The Minnesota Vikings notched a closely-contested 37-35 victory over the Detroit Lions courtesy of a questionable call made by referees late in the fourth quarter on Sunday night.
Down 31-29 with 11 minutes to go in the final period, the Lions came up with what looked like an outstanding defensive stand. Safety Tracy Walker sacked Kirk Cousins on a huge 4th-and-goal snap. Unfortunately for Detroit, Walker was called for a highly-questionable roughing-the-passer call.
THE WORST CALL I EVER SAW GET THIS REF OFF MY TV TOTAL GARBAGE pic.twitter.com/sUgJdewXhL
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) January 3, 2021
With a fresh set of downs and half the distance to the goal line, the Vikings capitalized with the six points that would ultimately win them the game.
While the football world has rained down on the officials for the call on what seemed to be a textbook tackle, the referees continued to stand by their decision.
When asked about the costly flag after the game, referee Adrian Hill said the call was a clear-cut penalty.
“By rule, one of the categories for roughing the passer is full body weight, where the tackler lands with full body weight on the quarterback. That’s the category this play fell into,” Hill said.
Referee Adrian Hill said the hit from Lions safety Tracy Walker on Vikings QB Kirk Cousins was a clear-cut penalty pic.twitter.com/SQOtLA8nvO
— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) January 3, 2021
Hill’s response to the question stems from a true belief in his call or a severe lack of responsibility. Either way, there’s no arguing that this penalty played a huge role in the Vikings’ seventh win of the season.
It’s hard to see what Walker could’ve really done differently here. After making the initial contact with Kirk Cousins, the safety rolled off almost immediately.
If this call isn’t made, there’s no telling how the game would’ve ended up.
Neither team had a chance of making the playoffs anyways, but it’s always tough to see a game so heavily influenced by the referees.