Two penalties from Vikings loss are not sitting well with Ron Rivera

Two flags from Vikings loss aren't sitting well with Ron Rivera originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Two penalties — one that cost the Commanders the chance to tie or win Sunday's game against the Vikings late and one that took a Washington touchdown off the board — were at the top of Ron Rivera's mind during a Monday morning session with reporters.

The former infraction, which was an unnecessary roughness call on defensive lineman John Ridgeway for forcibly contacting the long snapper on a go-ahead Minnesota field goal in the fourth quarter, gave the visitors a free first down and allowed them to drain the vast majority of the remaining time before kicking again.

The Vikings' initial key three-pointer went through with 1:52 left. But due to Ridgeway's apparent mistake, Kirk Cousins and his offense were able to waste more than a minute and a half before Greg Joseph officially clinched the contest with 13 seconds to go.

Rivera rewatched the tape on Monday and was vexed by that flag.

"I don't agree with the call," the coach said. "I went and looked at it, looked at it, looked at it, looked at it and he didn't hit him with his shoulder pads, he didn't hit him with his helmet. He crossed over and caught him with his hip. He was going to the gap."

Immediately following the conclusion of the Week 9 matchup at FedExField, Senior Vice President of Officiating Walt Anderson explained the problem behind Ridgeway's actions.

"The rule protects the long snapper on field goals and point after attempts," Anderson said. "You cannot make forcible contact to the head and neck area because he’s by definition defenseless until he has time to protect himself or to move down field, then he’s no longer defenseless. So the call there was No. 91, the defender, made forcible contact to his head and neck area immediately after the snap and before he had time to protect himself."

Rivera, though, doesn't believe that Ridgeway hit the snapper violently enough to draw a whistle.

"I'm going to ask for an explanation just so we know," Rivera said. "He didn't hit him with his helmet, he didn't hit him with his shoulder pads. He ripped across and caught him with his hip going across. If he had hit him with his helmet or shoulder pads, I would not have an issue with it."

Here's a clip of the sequence:

Perhaps the Vikings' snapper, Andrew DePaola, flopped, but there does seem to be a solid collision between him and Ridgeway. In that situation — where getting the ball back is the first and most vital step for a potential Commanders comeback — Ridgeway's rush was too aggressive in hindsight and put the referees in a position to penalize him. 

Rivera was also upset at the pass interference on Benjamin St-Juste from earlier in the fourth quarter that erased a pick-six by the corner.

To Rivera, both St-Juste and receiver Justin Jefferson were battling on the outside. He also thinks the inaccuracy of Cousins' pass should've been, but wasn't, considered by the refs.

"As the route develops, Jefferson tries to use his hands to get a little separation and Benjamin reaches back and punches him with his," Rivera said. "When they both stop and turn, they've both got their hands on each other. And then, when the ball gets thrown, it's thrown really toward Benjamin more than toward Jefferson. It's going to hit Benjamin, I believe, on the left side, which is away from Jefferson."

Had the interception and return stood, Washington would've been a PAT away from a 24-7 advantage. Instead, Minnesota stayed within shouting distance and, ultimately, exited with a 7-1 record.

Like the Ridgeway play, Rivera will be requesting that the league provide an explanation as to what St-Juste did wrong. He's doing so, he said, to better teach the Commanders so they can avoid similar flags in the future.

However, it's not like the officials didn't help out Rivera's squad throughout the afternoon. After all, Curtis Samuel's touchdown wouldn't have been possible without literal assistance from the back judge, while a facemask penalty extended the possession that ended in the team's other end zone trip.