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Minnesota Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell rips NFL officiating, jokes about practice habits

Andrew Buller-Russ

In his first year as head coach of the Minnesota Vikings, we’re learning more and more about Kevin O’Connell each week. This past Sunday saw his team come back from a 17-point deficit to best the current Super Bowl favorites.

It hasn’t been easy, but O’Connell’s Vikings are 8-1, in firm control of the NFC North, with an outside shot of catching up to Philadelphia to secure the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage in the playoffs. While there are still a lot of games to be played, the Vikings have to feel good about their hire this past offseason.

While we’ve learned O’Connell can be a pretty good coach, we’re also starting to realize this guy has a great sense of humor.

NFL referees botched their jobs on Sunday in Vikings vs Bills game

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Buffalo Bills
Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings shocked the world on several occasions this past Sunday. Whether it was Justin Jefferson’s otherworldly catch or managing to take the lead late over Buffalo when all hope seemed to be lost after a failed 4th-and-1 conversion.

They eventually got to overtime but, once again, came up short in the red zone on a Dalvin Cook rush attempt from the two-yard-line on first and goal. Cook was stopped for a three-yard loss, putting the Vikings in a tough spot with opportunities running out.

Except we later learned that the Bills were essentially cheating on that rush attempt. Teams are allowed to have 11 players on the field at a time. Only, in this instance, somehow Buffalo slipped another on the field and actually had an advantage with 12 Bills focused on stopping 11 Vikings.

Typically, that’s a five-yard penalty. Only the referees completely missed it. Usually, a back judge will be held accountable for counting the number of players on the field before each snap occurs, but that failsafe was nowhere to be found in overtime.

While the Bills likely didn’t do this on purpose with how frenetic a game can get in the final stages of high-paced intense action, they still got away with one here.

This is in addition to the refs missing a big 20-yard completion (which should have been an incomplete pass) to Bills receiver Gabriel Davis, which helped set up the game-tying field goal, sending the game to overtime. Only, once again, Davis didn’t actually catch the ball in bounds, yet the game continued with Buffalo rushing to the line as the clock continued to wind.

The NFL admitted their mistake on the Davis goof, and the 12 players on the field speaks for itself. No apology needed.

Related: Justin Jefferson sets another NFL record in Minnesota Vikings’ latest game, hauls in catch of the year

Kevin O’Connell jokes Minnesota Vikings should practice against 12-man defenses

Syndication: Democrat and Chronicle
JAMIE GERMANO / USA TODAY NETWORK

So what did the head coach of the team who escaped with a win, but not before the NFL refs made life difficult as Kirk Cousins and Co. mounted their comeback think the screw-ups?

“We did not get to the point where we could just flat out win the game in overtime. That tends to happen when the defense is allowed to play with 12 men at times. We’ll continue to work through a good play for first and goal at the two against 12 guys on the field. I’m working on that right now.”

Minnesota Vikings Kevin O’Connell roasts NFL officiating with a joke

O’Connell jokes that he’s “working on that right now,” referring to trying to come up with a play so good it can even beat teams with a one-player disadvantage. That’s like Peyton Manning’s exact style of comedy, and we absolutely love it.

Of course, KOC isn’t wasting any time on such things, but how the refs officiated the Bills vs. Vikings game did catch the eye of one coach Bill Belichick, who also happened to draft O’Connell during his playing days with the New England Patriots. Maybe he’s still keeping an eye on his pupil, but he probably just wanted to see his AFC East rivals lose.

It’s easy for coach O’Connell to joke about the matter now, as his team got the last laugh on Sunday, but the NFL needs to do better, as these costly mistakes could have just as easily changed the outcome of the game.

Related: Love the Vikings? Get involved in the discussion on the Purple Pain forums