From botched spots to phantom pass interference calls to fumbles that weren't overturned, the Minnesota Vikings left Baltimore giving the cold shoulder to the officials after feeling like they snowed on their comeback attempt, too.
The questionable calls came early, and then more often in the second half.
"Feeling a little CHEATED, just being honest!" fullback Jerome Felton tweeted after the Vikings were forced to swallow the calls and accept a 29-26 defeat that officially eliminated them from what little playoff hope they had.
The Baltimore Ravens took a 7-6 lead into halftime, but they may have been shut out in the first half if not for a fortuitous call made by referee Peter Morelli's crew. On the Vikings' second drive, the Vikings were trying to overcome a holding call on Cordarrelle Patterson when Toby Gerhart took a handoff 2 yards up the middle and appeared to have his knee clearly down when Ravens safety James Ihedigbo ripped the ball loose with Matt Elam recovering.
The ruling on the field was understandable with the speed of events, a crowd of players and snow falling. But even after the replay official called for a review, Morelli stuck with the ruling on the field.
"They told me it was too close to overturn," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. "Our guys upstairs thought it was clear that his knees were down."
So did QB Matt Cassel.
"I was definitely surprised. I saw the replay on the big screen and I thought there was no way that they would say it was actually a fumble, but that sometimes happens," Cassel said. "You just have to move forward."
The Vikings moved forward to the second half, but there were other calls they didn't agree with. On a third-and-9 play from the Ravens, TE Dennis Pitta clearly came up short of the line to gain after Jamarca Sanford drove him backwards, but the officials gave the Ravens a first down. Frazier challenged that call and won.
On two more scoring plays, the replay assistant challenged whether a Ravens player stayed in bounds – on Jacoby Jones' 77-yard kick return and Marlon Browns' 9-yard touchdown that turned out to be the game winner. Both calls were upheld, and those may have been the right decisions.
But perhaps the biggest call of the game came when Chad Greenway was flagged for pass interference three plays before Brown's touchdown. On second-and-10 from the Vikings 45-yard line, Greenway made contact with Pitta off the line of scrimmage before the ball was thrown, but later in the route Pitta tripped on the field. The ball sailed into the arms of Andrew Sendejo behind Pitta, and Greenway was called for the costly penalty with 24 seconds left in the game.
Instead of being able to have Cassel kneel down for the 26-22 win, the Ravens kept the ball, gained 18 yards on the penalty and scored the game-winning touchdown with four seconds left.
"From the sideline – I haven't seen video or anything – uhhhh, man. I mean there were a lot of things I thought could have been called on pass interference more so than that throughout that ballgame," Frazier said. "For those two calls to happen, that just bewildered me. Just very disappointing."
RB Adrian Peterson summed up his feelings with a post-game tweet: "Wow talking about bad officiating & the worst fan base I've ever experience! They threw snow balls the entire 4q like lil kids. Smh"
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
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