Re-litigating every wrongdoing suffered by Minnesota teams (and by extension its fans) could fill a book and take years to accomplish (or at least a few hours, a handle of dark liquor and unfettered access to @ChikenFingerz69’s Twitter account).
We must pick our spots. File this one, then, as a mild-to-moderate burn that has grown hotter after the fact: The Dalvin Cook offensive pass interference penalty in Week 2 at Green Bay that negated a Stefon Diggs touchdown.
It was flagged when a booth review suggested Cook had set a pick that allowed Diggs to come free and catch the ball.
It was annoying and consequential at the time, taking points off the board in an eventual 21-16 loss. Our Mark Craig wrote about it, but mostly the Vikings were confused as to why the call was made. It was somewhat of an afterthought in the postgame dissection, with Kirk Cousins’ late interception in the end zone serving as the main dish.
But here’s the thing: The play certainly didn’t seem to meet the NFL’s newfangled pass interference replay threshold of “clear and obvious visual evidence” at the time.
And it certainly doesn’t now given the trend that has emerged in more recent weeks.
Former colleague and ESPN writer Kevin Seifert tweeted on Thursday that coaches have been unsuccessful on 20 of their last 21 pass interference challenges. He urged coaches to “STOP challenging pass pass interference calls and non-calls that are anything short of a complete mugging.”
Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio took up the subject as well in the context of a Thursday play in which the Giants’ Golden Tate sure looked like he was interfered with against the Patriots, only to have the non-call on-field verdict quickly upheld upon challenge and review.
Florio wrote: “Thursday night’s abrupt affirmation of the on-the-field non-call underscores the reality that NFL senior V.P. of officiating Al Riveron has been told that the new procedure will be used only as a break-glass-in-event-of-emergency device for preventing a complete and total miscarriage of NFL justice.”
Or, I guess, a borderline pass route in the second quarter of a game? Because the call on Cook was nowhere near fixing a “complete and total miscarriage of NFL justice,” and it was far less of a sure thing than anything that happened Thursday to Golden Tate.
It is fair to point out that the Cook play was a booth-initiated review (as mandated on all scoring plays), but that shouldn’t change the standard. Somewhere along the way, the enforcement of an ill-considered rule changed, and not to the Vikings’ benefit.
If you’d like to say the Vikings would have won the game (they ended up kicking a field goal to be down 21-10 instead of pulling within 21-14 in an eventual five-point loss) without the call, it’s certainly possible.
But as one Twitter respondent duly notes, you could also say the same thing about the Packers and the overzealous point-of-emphasis roughing the passer call on Clay Matthews last season that turned a loss into a tie (and could have been a Vikings win if Daniel Carlson hadn’t missed critical kicks).
Minnesota fans imagine all the slights against them (Phil Cuzzi! The push-off! Etc.) filling a large book and all the breaks for them (Hrbek cheated! The Twins benefited from a ton of bad calls in Game 7 in 1987! Etc.) filling a single tweet of shruggy shoulder emojis.
That said: The Cook play was bad at the time, and it only seems worse now. It will be a handy thing for everyone to remember and complain about again at the end of the season if the Vikings fall short of the playoffs.