opening statement:
"Good to get a win. We understand that six of 16 teams make those playoffs in this league and we're just fighting for a chance to have a chance, and that keeps us in the mix. We knew Detroit in our division would put up a fight, yet I thought we jumped them pretty good. I think these guys have responded not in times of comfort and convenience, but with some adversity whether it's (losing) your starting tailback or close losses. They continue to fight on. Six turnovers, 24 points. That defense did a great job turning it to us, obviously you have to do something with it which is something we have not been able to do, and still you'd like some more sevens. Four rushing touchdowns - I thought the offense did a nice job. The offensive line did a nice job with their front, and aside from that one that went the other way, I thought Brad (Johnson) did a nice job of orchestrating that offense. A lot of line of scrimmage checks for him in the gameplan."

On playing RB Artose Pinner the most out of the other three running backs: "We were going to mix it with those three guys, and he had a leading role. Different guys take different looks at different plays, and so he had kind of a menu that we wanted to get him started with and he had a hot hand and kept going. I thought he ran extremely hard down by the goal line."

On if they thought that Pinner gave them the best option: "We thought that he probably had the best chance for success in the run games that we had. It doesn't mean that Ciatrick (Fason) didn't have some opportunities - he had some opportunities as well - but you kind of go with the guy that's got the hot hand."

On if it was based on his running style: "No it was not. All three of those guys - Mewelde (Moore) obviously has his own package and protection, but you have to spread it around. Chester's (Taylor) good in a lot of areas and when you've got three sets of fresh legs, it was good to be able to use them."

On the play of QB Brad Johnson: "I thought he was proficient, besides the one that went the other way. We wish we had that back."

On if he felt like they won by four touchdowns: "I can't say that about any of our games. You never feel like you're going to win by four touchdowns. Those are all in hindsight, of course, but when you're just trying to win by one, you find a way to fight on and have a chance."

On if Pinner playing against his old team played a role in his play today: "He did a nice job, and I thought in the last Detroit game he had two or three carries. You always like to give a great account to yourself at a place that you left, so you have to ask him how much that played in. But you still have to play the game, you have to keep your head on straight and take a good look at those runs. I thought he played a solid football game. Again, he can do a better job of securing the football as well."

On the play of WR Troy Williamson: "He did a good job. I wanted to get a little bit of that speed into play, and share some time with Marcus (Robinson) and Billy (McMullen), and I thought he answered the bell. Those catches were not easy ones, and he's fighting his way back."

VIKINGS QB BRAD JOHNSON
On the play of the team the past few weeks:
"Well, we've won our last two out of three games. I thought we've done some good things. We've had a couple of bad plays here and there that made it look terrible, but all I know is to work, prepare and get ready for the next one. You have a lot of great wins and you only count one when you have a bad loss. It only counts one. The great thing about this team - we haven't given up. We still have hope, and we have a chance. We have to fight for another day, and that's where we are and I'm excited about our opportunity. All I know is to work, prepare and be ready each week. Whatever's said is said, and move on."

On the play of WR Troy Williamson: "The NFL's tough. Nothing's guaranteed, and for different reasons decisions are made. Troy's worked hard in practice, obviously coming off of an inactive week and he gets his opportunity today and has three big catches for us and keeps the drive alive and shows his character and what he wants to accomplish in this league. It was a great day for him."

On if having bad games affects him: "I move on. I don't live with a rearview mirror, and I move on. I've been associated with a lot of good in this league, I've dealt with some bad, I know it comes with the territory as far as being a quarterback, and that's just the deal. That's what you sign up for. That's what makes it so great and that's why there are only 32 starting jobs in the league and that's why I've been fortunate enough to play 15 years. I feel very blessed everytime I step on that field, regardless, and we proved our work today."

