QB Shaun King knows that the Vikings will try to bring added pressure on him
Tampa Bay Buccaneer quarterback Shaun King, now in just his second NFL season, has started exactly 10 regular-season contests. So it's a somewhat unusual fact that Monday's game at Minnesota is actually a familiar scenario for him.
King's first NFL action came at Seattle last November, when he relieved the injured Trent Dilfer and led the Bucs to victory. His first start, however, was the following week.
On Monday Night Football. Against the Vikings. With just about everything at stake.
King and the Buccaneers won that game last December, 24-17, and went on to outlast the Vikings for the NFC Central title. King was lauded from inside and outside the organization for his unusual poise in the face of such a crucial contest.
He will need that poise again this Monday, when the Buccaneers and Vikings square off in prime time again. The Vikings are 4-0 and could take a commanding lead in the 2000 division race if they can send the Buccaneers to 3-3 with a victory. King, who three weeks ago helped Tampa Bay silence the usually noisy crowd in Detroit's Silverdome, will face another ear-splitting venue in the Metrodome on Monday.
Things were quieter on Sunday after the team arrived at their Minneapolis hotel to prepare for Monday's game. That allowed us a few words with King, who covered some of the key topics concerning the Bucs' hope to upend the Vikings.
On reviving the Buccaneers' offense to its early-season form: "We just have to play consistently. Everyone talks about changing this and changing that. We ran the same plays in the first three games that we ran in the last two. We just haven't been hitting our shots. But we're real hungry."
On the Vikings' defensive approach: "They're going to bring pressure and try to make you make mistakes. But they're also going to give you your shots. We have to stay poised and take advantage of those opportunities."
On the difference in the Bucs' offense between now and when they last met Minnesota: "We're more aggressive now. We're still a running team – and, with Mike (Alstott) and Warrick (Dunn), you can't argue with that – but we're more aggressive in our passing game. We take our chances and make our opponents think about the big play."
On which receiver will likely be the key target: "I think we have a chance to make plays on both sides. I think they're there for us to take. We're keying on number 24 (S Robert Griffith). He's the one that makes all the plays."
On whether the Bucs will use a silent snap count: "We'll do it when we're in the (shot)gun. When I'm under center, we won't do it. If we can get up early, then hopefully we won't need it much."