The Bears were not pleased with referee Scott Novak’s crew during and after their 17-9 loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night, a game in which they racked up five personal fouls out of nine total penalties — including a rare flag against coach Matt Nagy for arguing about a call at Chicago’s Soldier Field.
Afterward, they expressed no regrets.
“Some of these calls are starting to get a little crazy,” said pass-rusher Robert Quinn, who earlier Monday was named to his third Pro Bowl. “These refs seem like they’re controlling the game a little too much. So when a play is clean and they’re throwing a flag for something that they thought they could change a game [with] just by one flag … let guys play ball. If this was a couple years ago, half of this stuff wouldn’t even be called. But now they got so many of these stupid rules, they dang near in a ref’s hands [and] could change the game in any given moment.
“I think they need to go check the refs they hire and not our coach.”
Nagy was penalized in between the first and second quarters, two plays after Novak’s crew flagged Bears safety Deon Bush for a hit to Vikings tight end Tyler Conklin‘s head on an incomplete pass. The NFL’s officiating department tweeted that Bush had committed “forcible contact” against Conklin, a contention Nagy hotly disputed during the game.
“I saw what happened,” Nagy said. “Our guys are fighting their asses off to get off the field, and I saw what happened. So I explained my opinion on it. And I don’t regret it.”
Novak told a pool reporter that Nagy used “inappropriate language” during his argument.
“I won’t repeat what was said but when it crosses the line and it’s inappropriate, we throw a flag,” Novak added.
Both teams struggled to keep their composure. Bears defensive lineman Tashaun Gipson Sr. and offensive lineman Teven Jenkins each were penalized 15 yards for post-play aggression toward Vikings players. And Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks was ejected in the fourth quarter for a hit to the head of Bears quarterback Justin Fields, who was sliding and considered down.
“I didn’t get a good explanation, really. They came over late and said they thought he had an elbow to a head,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said of Kendricks’ ejection. “I thought I saw it pretty cleanly, and I thought the quarterback slid and kept his head up, and Eric was going down and kind of raised his head to try to avoid it, and I thought they bumped heads.”
Zimmer said overall he thought his team did a good job keeping its composure in what was a chippy game against a division rival.
“I know that it helped us a couple times because they got 15-yard penalties,” he said. “We try to be a disciplined football team and not do those kinds of things. But when you get your manhood challenged sometimes, you react, and you just have to keep — you know, I talked to the offense, I talked to the defense, about being composed and just doing our job.”
Added Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson: “Chicago [is] always like that. They like to talk trash, get us out of our game a little bit. That’s what they do. We just play our own game, mind our own business, keep playing football.”
ESPN’s Courtney Cronin contributed to this report.