Ben Leber And The Vikings: “We put so much into the season, and we invested so much emotionally and physically that something like this should hurt for a little bit.”

January 26, 2010 – 4:45 am by Michael Bean

Ouch. What a way to lose. The Minnesota Vikings had every opportunity in the world to knock off the New Orleans Saints on Sunday in the NFC Championship Game played at the Superdome. Both teams started out hot on offense before the defenses dug in their heels and began to make plays as the game progressed. The Vikings defense certainly did their part – they held Drew Brees under 200 yards passing and limited the Saints rushing attack to a very pedestrian 68 yards all game. Five Vikings turnovers on offense though did them in ultimately. It could be argued though that despite the cornucopia of errors – which the Vikings can blame no one but themselves for – Minnesota still might have won had the officials not made several crucial calls in New Orleans’s favor, particularly in overtime on the Saints game-winning drive. The most egregious one, in my opinion, was the pass interference call on Ben Leber in overtime with the Saints on the Minnesota 41. Brees’ pass was well over the head of David Thomas, who appeared to have inadvertently locked feet with linebacker Ben Leber along the left sideline. Anyway, it was a great game that definitely lived up to the hype. I won’t comment on Brett Favre because the media will do plenty of that all spring and summer. Leber, who played outstanding all game, joined KFAN in Minneapolis for his usual Monday appearance on the Dan Barreiro show to talk about the

On how long it’s going to take for him to get over the tough loss to the Saints:

“It’s going to take awhile. I think for everybody, we’re just now coming out of a fog and the realization of what’s going on. We had our exit meetings and that’s really the nail in the coffin as far as the season. It’s like wow, it’s really over. It’s going to take a couple weeks, but everybody will pick themselves back up and be excited about next year.”

On what Coach Childress’ message was to the team following the heartbreaking loss:

“He definitely addressed the team and basically let us know how appreciative he was of everybody’s hard work and everything we accomplished this year. Hit thing was don’t lose sight of what we have accomplished, and what kind of team we are, and all the things we can look forward to next year. So it was a good meeting, it was a good speech, and I’m sure guys are going to take it to heart and be energized for next year.”

On the play of the defense and if he’s proud of the way they limited the Saints’ effectiveness on offense:

“Well it’s hard to sit there and say we can be really proud of our defense and the way we played in the fact that we gave up too many points and albeit it’s a good offense, we feel we’re a great defense, but we’d love to take back some run plays, some things here and there that we wish we could take back. So, you know, we played decent, I don’t think anybody’s super excited about the way we played.”

On the pass interference call that went against him in overtime:

“Well I’m still really just kind of baffled about where they got the pass interference call and I don’t think I physically interfered with him while the ball was in the air. And outside of that, to me the ball was overthrown, it was un-catchable, and at that point, there can’t be pass interference. So obviously, for me, it’s something I have to deal with but my perspective is different than theirs so I have to live with it.”

On if he had a chance to lobby to the officials that the pass to Thomas was way over his head and not catchable, which actually happens to be one of the few instances where refs will overturn their initial decision:

“No, I didn’t. It really didn’t seem like they wanted to hear anything. They just went right away and started having a meeting with themselves. I don’t think they really wanted to hear what we had to say, so I still think it’s un-catchable, but like I said, it’s their call.”

On if it’s tougher to think about the positives of the season considering they made so many mistakes in a game they still had a chance to win:

“Well it’s certainly hard to. I think everybody’s going to take heed to what Coach said, but you can’t deny the fact that everybody’s going to feel the pain of this loss for a little while. I think he was trying to say, when you do pick yourself up and you do let this loss kind of longer and you get over it, these are the things we need to focus on and look at the bigger picture. So I think having this loss hurt and hurt a little bit is actually going to be good fuel for next year. And it should hurt. We put so much in to the season, and we invested so much emotionally and physically that something like this should hurt for a little bit. But we do have to pick ourselves up.”

Listen here to Leber with Dan Barreiro on KFAN in Minneapolis (22:40 into podcast)

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