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All-Access with Bruce Arians: Fortunate to beat Vikings, enjoy some rest

Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians, right, walks away after talking with Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer prior to an NFL football game, Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians, now in his third year with the team, meets with the media the day after every game.

In this space, we will highlight some of what Arians had to say, and Friday he talked about his team after it knocked off the Minnesota Vikings 23-20 Thursday night. The win improved Arizona’s record to 11-2 on the season clinched the team’s second playoff berth in as many seasons.

He started with an opening statement:

“After watching the tape, there are a lot of good things to correct. We were very fortunate in winning the ball game, with the way we played, especially in the fourth quarter. But we did and we’ll have some good corrections on Tuesday. The guys that I thought played extremely well were Carson (Palmer), offensively. The receivers blocked well. We got lucky on Mike’s (Floyd) touchdown because he actually ran the wrong route. After watching the film, Smokey (John Brown) got hurt, he jumped in at a different position and he thought he knew what to do and didn’t. He ran Larry’s (Fitzgerald) route and they were standing over there together, and neither one of them were covered, thank God. It was kind of that type of ball game. Defensively, we did what we wanted to do. I think we got a little over-aggressive with stopping Adrian (Peterson) and lost sight of our assignments, sometimes in the passing game. We wanted to make Teddy (Bridgewater) beat us and he almost did. Hat’s off to him. He had a hell of a ball game.”

On whether he’s concerned with the route-running mistakes being made at this point in the season:

“No. Just because a guy gets hurt and he just jumps in because he thought he knew what to play. Jaron Brown usually plays that position, but he was in on that formation running a different route. Mike (Floyd) just jumped in and he thought he was getting the ball. He ran the right route the wrong way.”

On how the team came out of the game injury-wise:

“Very clean. Britt Golden is going through the protocol, but he seems fine today. But he’ll go through the protocol. Everyone else was just normal bumps and bruises from the game. Hopefully, we’ll have Frostee (Rucker) and Jerraud (Powers) and Jermaine (Gresham) get some reps late next week.”

On whether David Johnson suffered any injuries:

“He’s got a thigh bruise.”

On Calais Campbell’s performance against the Vikings:

“Calais played the way he’s supposed to play. That’s what I expect every week. He had some tackles for loss. He had a sack. That’s what he’s supposed to do. That’s what he gets paid to do. So, do I think it’s a good game? No. It’s the way he’s supposed to play. Finally.”

On how he evaluates the defense against Adrian Peterson after Minnesota’s first drive:

“Oh, it was outstanding. Like I said, we keyed too much on him, I thought, and left open the bootlegs and some play action stuff. But I thought his last 19 carries were 30-something yards, after we settled down and didn’t try to do too much. The first drive, was like we never practiced.”

On whether he has any concern with Arizona’s short-yardage and goal line offense:

“Yeah, this showed up two or three times now. The goal line situation, we didn’t block it correctly. Then we totally blew an assignment on the sack and we’re wide open. The short-yardage play was just not blocked well enough at the point of attack. Kerwynn (Williams), he hit it up in there as hard as he could, but it wasn’t good enough.”

On if the sack on the 2-yard line was on Jared Veldheer or Troy Niklas:

“Jared. Troy was going out for a pass.”

On whether the biggest part about this time of year is finding things to get on the players about:

“Well, you’d like to not have to get on it so much. You appreciate winning the most and then there’s always time to correct, and it’s a lot easier correcting when you win. The games that we’re playing now, Philly’s in first place, Green Bay’s in first place, Seattle’s chasing us. So, as far as getting ready to play, that’s not an issue. It’s just getting ready to play good.”

On what this extra time between games means for the team:

“It’s the best part. Now that it’s over, it’s the best part. We get another open date. Like I said, we should get three guys back, hopefully, for the next game, and should get some very good rest.”

On the possibility of Andre Ellington playing next week:

“Yeah. It’s a pain tolerance issue, when he cuts.”

On if David Johnson will stay the starter when Andre Ellington returns:

“We’ll wait and see what speed he comes back at.”

On the story behind him being able to wear the hat last night:

“There’s no story. I just wore it. We had our check presentation. That hat had a lot to do with raising that money. We’re very happy to do it, and you can go online and bid for it.”

On how many hats are available:

“Just that one.”

