Robert Quinn has been wrecking shop in 2021, but he feels like NFL officials are doing the same, and not in a good way. Quinn and his Chicago Bears fell to the rival Minnesota Vikings in a rescheduled Week 15 battle that took place on Monday evening, but they were never truly out of it -- running out of time en route to a 17-9 final score. And while the Bears certainly made their fair share of mistakes that helped secure the loss (e.g., muffed punt, three lost fumbles, bad play-calling on fourth down), they also suffered crippling penalties that either stalled their drives or extended them for Kirk Cousins.
In the end, it was another laundry-filled NFL game that was brutal to watch, with the Vikings being flagged seven times for 54 yards, numbers dwarfed by what the Bears were hit with: nine penalties for a total of 91 yards.
"Honestly, some of these calls are starting to get a little crazy," Quinn told media following the game, via NBC5 in Chicago. "These refs seem like they're controlling the game a little too much. If a play is clean and they're throwing a flag over something that they thought they can change the game just by one flag, I mean, let guys play ball."
One of the first game-changing flags against Chicago was an unnecessary roughness penalty against linebacker Devin Bush, who tackled tight end Tyler Conklin after a reception on third-and-7 in the first quarter, awarding the Vikings a new set of downs.
The call infuriated head coach Matt Nagy, who then drew a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for laying into the officiating crew immediately thereafter. Cousins and Co. would go on to grab a field goal to make it a 10-0 affair. The Bears would continue to stifle the Vikings offense as the game went along, but with only a seven-point lead in the third quarter, there was another call that made Nagy go nuclear -- nearly getting ejected from the game entirely.
With just over 10 minutes remaining in the third quarter, Quinn and the Bears defense were able to stop running back Dalvin Cook on third-and-18 from the Vikings 15-yard line, and celebrated accordingly.
The problem was they then saw a yellow flag on the field, and after a lengthy discussion between officials, a penalty was called against safety Teez Tabor for a low block into the legs of the offensive lineman. Tabor was actually going through the lineman to make the tackle on Cook, however, so Nagy argued it was a tackle on the ball carrier and not a low block attempt from a defensive player.
So instead of being forced to punt, the Vikings were awarded a new set of downs in addition to a free 15 yards and went on to score a touchdown on the drive, making it a 17-3 contest, and that's where the score remained until a last-second (and entirely inconsequential) touchdown pass from Justin Fields to tight end Jesper Horsted as time expired in the fourth quarter.
In the end, the Vikings scored 10 points after the aforementioned three flags, and in a close NFC North matchup that would've otherwise gone either way, even with the Bears list of mistakes.
"If this was a couple years ago, half this stuff wouldn't even be called," said a clearly frustrated Quinn. "But now they've got some of these stupid rules and in the refs' hands it can change at any given moment."
The Bears now fall to 4-10 on the season while the Vikings remain in the NFC playoff hunt at 7-7, and questions about NFL officiating that didn't begin with this game likely won't end going forward -- with many having voiced concern over how games are being impacted in 2021 by both the subjectivity of referees and game legislation (e.g., taunting) that have often made for an unwatchable product. That said, league commissioner Roger Goodell probably won't take kindly to Quinn's skewering of last night's crew, but it's just as feasible that the All-Pro pass rusher doesn't care.
"I think they need to go check the refs they're hiring, not our coach."