“It takes a lot for him to say something to you, but it lets you know how passionate he is,” safety Duron Harmon said. “People don’t see that emotion come out of him a lot, but it lets you know he’s not only passionate about the game, but he’s also passionate for his players. We appreciate when we get to see that every once in a while.”
“Bill’s fiery,” added safety Devin McCourty. “We see it every day, so I think it’s probably a lot cooler for you guys to see it.”
Belichick was caught telling Thielen to “shut the f*** up” after throwing his challenge flag to contest a fourth-down conversion by Vikings running back Latavius Murray. Thielen, who had shouted his own fair share of words at Belichick, was displeased because he thought the Patriots scavenged some extra time to request the replay review with safety Patrick Chung down on the field.
“I just thought the play was cheap,” Thielen told reporters after the game. “It’s a smart football play. If you are in that situation, why not? It’s not cheating because there’s no rule against it from a guy going down, and I don’t know if he was hurt or not. He might’ve been hurt, that’s fine, it is what it is, but like I said, just interesting timing for a guy to go down when it’s a close play.’’
Chung, who said he was OK after missing a few plays and returning to action, said Thielen “can think what he wants to think.”
As the officials got between Belichick and Thielen, Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy also jumped in on the action. Van Noy said his message to Thielen was to get back in the huddle and play the game.
“I thought the coolest thing was KV had Bill’s back right away,” McCourty said. “He jumped in Thielen’s face. I love when we get in games like this, just going back and forth. I’ve talked to Thielen a bunch of times off the field, a great guy, but everybody’s out there battling and it’s all about sometimes football comes down to a yard and we’re out there on fourth-and-1 fighting for a yard. Obviously, as a defense, we all thought that was a fourth-down stop, but it is what it is.”
The ruling on the field was ultimately upheld — burning another Patriots timeout for their second lost challenge on the day — and the Vikings continued their drive. They ended up turning the ball over on downs seven plays later.
Theilen acknowledged after the game his emotions got the best of him during the heat of the moment. The 28-year-old said he has to “keep [his] cool” and noted he “can’t lose it like that” in the future. Patriots wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, who had roomed with Thielen back when he was a member of the Vikings for four seasons, wasn’t surprised by the fiery spat.
“Once you tick [Thielen] off, he explodes,” Patterson said. “He’s gotta calm down sometimes. But he’s a great guy on and off the field.”