On what he thinks this week about his critics: "Very much similar to what I said last week. I don't get caught up in what are other peoples' thoughts. All I know is to work, prepare and move on. I've been fortunate enough to play for seven different head coaches in this league, been fortunate enough to have seven winning records with all different coaches. So obviously, things haven't gone as well as we've wanted them at different times. I feel like I take credit for that responsibility to some degree, but all I know is that we've got a chance. I love coming to work everyday in practice and trying to give our team a chance to win."

VIKINGS RB ARTOSE PINNER
On his play today:
"It was great; there were a lot of firsts today, as far as first three touchdown game, first 100-yard game against a team that I used to play for. But what was more important was that it gives us a good chance to stay in the playoff race."

On if he knew how much he would be used in the offense this week: "I really didn't have an idea of how it was going to go. I know throughout the week, we had a balanced attack plan and it just happened to end up being me rushing the ball as many times as I did."

On getting an opportunity to play more: "This is a game of opportunities and when you get an opportunity like this - it's so weird that it was against my old team - but when you get an opportunity to step up, and when the game's on the line, when you have opportunities to stay in the playoff hunt, you have to make plays on this level. This is a 'what have you done for me lately' league, and to take advantage of an opportunity when Chester's (Taylor) down, and just keep us in the hunt, I feel great about it."

On his running style: "I was never one of those backs who you give me five or six carries and that was it and then I go for 130 yards. That's never been me. Just having a day where I was able to touch the ball over 20 times and make plays, that's all I've ever asked for. Having an opportunity to do it here just made it that much sweeter."

On playing in Detroit: "I think because I know, realistically, when I was here I did all I could do. If I lived to regret, and felt like when I left here, 'Oh man, maybe if I would have did this or did that?' then maybe it could have been. But I knew when I was here I woke up early in the morning, first one in, last one to leave. I left here knowing I did all I could do. When Coach Childress brought me to Minnesota he looked me in the face and was like, 'I want you to help contribute to this team in someway, somehow.' If you look at the film, or if you look at the game today - I was inactive the last three or four weeks - I was on everything today. I wasn't going to let any opportunities pass me by. Kickoffs, punts, kickoff coverage - I was on everything."

On the play of his defensive line: "Oh man, those guys are something else. Big Pat Williams and Kevin Williams - those guys are something special. I had opportunities to run against them on scout team the last couple of weeks, and I'm glad I don't have to do that anymore."

On if he knew what the offensive gameplan was going to be for this week: "No, it was all up in the air. Wednesdays we do the run game and base protections, and Thursdays we do nickel protections and things like that, and you just never know how things are going to end up."

On if he knew he was preparing himself this week to play a lot: "You always have to be prepared for anything. I did know Chester wasn't going to play today. Somebody had to step up, and the thing is we didn't take advantage of a lot of things today. We left some points out there today. The offense didn't execute on some situations, but the defense did a great job and it was great to take some heat off of Brad (Johnson). The offense, we made plays when we had to."

VIKINGS S DARREN SHARPER
On what it is they need to improve on:
"We've got to get better at finishing - that's the main thing. It's going to come. You know, as we continue to turn the ball over, we know that we have to get better at that."

On how well the offense was able to play: "It changes how you play the defense. You're able to play a little freer and be more aggressive. You saw that in how we created the turnovers."

On where he see's his team playoff wise: "We've got to keep winning. If we keep winning we have got a chance. I truly believe that if we win these next (three), we'll be in."

On how big that goal line decision was for the Lions not to kick a field goal: "You know, they had nothing to lose, so you wouldn't be surprised for them to go for it. Dwight (Smith) made a heck of a play on fourth down. That was a good stop for us. That was the pretty much the changing point in the game."

On his interception: "They call me the king of padding stats at the end of the game. I got a lot of them. So, I'm glad to kind of steal the game. You know, the more I get opportunities for them to throw the ball at me, the more plays I can make. That's just the thing. If I can get them to throw them at me, I can make more plays like that."

Courtesy of the Lions

Courtesy of the Lions

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