Jarius Wright couldn't sleep, but reviews generally good on Vikings' London voyage
LONDON — So much for the sleep specialists the Vikings brought in to provide advice.
Wide receiver Jarius Wright had been looking forward to going to London. But after Sunday's 33-16 win over Cleveland at Twickenham Stadium, he admitted it didn't quite go as well as expected.
"It was cool, but I didn't really get to sleep here in London,'' Wright said. "The time (difference of six hours) really messed me up. It messed me up big time.''
The Vikings left Wednesday and arrived Thursday morning. The week before, the Vikings had brought in sleep specialists to provide tips to the players.
"I did (listen), but it didn't work,'' said Wright, who didn't catch a pass Sunday while being targeted just once.
So what was Wright doing when he couldn't sleep?
"Just looking at my phone the whole time,'' he said
Reviews were better from most of the other players about the trip. Defensive end Everson Griffen enjoyed the atmosphere.
"When you're driving up on a bus, you see fans everywhere with different (NFL) jerseys, and it just shows how much they appreciate football in the U.K.," Griffen said. "It shows that we can have fans around the world.''
Still, Griffen said he doesn't see an NFL team ever coming to London.
Defensive tackle Linval Joseph said a highlight was simply hearing the locals talk.
"Just listen to everybody's accent, you know, it's great,'' Joseph said.
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said his players conducted themselves well overseas. He pointed to what he heard at the team hotel.
"It really was an amazing few days that we had here,'' Zimmer said. "Just going to brag on my players for a minute. Over at the hotel that we stayed at, (there were) four teams stay there (this season).
"And they came up to me and said, 'This is the best, most well-mannered group they have ever had. They sit together, they eat together, they hang out together, say please and thank you.' So that made me feel good. And they won (Sunday), so that made me feel better.''
Celebrating Viking style
After Vikings running back Jerick McKinnon scored a key touchdown , tight end Blake Bell approached him ready to celebrate.
What McKinnon did then, Blake wasn't so sure.
"You might have to ask him,'' Bell said. "I just went up to congratulate him and he starting doing his deal.''
McKinnon's 1-yard touchdown run and 2-point conversion run late in the third quarter had put Minnesota up for good at 23-16. After the TD, with Bell, tight end David Morgan and fullback C.J. Ham looking on, McKinnon sat down and looked as if he were driving a car.
"Yep,'' McKinnon said. "A Bentley preferably because (defensive end Everson Griffen's) got a Bentley, so I like Bentleys. But I was driving fast, so it might be a Lamborghini. I had to just put it in drive, and hop in the car and drive.''
McKinnon was pretending to shift gears with his right hand. In England, the left hand is used to shift.
"I had my car shipped from the States,'' McKinnon said.
However he chose to celebrate, McKinnon earned it. He led the Vikings with 50 yards rushing on 14 carries and caught six passes for 72 yards.
McKinnon gave plenty of credit to quarterback Case Keenum for finding him with screen passes.
"Just Case's ability to extend plays and scramble around and he just found me on a couple passes and we were able to get chunks out of that,'' McKinnon said. "The guy's for real, and you can see it the way he plays, the energy and helping us work some wins.''
On his touchdown, McKinnon ran around left end. He went up the middle on his 2-point conversion but didn't have a second celebration for that one.
If McKinnon's car-driving skit got mixed reviews, he was fine with that. He admitted Adam Thielen's soccer slide after a touchdown in the second quarter was better.
"Thielen's was because he had some distance on his slide,'' McKinnon said. "He didn't get stuck. He didn't mess it up.''
Rookies step up again
For the second consecutive week, the Vikings had to rely on two inexperienced offensive linemen. Once again, they came through.
Despite having practiced throughout the week, left guard Nick Easton (calf) sat out for the third straight game in Sunday's win. He was replaced by rookie Danny Isidora, who got his first NFL start.
On the first series of the game, Vikings right tackle Mike Remmers was lost for the game with a concussion. Filling in the rest of the way was second-year man Rashod Hill.
In a 24-16 win over Baltimore on Oct. 22, Easton had been replaced by Jeremiah Sirles, who suffered a knee injury and gave way in the second half to Isidora. Sirles was out Sunday.
Against the Ravens, left tackle Riley Reiff was lost in the second half with a knee injury and replaced by Hill. Reiff was able to return Sunday.
"That's hard,'' right guard Joe Berger said of Remmers' injury. "Me and Remmers obviously are close. I enjoy being able to play next to him, and it's hard to see him (hurt). But Rashod stepped in and played well. ... I think both (Hill and Isidora) came in and did well.''
The Vikings got back wide receiver Stefon Diggs (groin) after he had missed two games and receiver Michael Floyd (hamstring) and cornerback Mackensie Alexander (hip) after each had sat out one game. Diggs caught four passes for 27 yards.
"It felt good,'' Diggs said. "I wanted to be with my teammates. I missed my teammates, being out there grinding with them. I feel great.''
Floyd, who had one catch for 7 yards, said his hamstring "felt good.'' He has just three receptions for 31 yards in three games since returning from a four-game NFL suspension to start the season.
When Sunday's game ended, it looked as if defensive end Everson Griffen might have gotten hurt because he sat on the ground and took his shoe and sock off. He shrugged that off, saying, "Everything's good.''