Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen dove into a dogpile trying to jar the ball loose with his team down a score late in the fourth quarter against the San Francisco 49ers last Sunday.
Whatever Thielen did, didn’t sit well with 49ers cornerback Josh Norman, who stopped digging for the ball and instead slammed his fists into the back of Thielen.
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Norman and the NFL have faced scrutiny on social media since the game, a 34-26 Vikings loss that even left coach Mike Zimmer frustrated with the officiating.
Former Vikings linebacker and analyst Ben Leber is among those who have called out Norman for the play. Leber tweeted at Norman on Sunday, saying, “(By the way) you’re a punk a** for taking a cheap shot on Thielen. Although not sure he even felt that weak a** first.”
Mike Zimmer: ‘These Guys Hold All the Time’
In his postgame press conference on Sunday, Zimmer was not shy about his frustration with how the officials called the game.
“These guys hold all the time,” Zimmer said. “They grab us around the waist, grabbing our backs. They don’t want to call it every play, but until they start calling it every play, they’re not going to stop doing it.”
49ers tight end George Kittle, prompted by local media to respond to Zimmer, stood by the “it’s football” defense.
“I mean, you can watch plenty of pass plays. I finally got a holding call out there on a pass route. I got hugged and tackled, and I think (there were) about three of those out there that don’t get called,” Kittle said.
“It’s football. Refs throw flags, refs don’t throw flags, it’s just the game. If you’re going to sit on the sideline and complain about holding the whole time, tell your guys to make better plays.”
Both teams were penalized five times in the games. However, like many games, there were more penalties left out on the field.
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Leber’s Final Thoughts on 49ers
Despite his frustration with the no-call on Norman, Leber made no excuses for the Vikings on Sunday.
“They beat the crap out of us,” he said in an Instagram video. “Up front and defensively, we were missing a lot of guys and that’s not going to change.”
Leber attributed the struggles to score offensively in the second half to the mounting pressure Kirk Cousins saw.
“That was the difference with Kirk Cousins,” Leber said. “At the end of the game, he was feeling the heat. He was feeling the pressure.”
While the offensive line posted respectable Pro Football Focus grades, the 49ers attacked Oli Udoh, who allowed Kevin Givens to break through the line and force a fumble on Dalvin Cook in the waning minutes of regulation.
“They just beat us up. There’s no other way to put it. They got to regroup. Find other ways to get the ball down the field. Control the clock offensively, and defensively, we got to get off the damn field.”