Down two scores and with about nine minutes remaining, the Vikings picked up what looked like a fourth-down conversion—but it was close. Minnesota hurried to the line to try to get the next play off before the Patriots could decide whether to challenge the ruling, but safety Patrick Chung dropped to the ground with an injury. Excellent timing!
That gave New England time to challenge the play (and Bill Belichick might’ve needed every second, given that he forgot which sock his challenge flag was in), but Vikings receiver Adam Thielen decided to wander over to the Patriots sideline to tell Belichick exactly what he thought of Chung’s convenient owie.
Cordarrelle Patterson, a former teammate of Thielen’s, said the Vikings WR is a real wild man out there: “Once you tick him off, he’ll explode. He’s got to calm down sometimes.” I think he might be half-joking, because field mics picked up exactly what Thielen said, and it was “That’s bullcrap.”
Belichick’s “shut the fuck up” response did not require a professional lipreader to decipher.
What Thielen would later call “a cheap play” would not end up mattering: The first down was upheld on review, but the Vikings would turn the ball over on downs six plays later, and the Patriots hung on to win 24-10. There’s obviously no way to know if Chung was actually hurt—football players get hurt all the time—but the fake injury is a time-honored bit of gamesmanship that isn’t going anywhere. And can be pretty funny when more than one guy has the same idea at the same time.
Just as time-honored is the other team getting upset about fake injuries; it was just two months ago that Bill Belichick declared “fucking bullshit” on an opponent conveniently suffering “cramps” at just the right time.
“I just thought the play was cheap. I wasn’t directing it toward him. I just thought the play was cheap, but like I said, I let the emotions get the best of me because it’s a smart football play if you are in that situation. Why not? It’s not cheating because there’s no rule against it from a guy going down. I don’t know if he was hurt or not. He might have been hurt. That’s fine. It is what it is. But like I said, just interesting timing for a guy to go down when it’s a close play.”