Talking about an overtime win that lifted Minnesota into a tie for first place in the NFC North was burying the lede as far as Vikings coach Mike Zimmer was concerned.
Zimmer was fuming after watching his second-year quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater, get knocked out of the team’s 21-18 overtime win over St. Louis early in the fourth quarter on what he, and many others, deemed a cheap shot by Rams cornerback Lamarcus Joyner.
After persevering in the extra frame thanks to a three-and-out by his stout defense, a solid punt return by Marcus Sherels and a 40-yard, game-winning field goal by Blair Walsh, Zimmer barely acknowledged his counterpart Jeff Fisher after the contest.
“If we were out on the street, we probably would have had a fight,” Zimmer said afterward when recounting Joyner’s questionable actions.
The emerging signal caller was knocked out briefly on the field with 13:29 left in regulation after giving himself up on a slide at the end of a scramble. Joyner, however, lowered his shoulder, blasting Bridgewater in the helmet, which also caused the QB’s head to bang off the turf at TCF Bank Stadium.
It was a bang-bang play and correctly drew a 15-yard penalty for unnecessary roughness but Joyner’s brand new reputation as a pariah is really tied to the resumes of Fisher and his defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams, more than his own actions.
“I do know that there is a history there (with) their defensive coordinator,” Zimmer said referring to the Williams’ role while the DC in New Orleans during the Bountygate scandal.
Williams, of course, was suspended for a year after devising a system of rewarding players for knocking high-profile targets out of the game, most notably in the 2009 NFC Championship Game when the Saints took borderline shot after borderline shot at the aging Brett Favre.
This time Joyner claimed it was an innocent mistake.
“We were playing zone coverage and Teddy went for the scramble,” the corner claimed “I did not know he was going to slide; I thought he was going to give another move, and it was a bang-bang play. My intent was never to hurt Teddy. We are from the same place (Florida). His mom is proud of him just like my mom is proud of me. I have love for him and his career, and I would never want to hurt anyone like that. It was just a bang-bang play and something that I wish I could have back.”
The Vikings didn’t buy that spin, mainly because defensive end William Hayes went after Bridgewater’s knee in the third quarter, a hit that did not spark yellow because it was out of the pocket.
“(Joyner is) full of crap,” Vikings guard said guard Brandon Fusco said. “I saw it. I don’t agree with the hit 100 percent. I think every time we play St. Louis it’s that type of game.”
Former Pro Bowl safety and current NBC analyst Rodney Harrison claimed the play was “typical” for a Fisher team, and also said the Rams coach once laughed at Harrison while on the ground injured.
“I wasn’t surprised because it happened to me in 2006,” Harrison said. “Bobby Wade, wide receiver, came and chopped my knees, tore my knee up. I’m laying on the ground looking at Jeff Fisher and he is smiling and laughing, so this is typical of a Jeff Fisher team.”
Rodney Harrison just went IN on Jeff Fisher pic.twitter.com/EpwMei6NFH
— Big Cat (@BarstoolBigCat) November 9, 2015
The bigger issue is that Fisher is the co-chair of the NFL’s competition committee, which oversees the game’s rules, many of which are designed with player safety in mind.
So, even if you want to call the Vikings’ charges sour grapes and Harrison’s accusations unfair, the fact that this coach felt it was a good idea to bring Williams back into this league is a problem.
“I hope Teddy Bridgewater is OK,” Fisher said. “I know that there were some feelings that Lamarcus Joyner did something on purpose. The fact that Lamarcus Joyner dove the same time that Teddy Bridgewater slid is one of those things that happens. Lamarcus Joyner is not that type of player. He is a class kid. I am just concerned for Teddy Bridgewater and I hope he will be alright.”
Fisher has been around long enough to understand his actions speak way louder than his lip service.
— John McMullen is a national football columnist for FanRagSports.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @jfmcmullen — Also catch John this season on ESPN Southwest Florida every Monday at 3 PM ET; on ESPN Lexington every Thursday at 6:05 ET, and live every Tuesday from 2 to 6 PM ET at the Golden Nugget Casino in Atlantic City for the NFL Wraparound on ESPN South Jersey.
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