By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — When Adam Thielen got upset on Sunday in Foxboro, it appeared as though he had a right to be. As Thielen explained in his own words, it was awfully convenient that Patrick Chung suffered an injury at the same exact time that Bill Belichick needed some extra time to have his coaches watch replays to determine if a game-changing challenge flag should have been thrown.
If Chung was indeed faking an injury, then he certainly wouldn’t have been the first player in NFL history to do so in order to give his team an advantage of some sort.
Alas, Chung does appear to have actually been hurt on the play, as the safety was listed on the Patriots’ injury report on Wednesday as a limited participant with a shoulder injury.
And a look at the coach’s film on NFL Gamepass shows that Chung was doubled over in pain immediately after the play in question ended, long before he could have even known that his head coach was contemplating a challenge.
Watch Chung come out of the left side of the screen and dive forward through the line of scrimmage, falling into the backfield. When he gets up, he leans over, clearly feeling pain. He might have gotten attention from the officials on the field if he they hadn’t been so busy trying to (incorrectly) spot the football.
All of that took place before the officials had even spotted the ball. Chung was either actually hurt, or he has a future career as a soothsayer.
Thielen said after the game (and after his verbal spat with Belichick): “I just thought the play was cheap. … 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, 31, has a reputation as being a tough, hard-nosed player. Belichick has praised him for that. Sometimes it works to Chung’s detriment and danger. He went the entirety of the 2016 season without appearing on the injury report once. This season, he appeared just once before, after suffering a concussion in Week 2. He made just one appearance on the injury report last year. The man is tough.
He’s also a smart, veteran player, so if he were to drop to the turf in some faux pain in order to help his coach, it would not have been a complete surprise. But, looking at the film, and looking at Chung’s rare appearance on the injury report, it appears as though this one was honest.