Why do you love third and 16 so much?
“It’s the exact situation we were looking for. [Laugh] To convert two of those the way we did, it was pretty incredible. A lot of good execution, guys up front blocking them for as long as they needed to and then, obviously, guys just making plays down the field.”
Walk us through each of them.
“Yeah, so the one to [WR Kendrick Bourne] KB, just felt the linebackers, they got a ton of depth and everything. We had a couple different options on it, saw a little window in there and didn’t know if I was going to have any other windows. So, I just let it rip and KB made a great, came back to the ball, perfect timing and everything. He just made a great play on it. Then the one to [WR] Emmanuel [Sanders], safeties were high and wide. They got a little too wide and I knew we had a post on, so just wanted to give him an opportunity. My arm got hit as I threw it, so I got a little nervous, but he just made a great play. It was awesome.”
What’s the key to maintain your confidence after getting off to a sluggish start offensively in that second half?
“We just had to stay the course, really. It wasn’t like they were doing anything to really take away what we were trying to do, we were just killing ourselves. Everyone just kind of calmed down on the sideline, we got back on track and it was just putting together a good drive, one play after another. That’s really what it was.”
How gratifying for you, though, was it to get those big third down plays? You guys struggled the whole game on third down conversions.
“Yeah, especially in the situation that we were in. You don’t want to be in that situation, but the way we converted, it was huge.”
Kendrick said you had told him to cut his route a little earlier because of the pressure coming on. How often do you guys make those sort of adjustments?
“Those are kind of in-game adjustments, just kind of when you’re feeling the game out, I guess. Yeah, KB’s real cool with all that stuff. He adjusts well on the fly, he’s willing to do all that stuff. It’s nice to have a guy like that.”
Considering how many times you were hit today, how do you find the confidence to stand there and third and 16, kind of in a long developing play to hit Emmanuel down field? Where do you find that confidence?
“Those guys up front, they battle their ass off every game. I owe it to those guys. They played a great game today. It was a dog fight up front. That’s a great D-line and they challenged us. Those guys up front for us just battled their asses off and I love those guys.”
Were you able to talk to QB C.J. Beathard at all this morning or contact him?
“I shot him a text. I’m sure he’s going through a ton of stuff, I can’t even imagine. I think everyone in the locker room feels the same way for him. I can’t even comprehend the situation. Everyone’s got his back. We love him.”
How do you determine when you’re going to take off? It seemed like you started using your legs more when you got out of the pocket. What is the determination of when you choose to use your legs?
“I don’t want to. I would rather pass, but when a play breaks down or say they pick the right coverage and get us, sometimes that stuff happens. I think just being able to convert some of the first downs that way makes defenses look at you a little differently. It’s not the way we intended it, but it’s always a good thing.”
Is there a reason why you don’t want to? It seemed like you look pretty good at running.
“I’m decent at passing.”
Take us through the touchdown to TE George Kittle and what happened specifically after it seemed like they took him away with two guys from the jump?
“That was kind of the red zone plan from the get go, just take George away. He just kept working, broke the pocket and those plays, it’s just kind of a happening. You never know what’s going to happen, but George just, he had a feel for the space, came downhill and got a touchdown.”
How much are you looking forward to next week’s start in Seattle? I think it’s your first career start there and especially with everything that’s at stake.
“Yeah, it’ll be cool. Try to enjoy this one for the night and move on. Got an extra day this week, so that’ll be big for us. Every game from here on out is big.”
When you take as many hits as you took tonight, what’s the frustration level at that point in the game getting sacked like that?
“It’s not frustration. There’s a million different things. I was holding the ball too long on some of those, so just got to get the ball out on time. You’ve got to stick to the plan, stay the course. You’re going to hit some ups and downs and that’s kind of what we went through this game. I think guys just stayed mentally tough, stayed right in the middle and it proved well for us in the end there.”
Is there a sense that to win a game the way you guys did it with the two third and 16’s and such a situation like that that it’s even more fun than winning a game in a conventional way?
“It’s fun if you win it, yeah. We don’t intend for those situations, but just the way it happened and everything, guys battling, defense making huge plays, it was a real complimentary football game today. I know I’ve said that before, but today we showed it more than ever. We can win in different ways. [LB] Fred [Warner] having a huge pick-six, defense playing great, special teams making big plays. It was all that tied together and it made for a fun night.”
At Seattle has been a pretty significant place for this franchise, especially in recent memory. What are you expecting that to be like? It’s going to be your first time, it’s going to have a lot of meaning, a lot on the line. What’s that going to be like for you, you think?
“Oh yeah. It’s going to be loud. We know it’s going to be a hostile environment. I can’t wait for it. It’s going to be awesome. It’s going to be a great challenge for us. All these games, it seems like every week is a big game and this time of year, they all are. We’ll go in there with the right mindset, prepare for these guys and make it happen.”