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Thielen: 'Cheap' play prompted spat with Belichick

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The competitive nature between opponents was on full display in Sunday's game between the Minnesota Vikings and New England Patriots.

Television cameras showed Vikings receiver Adam Thielen and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick exchanging words in the fourth quarter near New England's sideline.

Belichick challenged a call on the field after Vikings running back Latavius Murray rushed for 1 yard on fourth-and-inches for a first down, and Thielen took exception to Patriots safety Patrick Chung falling to the ground with an apparent injury.

"Yeah, obviously, I got to keep my cool," Thielen told reporters after the game, via the Vikings' official website. "I got a lot of respect for him [Belichick] and what he's done. I can't lose it like that, but I just thought it was interesting timing for a guy to go down when it was a close play that could have been reviewed. So for me, I just lost my emotions."

Officials quickly stepped in to pull Thielen away from the Patriots' sideline and Belichick, who continued to shout at the Vikings receiver.

When further pressed, Thielen emphasized he took issue with Chung going to the ground and not Belichick.

"I just thought the play was cheap," Thielen said. "I wasn't directing it toward him. I just thought the play was cheap, but like I said, I let the emotions get the best of me because 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 have 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."

Belichick didn't win the challenge but the Patriots would go on to win and move to 9-3 on the season, while the Vikings dropped to 6-5-1.

Thielen told reporters he did not talk to Belichick after the game, and he was not upset over what happened.

"No offense taken," Thielen said. "It's football. There's emotions. He can think what he wants to think about me and it doesn't really change how I'm going to go play the game. He can hate me all he wants and I'm still going to be the same person I am. I'm going to try to go out and do my best, and I'm going to try and compete every play."

Belichick attributed the confrontation as two competitors "exchanging holiday greetings" when asked about the incident during his postgame press conference.

"Yeah, pretty much," Belichick said with the slightest hint of a grin.

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