View exclusive images shot by the team photographer from the Aug. 15 preseason game against Tampa Bay.
After Further Review is a deeper look at plays or stats after Vikings games...
Last week, we used this space to discuss ways vertical threats can stretch defenses and create openings. This time, we'll take a closer look at two plays where precise execution of crossing routes created space — and big gains for Jarius Wright and Adam Thielen.
Scene 1: Q1, 13:45 left; Second-and-5 at the MIN 41
Tampa Bay's corners are respecting the outside speed of Charles Johnson and Mike Wallace by lining up eight yards off the line of scrimmage. Wallace and Johnson run vertical routes, but the most important part of the play's success is between tight end Kyle Rudolph and Wright, who was in the slot. Rudolph started on the left side of the line, ran forward and toward the middle, and Wright started on the right side of the line, and ran forward before cutting toward the middle closer to the line of scrimmage than Rudolph.
The Bucs brought five rushers, and the Vikings had running back Jerick McKinnon assist rookie T.J. Clemmings, who was quickly pressed into action because Phil Loadholt suffered a torn Achilles. Wright had a clean release and steered pursuing cornerback Leonard Johnson toward Tampa Bay middle linebacker Bruce Carter, creating a hitch by Johnson that gave Wright extra space. Teddy Bridgewater showed touch on the pass and threw it with anticipation — two qualities for which he's received praise — to hit Wright in stride at the 45 (with 15 yards of running room before the next defender).
Result: A high-percentage pass that traveled four yards beyond the line of scrimmage turned into a 26-yard gain.
The Vikings second-team offense continued the torrid pace of the first team with a pair of touchdown drives against Tampa Bay in the second quarter. Here's a little more on the second.
Scene 2: Q2, 3:52 left; Second-and-6 at the TB 15
The Vikings start the play with Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs lined up close together at wide receiver to the right side of quarterback Shaun Hill. Thielen ran under Diggs, then cut quickly to lose cornerback Sterling Moore and zoom across the field in front of linebacker Khaseem Greene. Hill also showed touch and timing on the pass to hit Thielen in stride at the 14. He quickly turned up field and won a race against Chris Hackett to the pylon with help from a downfield block by Chase Ford on D.J. Swearinger.
All that remained was, as Voice of the Vikings Paul Allen said in the simulcast on FOX 9 KMSP, KFAN and the Vikings Radio Network, was for Thielen's home town of Detroit Lakes, Minnesota to "go crazy" in celebration of the 15-yard touchdown.
Result: Another high-percentage pass resulted in the ultimate goal for the offense.