MINNEAPOLIS — It was hard to tell who had the bigger smile plastered across his face in the Vikings locker room Friday night.
There was Chad Beebe, the 5-foot-10 wide receiver who could be playing his way onto the 53-man roster with his constant clutch performances.
And there was Jake Wieneke, the Minnesota native who was reveling in his own memorable moment less than 20 miles from his hometown.
“It’s just a lot of fun to go out there and catch a couple of passes,” Wieneke said. “And to get the win was amazing.”
Beebe and Wieneke helped lead the fourth-quarter comeback for the Vikings as each made numerous clutch plays down the stretch in Minnesota’s thrilling 21-20 win over the Seahawks on Friday at U.S. Bank Stadium.
The Vikings trailed 20-13 with just under three minutes left when Seattle punted the ball away to Beebe. He scampered down the left sideline for 34 yards, and the Vikings were in business at their own 47-yard line.
“We had a great job of blocking up front. It was a left return, and guys were getting good leverage on their blocks,” Beebe said. “I knew that if I turned it up, it would open up.”
Beebe then had two catches for 25 yards to move Minnesota into the red zone, but the Vikings soon faced a do-or-die situation with fourth-and-15 from the Seattle 25-yard line.
Vikings quarterback Kyle Sloter was flushed out of the pocket and went to his left before firing a dart into the end zone and into the hands of Beebe for the touchdown.
“I just saw Sloter roll out, and I knew it was a scramble situation,” Beebe said. “I just started streaking across the middle there. We locked eyes and he found me and put the ball right on me.
“It’s always exciting to score a touchdown,” Beebe added. “Obviously I’m a rookie, so getting in the end zone is a fun time.”
Said Sloter: “It just happened to be a broken play. I saw Beebe and tried to put it in a place so he could make a play.”
That cut Seattle’s lead to 20-19 with 47 seconds remaining, but the Vikings were going for the win.
Sloter hit Wieneke with a quick pass in the right flat on the 2-point conversion try. The Maple Grove native pinballed off multiple defenders before he tucked the ball just inside the pylon for the eventual game-winning play.
“It was a pretty special feeling,” Wieneke said. “When I saw the ball in the air I knew I had to catch it and do anything I could to get in the end zone. When I got in, it was just an amazing feeling.
“When you catch the ball, you just have to turn and see,” Wieneke added. “I knew I couldn’t go down until I crossed the line.”
The 2-point play was the second memorable moment of the night for Wieneke, who grew up a Vikings fan with posters of players on his bedroom wall.
Sloter also found Wieneke for a 1-yard touchdown catch earlier in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 13. The quarterback completed 11 of 15 passes for 85 yards and a passer rating of 126.4.
Which play was better?
“They were both awesome,” Wieneke said. “Just the way the team congratulated me and celebrated me.”
Wieneke was a standout at South Dakota State before signing with the Vikings after going undrafted in the spring. He’s now soaking in the moments of playing in Purple for his hometown team.
“It’s been amazing,” Wieneke said. “I’m just enjoying every second of it.”
“This is what I’ve dreamed about since I was little,” Wieneke added. “Now that I’m here, I’m very blessed.”
Beebe, meanwhile, continued his strong preseason showing.
He now has nine catches for 95 yards and two touchdowns in three preseason games. Suddenly, the undrafted rookie free agent out of Northern Illinois might be making enough noise to land on Minnesota’s active roster next weekend.
Beebe said he wasn’t about to stop putting in the time and effort that has gotten him this far.
“Just continue to eliminate mistakes in the mental part of the game,” Beebe said. “Obviously I have a lot to learn being a rookie so just continue to be in the playbook.
“It’s just kind of day-to-day. Just staying focusing on the task at hand,” Beebe added. “I’ve put a lot of work in, so to be honest with you, I’m not surprised. But I’m just going to continue to do the work.”