Jared Allen doesn’t think his late hit out of bounds on Andrew Luck was a penalty. Percy Harvin doesn’t think his offensive pass interference call was a penalty. Kevin Williams characterized several calls on Sunday as “bogus.” Leslie Frazier has a message for them all: zip it.
He didn’t say it in so many words, but that’s clearly the message Leslie Frazier is trying to get across to his whining players. It’s not on the replacement refs, it’s on the team. Frazier was asked about the Vikings’ 11 penalties against the Colts – many of the 11 being of the ridiculous and boneheaded variety – and he said:
We have to make sure that we’re doing the things that are necessary to play within the rules. We have officials at our practice. We go through with our players what a hold is, what constitutes a personal foul, what’s offsides, what’s encroachment. We go through all those things. So it’s up to us when we get in game situations to do the right things. And there were times yesterday where we didn’t and it cost us.
Frazier addressed Allen’s penalty directly. Andrew Luck was going out of bounds after a scramble, and Allen for whatever reason slid into his legs and hooked him, bringing him down. The play looked pretty egregious on TV but nevertheless Allen said he didn’t think it deserved a flag. “Literally, I hit him and he fell over there and I was over there and their sideline hyped it up. They got the penalty and I still think that was a terrible call,” he told the media.
Leslie Frazier would beg to differ. “[It was] great hustle on [Jared's] part,” Frazier said. “He was running all day trying to catch up to that quarterback. Got to have a little awareness of where you are on the field. It looks like he kind of lost where he was on the field. Just have a little awareness of where you are on the field, and probably have to pull up in that situation.”
Allen doesn’t have much of a gripe. The Percy Harvin interference call was more borderline and so was the Andrew Sendejo roughing the punter call. But this isn’t a question of whether you think the replacement refs blew some calls. It’s a question of attitude. And right now the Vikings look like a bunch of whiners on a hunt for excuses.
The penalties were surely frustrating for Frazier but it must be equally frustrating to see some of his biggest stars blaming the referees for a loss. And that’s why he’s now making it clear that this stuff won’t fly. Bad calls may hurt you for one game, but excuse-making will hurt you for the entire season.
The referees didn’t cause Erin Henderson to blow a coverage on Reggie Wayne at the end of the second. They didn’t cause Alan Williams to call a questionable zone blitz late in the fourth that gave Wayne another easy 20-yard reception to set up a winning field goal. They didn’t cause Christian Ponder to fumble or the receivers to not get separation or the offensive line to not run block.
And it’s irrelevant that these happen to be replacement refs. Are the replacement refs terrible? Yes. But everyone has to live with them. They were watching the Colts too and somehow the Colts managed to avoid getting called for numerous dumb penalties. The fact that they’re replacement refs just makes it that much easier to use them as an excuse.
The Vikings can’t give in to that temptation because that sort of stuff will only undermine them further. They’re already operating on a razor-thin margin in terms of talent. They can’t afford to give themselves the added disadvantage of being a bunch of ref-bashing excuse-making babies.
That’s what Leslie Frazier is trying to get across. Let’s hope the players listen.