Minnesota Vikings left tackle Matt Kalil was not a happy man during his team's 34-14 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night. It wasn't the final score that had Kalil beside himself (though that didn't help, to be sure), it was Kalil's sense that he had to protect his teammates when he was on the field. An honorable thought, but when you get busted twice for unnecessary roughness and cost your offense 30 yards as a result, that's not good. Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier pulled Kalil off the field for a play, and Kalil eventually calmed down.
But if there was one play in that game that should have the Vikings' blood boiling, it was the block by 49ers backup guard Joe Looney on Minnesota defensive tackle Kevin Williams. With 10:45 left in the third quarter, San Francisco running back LaMichael James took the ball from quarterback Colt McCoy and ran to the left. Looney kicked up to the second level, whiffed a block on linebacker Chad Greenway and crossed back to block Williams down, diving directly at Williams' right knee. Williams was on the ground for a time, and had to be helped from the field. He will have an MRI on Monday to determine the severity of the injury.
After the game, the Vikings were not impressed with what they saw.
“I was just upset that I’m getting cut [after] 11 years in [the NFL] from a guy who I don’t even know,” Williams, the six-time Pro Bowler and five-time First-Team All-Pro, said. “I figure the pain and the fact he cut me when I wasn’t looking was my reaction.”
"The guys upstairs were telling me that was one of those where we will probably want to send it into the league, so I’m looking forward to seeing it," Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier said. "They were pretty upset when they saw it. I’ve got to take a look at it.”
When he looked at it, Frazier most likely saw what should be a textbook violation of the league's new rules against peel-back blocks. The new point of emphasis was the result of an October 2012 play in which then-New York Jets guard Matt Slauson went low on Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing, who suffered a torn ACL and missed the rest of the season. That play happened in the tackle box, which was legal at that time. The league removed that provision in the offseason and made peel-back blocks illegal anywhere on the field, and contact below the waist has been a point of order this preseason.