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After Further Review: Wide Open Spaces

After Further Review is a deeper look at plays or stats the day after Vikings games...

MyCole Pruitt took a quick glance and had one thought, "Don't drop it."

Pruitt had 5 or more yards of space in every direction when he welcomed the ball thrown by Mike Kafka into his hands at the 15-yard line. The fifth-round pick cruised into the end zone for his first touchdown in the pros — a 34-yarder, no less — and second catch of the night.

Pruitt led Minnesota with four receptions for 51 yards as the Vikings beat the Steelers 14-3 Sunday night in the Hall of Fame Game at Tom Benson Stadium in Canton, Ohio.

The touchdown was one of two plays of more than 20 yards in the game. How'd it work?

The Vikings lined up with Stefon Diggs on the outside to Kafka's left and Cordarrelle Patterson in the slot to Diggs' right. On the right side of the line, the Vikings lined up Pruitt between fellow rookie T.J. Clemmings at right tackle and tight end Rhett Ellison.

Pruitt got a clean release from the line as Ellison dropped into pass protection to allow the play to develop.

Diggs, who was against single coverage, used his speed to get down to the end zone and take his man with him, and Patterson's threat drew multiple defenders when he ran a crossing route angled toward the right side of the field. Matt Asiata cut underneath from right to left, drawing another defender, and Pittsburgh left Pruitt unaccounted for as he crossed opposite of Patterson to a spot deeper than Asiata.

"It was a great call, a great play design, said Pruitt, who has found similar openings in practices but said "maybe one time in college" on if he'd ever been that open in a game. "Stefon Diggs and Cordarrelle were able to clear out that side of the field for me, and when I came over there, it was wide open and I just had to get into the end zone."

Tight end Kyle Rudolph, who had the first and third catches of the night for 11 yards apiece, said multiple factors were involved.

"He's a heck of a player, and his speed creates problems for people," Rudolph said. "He was running under Cordarrelle on that play on a crossing route. It's always nice when your first touchdown is that wide open, so that you can catch it and walk in."

It's also worth noting that Pruitt, whose father, grandmother and uncle were in attendance, was involved on Minnesota's longest rush play, an 18-yard gain by Matt Asiata. Pruitt was tasked with clearing the edge and stonewalled 2015 first-round pick Bud Dupree.

Head Coach Mike Zimmer said Pruitt "had a couple nice catches."

"The guy is very fast. He's had great hands all camp," Zimmer said. "That showed up a couple of times tonight. I think he's going to continue to get better. He's a good kid."

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