The Minnesota Vikings benefited from multiple controversial officiating decisions in their Thanksgiving win over the New England Patriots.
Speaking with reporters one day after his team’s 33-26 defeat at U.S. Bank Stadium, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was asked for his take on two pivotal plays that helped swing the outcome.
The most notable was the third-quarter touchdown pass from Mac Jones to Hunter Henry that was overturned after a lengthy video review. NFL vice president of officiating Walt Anderson said after the game that the call was reversed because Henry did not “survive the ground.” The tight end disagreed, saying he believed he kept his hand under the ball as he fell to the turf.
The Patriots settled for a Nick Folk field goal to go up 26-23, then allowed 10 unanswered points as Minnesota rallied for a thrilling victory. New England failed to score on its final four possessions after the contentious ruling.
“I don’t know,” Belichick said Friday morning in a video conference. “It’s a four-point play. I don’t know. There were a lot of other things that happened besides that.”
Minutes earlier, the Vikings scored on a 97-yard kickoff-return touchdown by Kene Nwangwu. Replays clearly showed Patriots safety Kyle Dugger was held on the play by Minnesota fullback C.J. Ham, impeding his path to Nwangwu, but Ham was not penalized.
“We obviously didn’t do a good enough job,” Belichick said. “The other returns, I think they got to the 20-yard line or not much past that. But obviously, that was a bad play. We just had a couple of breakdowns on the play.”
Asked specifically about the hold on Dugger that went uncalled, Belichick replied: “I mean obviously, we need to do a better job than what we did. Like I said, there’s a couple things on that play that came up that we didn’t do well enough.”
The Patriots hurt themselves with self-inflicted mistakes. Five of their six penalties in the game resulted in Vikings first downs, including a costly running-into-the-kicker flag on rookie running back Pierre Strong that extended what proved to be the game-winning drive. Kirk Cousins found Adam Thielen for a 15-yard touchdown pass three plays later.
The loss dropped the 6-5 Patriots out of the playoff picture in the competitive AFC, though they still control their own destiny with six weeks remaining. They’ll host the 8-3 Buffalo Bills next week on “Thursday Night Football.”