After forcing a three-and-out to open the game and gaining 18 yards on their first four plays, the Vikings were humming before Cowboys safety Donovan Wilson blitzed on second down and delivered a helmet-to-helmet hit on Kirk Cousins that jarred the ball loose while Cousins was ruled down by contact.
Kirk Cousins got popped in the helmet on that fumble, but there was no flag thrown pic.twitter.com/edoWGXv1g8
— Will Ragatz (@WillRagatz) November 22, 2020
A challenge by the Cowboys overturned the play which was officially ruled a fumble by Cousins. The Cowboys covered 30 yards in three plays to score the game’s first touchdown, tilting the field in their favor.
“We never got on schedule in the first half,” Dalvin Cook said after the game as the Vikings never hit the rhythm of employing their game plan. “It was all a blur.”
Wilson’s sack and forced fumble proved controversial as the helmet-to-helmet hit was not called on the field and unreviewable. Pro Football Talk writer, Charean Williams, who has covered the NFL for 27 years and is a former president of the Pro Football Writers Association, noted that Wilson will likely be fined, a fee he’ll gladly pay as the Cowboys climb to 3-7 and are tied for first in the NFC East.
Officials missed Donovon Wilson's hit to Kirk Cousins head and the fumble. The fumble was overturned. The hit to the head was not reviewable. He likely will be fined.
— Charean Williams (@NFLCharean) November 22, 2020
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Fans React: ‘F*** this League’
In an era where the NFL continues to take measures to protect skill players to the degree that we now have “The Brady Rule,” fans vented their frustration on the play as Cousins was not afforded the same luxury.
One fan called out the roughing the passer call on San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Kentavius Street last week where Street seemingly made a legal tackle on Brees but was flagged on the play.
From The Aftermath: The #Saints aren't planning to put QB Drew Brees on Injured Reserve, leaving open the possibility that he'll be back in 3 weeks. But as of now, Brees is set to miss multiple starts. An audition for Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill or both. pic.twitter.com/RXv6KvbbxL
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 16, 2020
Brees did break several ribs and suffered a collapsed lung on the play, however, Street was not fined on the play, calling into question whether the play was a true penalty.
Last week: Drew Brees is tackled. 15 yards.
This week: Kirk Cousins is hit directly in his face mask by the crown of a defender’s helmet. Fumble. 🖕 this league
— Kevin Watterson (@kwatt) November 22, 2020
Had Cousins warranted the call, the Vikings would have advanced the ball into Cowboys territory with the game still scoreless.
I know of a few QBs who would have gotten an immediate flag on that helmet to helmet hit but Kirk Cousins is apparently not one of them
— Connor Gilbert (@ConnorJGilbert) November 22, 2020
Like no one even talked about it or even made a comment? Funny as fuck, the inconsistency of the officiating in this league. These fucks can’t be held accountable for nothing.
— Saiffers 💲 (@SaifSmacks) November 22, 2020
Harrison Smith Flagged for Hit, Mike Zimmer Disagrees
Later in the second quarter, safety Harrison Smith was called for unnecessary roughness on a hit that coach Mike Zimmer believed was clean. He also agreed that Wilson’s hit on Cousins was helmet-to-helmet.
Big, legal hit from Harrison Smith gets flagged for 15 yards. pic.twitter.com/lWQA1qnKY3
— Will Ragatz (@WillRagatz) November 22, 2020
“Yes,” Zimmer said agreeing that Wilson’s hit on Cousins was helmet-to-helmet. “I also thought the [flag] on Harrison Smith was clean. There was [sic] a lot of those things but that’s not why we lost.”
The Vikings committed six penalties in the first half which contributed to the struggles on both sides of the ball, however, Zimmer did not make excuses for the offense’s slow start in the first half to the call on the first drive.
“We were getting here and there — little bits in the run game — it wasn’t explosive,” Zimmer said. “We were much better in the second half offensively but defensively we just weren’t quite as good.”
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Trevor Squire is a Heavy contributor covering the Minnesota Vikings and journalism graduate from the University of Minnesota — Twin Cities. Connect with him on Twitter @trevordsquire and join our Vikings community at Heavy on Vikings on Facebook.