On if that was a one-time thing or he will wear it again:

“No, that was a one-time thing, because of the check presentation and trying to raise some awareness.”

On if it was cleared by the league:

“No.”

On how clinching a playoff spot changes things:

“It doesn’t really. We’re in the dance. Somebody texted me ‘hey, you punched your ticket.’ I said, ‘yeah, we’re trying to upgrade to first class.’ It’s nice to be in it, but it’s no fun going on the road, that’s for sure.”

On how close or far away the team is to being rolling going into the playoffs:

“I don’t think we could get much better than winning seven in a row, but we can play better. Just continue to strive to get better. We’ve been having really good practices. We will probably go back out in pads one more time this week, with the extra day, and work on some fundamentals, especially with some younger players.”

On what it says about the team that they’ve won several games lately that could have gone the other way:

“I think we learned our lessons in September. Losing the two games the way we lost them, we figured out – the way we were last year, we won all those close games. Like I said, you find your identity as you go through, and I think now there’s a belief that we’ll win these types of games.”

On giving up two-score leads in four of the last five games and if there’s a common theme to that:

“I put most of it on the offense. The short-yardage play was a three-and-out after a score. That just can’t happen with our offense. We needed to answer that score with a score, and put our defense right back out there. So I think it’s on them. Defensively, if there’s a common thread, it’s getting off the field on third down.”

On if he’s at the point now where he expects Chandler Catanzaro to make those high-pressure kicks:

“Oh yeah. The day we gave him the job, I expected him to hit those kicks.”

On if correcting the mistakes is just as simple as working:

“Yeah it’s just a matter of learning. The missed tackles were the highest it’s been all season, but that’s the best back we’ve played in a while. But, we also missed some tackles on tight ends that we haven’t been missing. And, penalties were up on defense, which we have had no penalties on defense the last couple weeks. So, easily, things to be corrected.”

On if Teddy Bridgewater had their defensive backs confused:

“It wasn’t as much as he is – their eyes were on Adrian (Peterson), instead of where they’re supposed to be.”

On if the guys who hadn’t played Adrian Peterson before needed that first series to see what to expect from him:

“I think we were, like most young guys, some of them were awestruck. You hear about the guy, and then all of a sudden you see him and you miss a tackle, and then you try to do too much. That’s the common thread with our defense. If we give up a play, then guys try to do too much to stop them instead of just doing your job.”

On if they are seeing teams play more Cover 2:

“See a ton of it, just the type of teams we’ve been playing are bend-not-break type styles, and not give us the big plays.”

On if David Johnson has shown what he was hoping to see with his increased role:

“Oh yeah. He needed to do a better job; this was the first time he did not look good on blitz pickup. He had a safety that he got confused a little bit and did not pick him up very well. That’s the first one, but other than that he’s been playing well.”

On why Patrick Peterson is flying under the radar despite having the type of season he is:

“Because of statistics. You shut a guy out, so you don’t get any interceptions. But, there’s no one in the league playing at his level at corner.”

On whether he runs out of things to say about Tyrann Mathieu’s performances:

“Yeah, I think he can still be better, you know? He has a tendency, in man coverage, to look at the quarterback; trying to get an interception instead of covering his daggone guy.”

On Sean Weatherspoon and Alani Fua’s play last night:

“They did very well. Alani’s getting better and better. He’s been a really good special teams player for us. With his size, length and speed, we’re trying to get him into nickel situations. Sean has done a heck of a job in that situation, also. Just don’t dislocate your finger and run off the field so there are 12 guys on the field. That was a dumb penalty. Just kneel down. He freaked out when he saw his finger pointing in the wrong direction.”

On the grind of playing two games in five days:

“It’s extremely, extremely hard physically and mentally on the guys. That’s why it’s so nice to have the break now. It’s hard to put into words, what their bodies go through in that time. You’re normally off on Monday and Tuesday. Then you’re practicing. It’s very hard.”

On whether the team will return to practice this upcoming Tuesday:

“Yeah, we’ll come back Tuesday for our bonus day.”

On whether he’s figured out how to get opponents to miss a field goal:

“Block one. We’ve gotten close, but we’ve still got to do a better job up the middle.”

On Justin Bethel playing well at cornerback:

“Yeah, he’s played really well. Really well.”

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