FOXBORO, MASS. — Adam Thielen wasn’t a happy camper Sunday night at Gillette Stadium.
During the fourth quarter of the New England Patriots’ 24-10 victory over the Minnesota Vikings, Thielen got into a heated exchange with Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. At the time, it was unclear why the Vikings wideout was so upset, but FOX cameras did catch Belichick shouting some unpleasantries (like, ‘shut the f–k up’ kind of unpleasantries) toward Thielen.
So, what was going on?
Vikings running back Latavius Murray picked up a first down on 4th-and-one with under nine minutes left and his team trailing by 14. But Belichick elected to challenge the ruling, as it appeared New England might have prevented Murray from reaching the first-down marker.
But before Belichick threw the challenge flag, Patriots safety Patrick Chung went down with an “injury,” possibly in an attempt to give his head coach more time to mull things over. Thielen clearly thought Chung was faking it, and took out his frustrations on the Patriots sideline.
The star receiver took the high road after the game, but still seemed irked over the Patriots’ antics.
“Obviously I’ve gotta keep my cool,” he said. “You know, I’ve got a lot of respect for him and what he’s done. I just thought it was interesting timing for a guy to go down, when it was a close play that could have been reviewed. So for me, I just lost my emotions.
“I just thought the play was cheap. I wasn’t directing it toward him. I just thought the play was cheap. But like I said, I let my emotions get the best of me, because it’s a smart football play. If you are in that situation, why not? It’s not cheating, because there’s no rule against it, from a guy going down. I don’t know if he was hurt or not; he might’ve been hurt. That’s fine … just interesting timing for a guy to go down when it’s a close play.”
Thielen was similarly wishy-washy when discussing Belichick, who really let him have it.
“No offense taken,” Thielen said. “It’s football. There’s emotions. He can think what he wants to think about me, and it doesn’t really change how I’m going to play the game.
“So he can hate me all he wants, and I’m still going to be the same person I am. I’m going to try to go out and do my best, and I’m going to try to compete every play.”
As for Belichick, the ever-grumpy head coach doesn’t seem to think the altercation was a big deal.
During a post-game press conference, ESPN’s Mike Reiss asked Belichick whether the run-in was “just two competitive guys exchanging holiday greetings.? Belichick smiled, (kind of) laughed and said “pretty much.”
Ultimately, it’s not hard to see why Thielen was upset. The 28-year-old entered Sunday’s action averaging a staggering 103.5 receiving yards per game, but managed five catches for just 28 yards and a touchdown against New England.
Minnesota now is a disappointing 6-5-1 through 12 games, while the Patriots sit a comfortable 9-3 as the playoffs near.