Referees Were Part of the Vikings’ Problem vs Browns

Photo: Brace Hemmelgarn – USA TODAY Sports

Nobody likes the guy who blames a football loss on the referees. Most times, refs aren’t the driving factor for who wins or loses a game. That was true Sunday too, when the Cleveland Browns triumphed 14-7 over the Minnesota Vikings at US Bank Stadium.

Minnesota’s biggest problem this afternoon was their offensive line’s inability to block the Browns’ four-man pass rush or keep them out of the backfield on run plays. Mike Zimmer’s ‘bend but don’t break’ defense allowing Kevin Stefanski’s offense to rush for 184 yards and eat up 35 minutes of game clock didn’t help either. There’s also some poor clock management and even worse play-calling that should get plenty of blame.

Sometimes though, referees deserve their fair share of blame too. Especially when they gift points to one team and keep them off the scoreboard for the other. Eric Kendricks was called for a defensive hold on a 3rd-down stop that would have forced a field goal in the 2nd quarter. A few plays later, Cleveland scored a touchdown.

No-Call PI’s vs Adam Thielen

When only 21 total points are scored in a football game, these penalty calls are a big deal. So are no-calls, which helped cost the Vikings a win vs Cleveland. Adam Thielen knows what I’m talking about. Two late pass interference penalties vs the Mankato State kid were missed today. If they have been called, he and his hometown team would’ve had a much better chance at victory.

The first was more subtle and Thielen hurt himself by not selling the PI better. Watch the video below. If he falls over after the initial bump and sells the penalty better, referees would’ve been forced to throw the flag. With the ball in flight and Adam clearly tracking it, Greedy Williams bumps Thielen while turning to find the ball and clearly blocks Adam’s path.

Thielen takes the subtle contact and tries to work around Greedy’s backside but his effort to go behind Williams, instead of through him, cost the Vikings a bunch of penalty yards.

The second no-call came on the last play of the game, in more of a hail mary attempt by Kirk Cousins. This one was much more obvious and has many Minnesota Vikings fans much more pissed off. Watch Thielen get completely blocked from going after this football. This might be legal if he were a defensive lineman trying to rush the passer and Greedy Williams was an o-lineman in protection…

Anyway, the refs sucked just as much as the Minnesota Vikings did on Sunday. I’ll hang-up now and listen.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan