Patriots' Bill Belichick, Vikings receiver have heated exchange during fourth quarter

Elise Amendola | AP

Elise Amendola | AP

It's hard to tell exactly how serious anyone is about him reaching 1,000 yards rushing in his career in the New England Patriots' 24-10 win over Minnesota Sunday.

Thielen also said he won't hold a grudge toward Belichick for the words the coach hurled at him. The coach was asked if it was just a case of two people exchanging holiday greetings.

Despite its seemingly random nature, though, there was a method behind Thielen's on-field madness.

The Vikings had a 4th-and-1 at their 38 down 24-10 in the fourth quarter and went for it. Pats safety Patrick Chung fell to the turf injured, which stopped the clock and gave the Patriots' sideline a chance to figure out if they wanted to challenge the spot on the Vikings' first down.

Thielen was upset about a Patriots player going down with an apparent injury around the same time New England challenged a Vikings first down.

"He jumped in Thielen's face", McCourty said. "For me, I just lost my emotions".

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It's also worth noting that Thielen did nearly nothing of substance after that incident, and actually dropped the next pass thrown his way from Kirk Cousins in what was a failed comeback attempt on the part of the Vikes. He added another 10-yard completion to Diggs four plays later to set up a 5-yard touchdown pass to Adam Thielen that trimmed the Patriots' lead to 10-7 at the half. The quarterback led his Patriots on a 4-play, 75-yard drive in just 1:45, capped by a 24-yard touchdown pass to Josh Gordon. "I wasn't directing it towards [Belichick]", he said, according to the Boston Herald. I've talked to Thielen a bunch of times off the field, great guy. "I've got to get better", Thielen said. If you are in that situation, why not? It's not cheating. There's no rule against it, from a guy going down.

"I don't know. That's something that I can't answer", Cook said. That's fine. It is what it is.

With a nice balance of running and passing the ball on offense along with dominating defensive play, the Patriots extended their record to 9-3 with a statement win that could just carry them through the rest of December and into the playoffs.

Thielen was also likely feeling the frustration of what was one of his worst performances of the season, with just five catches (on 10 targets) for 28 yards and a touchdown.

Thielen told reporters after the game he thought it was a "cheap" play by New England. Following a loss to the Bears in Week 11, Zimmer said the Vikings might have too much volume in their playbook and that focusing on installing fewer new plays and "not trying to trick the other team quite so much" was the best approach to simplifying what they want to do offensively. We've got a lot of guys that can make plays on the offense.

"Bill's fiery", McCourty offered. "I don't want us to go backwards anymore". Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries.

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