Head coach Kevin O’Connell’s play call was too cute at the time. There was no reason to let quarterback Josh Dobbs make a quick throw from tight end TJ Hockenson in a short-yardage situation. Honestly, it wouldn’t have made much sense in any situation.
The fact that Dobbs absorbed a shot in the open field and deflected the ball in the process made the injury even worse. He shouldn’t have been put in that position in the first place. Why would you willingly give him the ball far behind the offensive line while defenders are rushing toward him at 100 miles per hour?
The decision was rightly criticized in the immediate aftermath of the Vikings’ 21-20 loss to the Denver Broncos on Sunday night at Empower Field. However, if you take a closer look at the scene, it is quite reasonable that the Vikings are upset with how the officials behaved in that moment.
A flag should have been raised as Dobbs appeared to be the victim of a dirty hit by Broncos safety Kareem Jackson. Not only did Dobbs suffer smoke in his helmet in the collision, but Jackson also lowered the top of his helmet to deliver the blow. It was a penalty by definition and the referees missed it.
“It seemed to be a pretty direct helmet-to-helmet type,” O’Connell said. “I’m sure they saw it differently.”
Not surprisingly, the NFL is already reviewing Jackson’s actions for possible disciplinary action, according to NFL Network insider Tom Pelissero. This isn’t the first time Jackson has been at the center of controversy because of his physicality on the field. He has already been suspended once this season for an illegal tackle on rookie tight end Luke Musgrave.
The seemingly dirty hit on Dobbs came on Jackson’s first drive since returning from his suspension. The concussion observer had Dobbs examined in the blue medical tent after he returned to the sideline. He was quickly cleared and returned to the game for the Vikings.
What did Dobbs think about the officials not fining Jackson?
“Anyone else can figure it out with the administration,” he said. “I just have to take care of the football in this situation, especially starting the game.”
If the official had awarded a penalty, the Vikings would have kept the ball, especially in midfield.
“The rule is what it is,” O’Connell said. “They didn’t throw the flag.”