On Friday, Griffen was struggling with sickness with his answers short besides vowing to play on Sunday. On Monday, he was full of energy, feeling fresher physically and recharged emotionally after a 34-6 win that yielded his first game with sacks on consecutive plays.
The Vikings won in resounding fashion, 34-6, thanks in large part to a defense that came at the St. Louis Rams relentlessly, getting five sacks – two by Griffen – eight quarterback hits and seven tackles for losses.
“Any team is going to get frustrated. You could tell (the Rams were) and that’s when you’ve got to put your foot in their throats and keep on working them and keep on beating them down to win the game,” Griffen said. “It’s all about finishing. You can’t come out in the first quarter and then go to crap in the fourth quarter. You’ve got to finish them throughout four quarters, 60 minutes of football. That’s how you win games. That’s how you become great.”
Griffen has had three sacks in a game before, but never back-to-back sacks. He said his success was due to sheer determination.
“The thing is, when you pass rush, and seriously pass rush is one of the hardest things to do in the NFL,” he said. “It’s hard because you don’t know what kind of quarterback you’re going to go against – a quick passer, a guy that’s checking the ball down. But most of the time you can beat the guy – you can beat the guy clear or win on the first move – but most of the time you’re going to beat him, you’re going to get there on the second move. That’s why you say you never quit rushing. You keep rushing the passer and never quit rushing.”
Griffen finished his first game as a full-time starter with a full stat sheet. In addition to the two sacks, he had three tackles, two for a loss, and two quarterback hits.
But he was also showing off his freakish speed for a defensive end by leading safety Harrison Smith into the end zone on his 81-yard touchdown return and throwing the final block that allowed Smith to slow his pace and move methodically into the end zone.
And then it was time for Griffen to go into cheerleader mode.
“I said, beep- beep-beep, beep-beep-beep,” he said in day-after self-censorship mode. “But you know what he called it? He called it a full escort service. He said he just waited behind me. He was like, ‘Oh, yeah, I’m in there no matter what.’ It was a great pick by him. It was just fun, man. We’ve just got to keep this feeling going and keep on winning and everything is going to work out.”
Despite still not being at full strength because of his illness that he said would take about a week from which to fully recover, he wasn’t going to let an earlier opportunity to celebrate go, either.
When Cordarrelle Patterson took a pitch and ran 67 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter, there was Griffen again celebrating with him on the sideline … and later censoring himself again.
“I said, ‘Beep-beep, beep-beep-beep. Let’s go! Beep-beep-beep.’ That’s what I told him. It was a lot of bleeps in there, but you know what that means. But it was awesome, man,” Griffen said. “When a guy makes a big play, it’s all a celebration. That’s how you spread the love, the joy, the fun. Winning is contagious. It was, ‘Beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep’ and I just kept on going on, but it was awesome, man.”
The Vikings defense was a bit depleted by the end of the game.
CB Josh Robinson was out with what appeared to be a leg injury, but head coach Mike Zimmer said he will be fine.
CB Xavier Rhodes is being termed as day-to-day with a groin injury, as is DT Sharrif Floyd with a shoulder injury.
LB Michael Mauti is expected to practice after missing time last week and Sunday’s game with a foot injury, and so is FB Zach Line, who had an ankle injury.
LB Brandon Watts (knee) could miss another game.
HAPPY TO HAVE FUSCO
Getting RG Brandon Fusco signed to a five-year, $25 million contract extension puts the starting offensive line under contract through at least 2015.
In addition to Fusco, RT Phil Loadholt is signed through 2016, LT Matt Kalil through 2015, center John Sullivan through 2016 and RG Charlie Johnson through 2015.
“He’s got a lot of toughness. He plays every week,” Zimmer said of Fusco. “He’s got physicality in the running game. He’s smart. He does a good job in protections. When the fans don’t know some of the offensive linemen, that’s a good thing because they’re doing their job all the time. That’s one thing that Brandon always does is he does his job, he gets his job done. We’re very, very excited to have him for five more years.”
“He made a great play on the screen, took out two blockers and made the tackle one time,” Zimmer said. “There was one play that we didn’t fit exactly right. He was on the backside, he accelerated and went over and made the tackle on the back. Obviously the play that we intercepted the pass was pretty nice, too. He’s going to keep having those splash plays, and he’s going to continue to get better.”
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.