In a Week 11 primetime matchup on Sunday, November 20, Denver Broncos safety Kareem Jackson, who returned after a two-game suspension for unnecessary roughness, launched himself and lowered the crown of his head into the helmet of Dobbs, who fumbled and turned over the ball on the play.
After being asked if he felt Jackson should have been penalized on the play, O’Connell was asked to clarify whether the rule has a different interpretation when the quarterback has the ball versus another skills player.
He gave a blunt answer after struggling to find the words and maintain his grace with the officials.
“The rule is what it is, they didn’t throw the flag,” O’Connell said in his postgame news conference.
“On the field it felt like,” O’Connell added, saying he felt the hit should have been penalized. “It tends to happen pretty fast out there but in the moment, coming from the second level the way he did, it seemed like a pretty direct helmet-to-helmet type hit, but I’m sure they saw it differently.”
The Broncos went on to score a field goal off the turnover in an eventual 21-20 Vikings loss as Minnesota turned the ball over three times on Sunday.
Former NFL Official, Rules Analyst Deems Hit on Josh Dobbs Illegal
During the Sunday Night Football broadcast, NBC rules analyst, and former official, Terry McAulay, openly disagreed with the non-call on-air.
“He lowers his head and makes forcible contact to the opponent,” McAulay said on the broadcast as the replay was shown, per Yahoo Sports. “You see, his head is down. This should have been a 15-yard penalty for unnecessary roughness.”
Ahead of the primetime matchup, Jackson vowed to change the way he plays after being suspended two games as a repeat offender of the league’s rules. Jackson has been fined four times for nearly $90,000 total this season and is likely to receive another fine for his hit on Dobbs Sunday.
“I guess so,’’ Jackson said of whether he would change the way he plays, per the Denver Gazette. “I mean, for me as a player, as an instinctive player, I’m going to always be in those (bang-bang tackling) situations because my preparation and my instincts are going to put me in those situations.”
Jackson’s return to action on Sunday came after his appeal to the league was approved, bumping what was a four-game suspension down to two games.
The NFL has not addressed Jackson’s hit as of Monday morning.
Vikings Have Another Primetime Matchup Ahead vs. Bears
The good news for the Vikings is they have a chance to wash away the bad taste of Sunday’s loss with another primetime matchup in Week 12.
The Chicago Bears visit the Vikings on Monday, November 27, after Minnesota won the first meeting with Chicago 19-13 on October 15. That was the first game the Vikings played without Justin Jefferson amid his stint on injured reserve.
Jefferson is eligible to return, but the offense has fared well without him, averaging 23.8 points en route to a 5-1 run.