A strange taunting penalty called on Case Keenum in the fourth quarter of the Minnesota Vikings’ 30-23 win over the Detroit Lions perfectly summarized the refereeing for the day.
Following a sack by defensive end Ziggy Ansah, Keenum flipped the ball softly, nicking Ansah’s leg as he celebrated with a barrel roll along the ground. When the flag was thrown, most figured Ansah was getting nailed for overdoing it. Instead, Keenum was penalized, backing the Vikings up on fourth down to their own 8-yard line.
The Vikings’ quarterback was stunned by the flag.
“It wasn’t something I meant to do at all, I was just frustrated…I did a bad job in the pocket,” Keenum said. “I didn’t do my offensive line justice and I was kind of frustrated. I guess I threw the ball, I need to see it on film. I didn’t realize what happened.”
Technically Keenum broke the rules, which do not allow players to spike the ball on an opponent, but it was on the spirit-of-the-rule edge to say the least. Keenum did take the blame for his error.
“I don’t need to give the refs a chance to call that and give our team a situation where we are backed up,” he said.
Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer made it clear that he expected this type of day from the refs, who also nearly botched a touchdown review and called several questionable penalties such as a pass interference on Xavier Rhodes and facemask on Eric Kendricks. They also missed a blatant pass interference on a deep throw toward Stefon Diggs.
“We almost lost our composure a couple times,” Zimmer said. “We study each crew going into the game. I told them this could be like this today. They had to play clean, smart football. I probably shouldn’t say anything else.”