It’s a good thing doctors told Vikings coach Mike Zimmer not to watch the Vikings’ 17-15 loss to Dallas on television, because it might cause further problems to his vision after his latest eye surgery. He had to lie down in an awkward position and had to listen to the game on the radio instead.
If he had watched, Zimmer might have wrecked his TV set after seeing Dallas defensive lineman Cedric Thornton smack quarterback Sam Bradford right in the face, making him unable to complete a two-point conversion pass to Kyle Rudolph.
The play should have called for a penalty that would have given the Vikings a second opportunity to tie the score and force overtime.
Your heart has to bleed for Zimmer, not only a great coach but a super human being. He hasn’t got a call from the NFL officials all year and now has been stricken with losses by a number of mistakes over six of the past seven games. In this one, it was a fumbled punt return by Adam Thielen in the fourth quarter.
Thielen has been a big contributor all season, and that fumble was out of character for the surehanded receiver. But it was a turning point in a game controlled for three quarters by the Vikings, who led 9-7 at the time.
Thielen said the most difficult aspect of the game for him was that he wanted this victory for Zimmer, a feeling shared by teammates.
“Absolutely, that’s what makes it even extra tough for me,” he said. “I wanted to do it for Coach, and I feel like I let him down.”
In that third quarter the Vikings had six first downs to the Cowboys’ two and 105 total yards compared to Dallas’ 34. The Vikings were actually running the ball well, too, gaining 49 yards on the ground.
But a couple of key plays changed the course of the game in the fourth quarter.
Robison on refs
After the game Brian Robison was upset not only about the loss but about the way that the Vikings lost, especially calling out the missed hit on Bradford on the final play of the game.
“It’s about as tough as any other loss,” Robison said. “It’s the way you have to take it, we have to move on.”
When asked if the lone Vikings turnover, a very close fumble call that was only given to Dallas on a review, changed the game, Robison didn’t hesitate to say that he thought there were some unfair calls against the Vikings in this heartbreaking loss.
“I’m just going to say it right now, man, I’m sick and tired of the reffing in this league right now,” Robison said. “I’m sick and tired of it. You have holding calls all over the place that people don’t want to call. Bradford gets hit in the face at the end of the game and you don’t call it? I’m not laying this loss on reffing, but at some point it has to get better.”
When asked about the fact that the Cowboys had 10 penalties for 78 yards, more than the Vikings, who had eight for 57, Robison said it isn’t the total number of penalties but rather which penalties get called.
“I don’t care. You can look at it play in and play out, I mean the problem is the costly penalties that don’t get called,” he said. “When you look at the play that Dak [Prescott] scrambled [for a first down in the second quarter on third and 13 that led to a Cowboys touchdown], there should have been penalties called on that play, and they don’t. At the end of the day that’s a game-changing play, and you have to make those calls. At the end of the game Bradford gets hit in the face, I mean that’s an opportunity for us to score and tie the ballgame but it doesn’t get called. So it is what it is.”
Yes, it was an especially tough loss for Robison, who made one of the great plays of his long Vikings career on a strip-sack of Prescott in the third quarter that led to a go-ahead field goal.
No player was better on offense than Thielen, who had seven receptions for 86 yards, including an incredible toe-drag grab late in the fourth quarter that helped them march for the potential tying score.
But he also had that fumble earlier in the quarter on the punt return.
“I have to do my job better,” said Thielen, who has been filling in on punt returns for injured Marcus Sherels. “I put my team in a tough spot, and that’s on me.”
Did he feel like he had the ball?
“Yeah, I had it,” he said. “Obviously that’s a situation where you have to be smart and you have to be good and I didn’t do my job.”
Did he feel like he had possession?
“I thought I had it still and I was on the ground,” he said. “But I have to do my job better.”
Thielen echoed what many Vikings felt, which was that this was an especially tough loss because they played so well against the team with the NFL’s best record.
“It’s tough when you play that good and don’t come out with a victory,” he said. Like I said before I have to do my job better to help this football team win.”
When asked if the team wasn’t getting the breaks, Thielen didn’t agree.
“It’s not about that,” he said. “It’s about doing your job, and like I said, I have to do my job better.”
Hall of Fame broadcaster Al Michaels was in town to call the Vikings game, after taking some time off in previous recent NBC broadcasts. I was so humbled by the words Michaels said to Star Tribune television reporter Neal Justin about our relationship.
Michaels and I have been friends for over 40 years and he has been around Minnesota sports for some of the most important moments in the state’s history — including the Twins’ 1987 World Series championship and his calling of the legendary Miracle on Ice, which featured Minnesota native Herb Brooks as the coach.
Still, Michaels’ words this week were truly humbling. When Justin asked about me, Michaels said:
“I’ve been reading him for 1,000 years. Here’s a guy who just writes and writes and writes to this day. I think of his legacy, top quality over an unbelievably extended period of time. To do something for six or seven decades, when a lot of people don’t even live that long, and then to be a craftsman on top of that? It’s almost freakish.
“In a way, I’d compare him to Vin Scully. What Scully has been to broadcasting, Sid has been to journalism. I could spend enough time on the beach and still do this for a living. I went to see Bruce Springsteen for the first time last March. I watched him perform for 3 hours and 40 minutes without a break, circle the arena and crowd-surf. I’m going, ‘Wait a minute. If Bruce Springsteen can do this at the age of 66, I can certainly keep announcing football games. It ain’t that hard.’ ”
Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. email@example.com