EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Weathering a quarterback change early in the season for the second straight year, Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen once again led the Vikings receiving corps.
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer praised the duo’s performance throughout the season.
“Those two players are good players. They're very competitive, run good routes, and I think [Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur] does a good job of getting them the football,” Zimmer said. “You know, we’re glad they're on our team. I love the competitiveness of those two guys, and hopefully they'll continue to get better.”
Diggs continued to impress in his third pro season, recording 849 receiving yards and eight touchdowns over 14 games played.
Case Keenum connected with Diggs during the Divisional round playoff game against the Saints with just 10 seconds on the clock, and Diggs’ 61-yard touchdown catch – dubbed the “Minneapolis Miracle” – stole the show and advanced Minnesota to the NFC Championship game.
Zimmer said a few days removed from the splash play that he’s not surprised Diggs has developed into the player he has.
“He works really hard,” Zimmer said. “All of our guys work hard, so it’s not unusual, but he works hard, catches the ball, runs good routes, and I think he tries to get better every day.”
Diggs told media members late in the season that he focuses not on stats but on executing what’s asked of him.
“I just try to do my job – try to have patience with everything. You know, things are going to shake out the way they’re supposed to,” Diggs said. “We’ve got a lot of offensive guys that can have success. So I want to do whatever I can to contribute to the team.”
Thielen is one of the other offensive players Diggs referred to. The two teammates have become close both on and off the field, and each has one has emphasized the benefit to growing together as players.
Diggs said he and Thielen are both “committed to the grind” required to improve on the football field.
“A lot of dedication and a whole lot of time put in,” Diggs said. “We both have the same mindset with what we want to get done each and every day. It’s starting to show.”
When Thielen received his first career Pro Bowl nod after a 2017 performance in which he racked up 1,276 yards, Diggs said he was “so excited” to see Thielen receive recognition for all of his hard work.
“Him being my brother and him being a guy I see … work hard,” Diggs said. “I was just happy for him. Especially coming from our room, we’re prideful of the guys that are in our room. And everybody does everything they can to put their best foot forward and see that guy have success. I’m happy.”
The Vikings also had support from receivers Jarius Wright and Laquon Treadwell, who recorded 198 and 200 yards receiving, respectively.
Wright, the veteran-most receiver in Minnesota’s locker room, continued to be a reliable option for the Vikings offensively. Of his 18 catches, 13 resulted in first downs – including two touchdowns against Tampa Bay and at Washington. Nine of the catches were on scoring drives, and 10 of the 18 were on third downs.
Wright’s 72-percent catch rate ranked first on the team among receivers with at least 25 targets. The 28-year-old emphasized the importance of staying prepared and capitalizing on every opportunity.
“I’ve been in the league six years, so I’m a vet and I know how to prepare, how to handle things, and most of all, I know how to play football,” Wright said during the season. “When it comes down to it, just staying with it throughout the week, always paying attention to what you’re doing. Your number is going to get called.”
Michael Floyd, whom the Vikings signed in free agency, added 78 receiving yards on 10 catches throughout the year.
Rookie Stacy Coley did not make any catches on offense but played in four games and returned a kickoff 19 yards against Green Bay in Week 6.
Thielen said the 2017 receiver group was special.
“We have a phenomenal locker room. Not only on the field, because I think we have some amazing football players, but off the field, it’s been such a pleasure to be around these guys. Our receiver room, I’ve never had so much fun coming to work in my life and I’ve never had so much fun playing football in my life as I had this year. That’s the honest truth.”
*61.9 — *According to Next Gen Stats, Diggs led all wide receivers in “tight-window catches,” catching 61.9 percent of passes thrown to him when less than a yard separated him from the defender.
This one’s easy. The most memorable moment from a receiver during the Vikings 2017 season – and one that will go down in history – was the “Minneapolis Miracle” that occurred during the Divisional playoff game against the Saints.
With just 10 seconds remaining on the clock and 61 yards to go, things looked bleak for the Vikings. Quarterback Case Keenum, however, didn’t give up; rather, he gave Diggs a chance to make a play, and Diggs delivered in a big way. Keenum targeted Diggs as the deepest receiver on the route, and Diggs made the catch, managed to come down in-bounds and over the top of a defender, pivoted and ran straight for the end zone.
The 61-yard touchdown as time expired at U.S. Bank Stadium advanced the Vikings to the NFC Championship game at Philadelphia.
*Regular-Season Statistics *
1,276 receiving yards on 91 catches (14 yards per reception) with four touchdowns and a long of 65; one carry for 11 rushing yards
*Stefon Diggs *
849 receiving yards on 64 catches (13.3 yards per reception) with eight touchdowns and a long of 59; 13 rushing yards on eight carries
198 receiving yards on 18 catches (11 yards per reception) with two touchdowns and a long of 30
200 receiving yards on 20 catches (10 yards per reception) and no touchdowns
78 receiving yards on 10 catches (7.8 yards per reception) and no touchdowns
*Stacy Coley *
Did not record any catches on offense; returned one kickoff for 19 yards
“I think we have a lot of guys who can make plays, and I know it’s difficult sometimes when you’re on the bench and you’re not playing, but we’ve had a lot of guys step up in key situations. I mean, the plays that Jarius has made throughout the season, Mike, Treadwell, obviously Diggs and all of the guys – there’s a lot of guys who can make plays and guys who have made plays in big situations even though they’re not out there every snap. It’s such a fun group, and I’m definitely thankful for those guys because, as a receiver group, we feed off each other.” — Thielen on the mentality of the Vikings WR group