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Vikings should hope NFL comes down hard on Steelers, Bengals for dangerous plays

The Minnesota Vikings may have lost their top quarterback and running back to injuries, but for the most part they have been one of the healthiest teams in the NFL.

Most of the starting lineup has played in every game. On defense, safety Andrew Sendejo missed one game due to injury (another suspension) and defensive end Everson Griffen sat out against Washington with a foot issue.

On the offensive side, tackle Mike Remmers and guard Nick Easton have been absent from several games and Stefon Diggs had a groin injury that kept him on the sideline against the Green Bay Packers and Baltimore Ravens.

Heading down the stretch, nearly everyone is healthy. Last week’s injury report featured Remmers and Eric Kendricks, who played against the Atlanta Falcons.

With a healthy squad, the Vikings are either ahead or on par with every top NFC contender.

So Monday night’s game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals should have made the Vikings nervous.

The game saw players on both sides get carted off the field. Linebacker Ryan Shazier was lost for the Steelers and both rookie running back Joe Mixon and linebacker Vontaze Burfict  took hits to the head and did not return.

Burfict, who has a long history of dirty hits, including one against Steelers receiver Antonio Brown in the playoffs, was crushed on a crack back block by rookie receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. Later on a touchdown catch by Brown, Cincinnati safety George Iloka was penalized for a late helmet-to-helmet hit. The Bengals racked up 13 penalties for 173 yards.

The Vikings are by no means a soft team. You’d take their combination of offensive and defensive line in a street fight, but the last thing the Vikings need is to lose a player to injury or suspension because of a dirty hit.

For Mike Zimmer’s group there could be plenty to play for, namely home field advantage throughout the playoffs. But for the Bengals, any hope they had at the postseason ended on Monday night, which means they will be traveling to Minnesota with only pride on their minds.

If the commisioner’s office issues heavy penalties for some of the ugly plays in the Bengals-Steelers game, it would seem more likely that Cincinnati would be more cautious about where they’re throwing their helmets. After all, who wants to get nailed with a huge fine or lose a game check for a hit in a game with no implications?

But if the NFL goes soft – as they did with Rob Gronkowski’s horrific hit against Buffalo’s rookie cornerback Tre’Davious White, the Bengals might not have any problem playing that way in Minnesota.

There’s no way to back of the gas pedal for the Vikings as they head down the stretch, but in order to be the best team in the NFC, they need everyone in the lineup. Lack of discipline for the Bengals and Steelers would open the door for that possibility.

  • cka2nd

    Good piece.

  • Cman

    Nice read. I don’t think the nfl will come down hard Smith-Schuster as they probably look at it as karma for what Burfict has done in his career. Gronk only got 1 game because he has been an otherwise standup guy, and he plays for the Pats.

    • Jeeves

      Some talk about “white privilege”.
      I think it’s time people started talking about “Patriot Privilege” and all it entails!

      • Cman

        True. You can add Green Bay and New Orleans to that list as well.

  • badzeitgeist

    The Gronk thing annoys me. He goes and throws his full body weight on a guy on the ground who didn’t see it coming, long after the play is dead. The guy goes into concussion protocol thereafter. Gronk gets a 1-game suspension, but as we know players can be in protocol longer than that. At the very least, for purely deadball unnecessary roughness that causes an injury or concussion, the assailant should not be eligible to play until the victim is medically cleared to return.

    • Jeeves

      Hell Yes!

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    • Gordon Guffey

      Maybe someone will go hunting for Gronk in the near future ~ Not that I’m saying they should ~ But he isn’t the only fool in the NFL and some guys look for anything challenging ~

      Gronk has been getting ways with pushing off for years and it made him mad because someone was doing the same things back ~ ??? Really ~ He has also go away with his share and part of someone else of holding that never got called ~

      I dont want to see him get hurt but if someone else wants to bring to his a$$ then I want b!tch either ~

      • justjoseph

        I ve heard a number of NFL players say that they were dissappointed with the Bill’s players for not taking out frontier justice upon Gronk right then and there and rearrangng his face right then and there, but these day you’d think the league would take care of it.
        So far, the league has been treating it like it was a dirty football play. THe play was long over. There was clear malicious intent to injure and cause great bodily harm, off the field and not during a play. This could be prosecuted as criminal assault. I also think that anyone behaving this way in a fit of rage should be drug tested. Gronk will see a return to the field before his victim, who was injured outside the game of football. Gronk should be banned from the game forever.

        • Gordon Guffey

          Its going to happen sooner or later ~ He gets away with pushing off and using his hands every game as the DB do as well ~ They remind me of the Panthers when they made their Super Bowl run ~ It was just ugly to watch ~ I live in NC and got to see them more than I wanted too ~

  • Andre Esters

    I totally understand what Coller is implying with health… its not always about who’s the best, it really comes down to who’s still standing at the end.
    And for the Vikes, consistency and health have been some elusive perks for the franchise.

    As for the NFL being consistent, fair, and clear about enforcing rules, I’ve given up on that illusion many seasons ago. Suddenly feeling a 2009 Saints game chill creep through me. Point is, the NFL will nit-pick details from the Gronk belly flop and the numerous head/neck region shots that take place every week. Truth is, you don’t need slow-motion to see a majority of hits that appear malicious. Vicious and bone crunching? Yeah, its football… but the hits that clearly show intent, that can’t be impossible to spot. You don’t need a committee to review and analyze whether Gronkowski tripped and fell onto a defenseless player… the same way you don’t need a overdrawn process to see what JuJu did to a known offender made him feel good enough to openly gloat.

    Bottom line is, the NFL is moving at a snails pace to travel over a mountain. If a player does something clear as day with full intent, up the ante and drop the hammer through the floor. No need to be apologetic or polite, these are football players, set the tone with man hands. Kid gloves out the window. These guys are well within their right to dispute fines and suspensions, but at this point its a laughable display of “going thru the motions”.

    Actions that are debatable, feel free to analyze and nit-pick. Actions that show egregious intent, don’t be shy about calling out the behavior they supposedly preach about filtering out. The last thing I want as a football fan, especially a Vikings follower, is to see a game decided by an appalling neglect for safety and enforcement of rules.

    • Topgunn

      Great points Andre.

  • Kevin Hicks

    I don’t think we need to worry about Cincy going rogue on us. Zimmer and Marvin are close. The Bengals and Steelers have a special kind of hatred/history for these kinds of shenanigans.


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