Pat Williams on the mend, helping defense

Nose tackle Pat Williams said his elbow is feeling better, and he nearly helped the rush defense reclaim the top ranking in the league. Williams talked about the title for the rushing defense being gone, how his elbow feels and his true feelings about the Metrodome.

Pat Williams returned to the lineup on Sunday and helped the Vikings defense nearly overtake the top rushing title once again.

Williams, who sat out the previous game against Chicago and the final nine minutes of the Carolina Panthers game with an elbow injury, said he felt much better in that contest and it showed. The Vikings moved from fourth to second in rushing defense by holding the Giants to 35 yards rushing in the season finale.

The Vikings had finished with the No. 1 rushing defense in the league the previous three seasons, the longest streak since at least the 1970s, but Williams called the second-place ranking "pretty good."

"It's tough to see it end, but that's all good. It's like we didn't want to be no four or no five. We're two, so that's pretty good. First, first, first, two," Williams said.

"I don't think anybody's going to break it, so we've got the record. So it'll be our record. But we're going to try to start it over."

Williams admitted that his elbow was a factor in the Panthers game on Dec. 20. He hurt it early and Carolina backup running back Jonathan Stewart ended up rushing for 109 yards on 25 carries, becoming the first running back in 37 games go over 100 yards against the Vikings.

"I had tweaked it early in the game and it was killing me in the game, hurting real bad," Williams said. "… Every time I hit it, it hurt so I wasn't able to push off. So coach just told me to get out of there."

While many players were taking advantage of the Vikings' week off and returning to warmer climes, Williams is staying in Minnesota to receive treatment for his elbow in preparation for their first playoff game on Jan. 17.

Williams said he played about 18 snaps on Sunday against the Giants, who only had 43 offensive snaps in a 44-7 rout by the Vikings.

NOT-SO-SWEET DOME

The Vikings finished the season 8-0 at the Metrodome and were a different team there than they were on the road. Fortunately for them, they will play at least their first playoff game at home. Williams attributed that success to the energy of the fans in the Metrodome.

"All the energy that be in that dome, we got extra energy. We got all our energy and the fans give us the extra boost in there," he said. "They can be bad for us sometimes and they can be good for us sometimes. That's our fans though."

"I've played in almost all the stadiums in the NFL, and I think ours is the loudest out of everybody else."

However, Williams isn't pushing for the Vikings to extend their lease in the Metrodome. In fact, the team might want to consider using him to talk to politicians who might wonder if the Vikings really need a new stadium. While the front office is a bit more politically correct in their assessment of the Metrodome as an NFL stadium, Williams leaves no doubt how he feels about it.

"I don't think that Dome will work. It's a loud stadium, but it's a raggedy-ass stadium," he said. "You've seen that locker room. We're right on top of each other. It's like a high school room. I've seen high school rooms better than that. That ain't going to help. We've got to get out of there."

Williams said the improvements owner Zygi Wilf made to the team's Winter Park practice facility shortly after he bought the team helped with that facility.

"You saw this (Winter Park) locker room when I first signed here. Y'all saw this locker room. It's a whole improvement right here," he said. "I almost changed my mind when I saw this locker room when I came out here before I signed. I was like, 'What the? This is the NFL? This locker room?' Naw. They need some improvements, man."


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