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Deep Passing Plays Spur Vikings Offense in Victory

JACKSONVILLE — The action started early, as in the Vikings first play on offense, when quarterback Sam Bradford connected with tight end Kyle Rudolph on a 44-yard passing play.

That was just a sign of things to come as Minnesota had numerous chunk plays in a 25-16 win over the Jaguars, including three of which that went for 40-plus yards.

"It was great," said Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer. "We had some big plays in there, shots down the field. We had some good catches-and-runs.

"We didn't have hardly any negative plays today so that was a big key," Zimmer later added. "But it was nice to be able to move the ball. We scored 25 points with just this the offense today, so that was good."

While Rudolph's play started the game, Bradford found Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen along the sideline for 41 yards on the first play of Minnesota's second series.

Thielen, who finished with four catches for 101 yards, said he sensed a different vibe from a Vikings offense that had struck for just a pair of 40-plus yard plays this season.

"I think it was just a good feel out there," Thielen said. "I feel like everybody just came in here to win.

"It was good to have that feeling that we knew we were going to win the game," he added.

Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs was next in line for a big play. He hauled in a 45-yard grab with just under five minutes left in the second quarter. Diggs, who had three catches for 55 yards, quipped that he was simply trying to keep pace with his teammates.

"He's kind of like my twin brother, so I try to play as he plays," Diggs said of Thielen. "He made some amazing plays, so I'm out there trying to do everything I can to put us in the best position to score and win the game.

Thielen also caught a 26-yard yard pass, and Zimmer mentioned a 23-yard run by running back Matt Asiata as another key play that went for 20-plus yards.

It was all orchestrated by Bradford, who played a turnover-free game as the Vikings racked up 377 yards of total offense. Bradford completed 24 of 34 passes for 292 yards and a touchdown, compiling a passer rating of 106.5 against the Jaguars.

"We kind of knew going into today that we were going to have some opportunities to take some shots and push the ball down the field, especially early in the game," said Bradford, who had time to throw and was not sacked on Sunday. "That's what we wanted to do, and fortunately we were successful at that and created some explosive plays, which, any time you can do that, it makes it easier for the offense."

Bradford also successfully spread the ball around. Running back Jerick McKinnon had a team-high six catches for 38 yards, and Rudolph had four grabs for 60 yards.

The production pushed Minnesota to 7-6 and kept its playoff hopes alive. After the game, Diggs summed up the Vikings big day through the air perfectly.

"It was aggressive and focused," Diggs said. "You have to have a mindset that they're unwilling to match. "That's what we try to go out and do each and every play," he added. "If you do that then you'll win each play and do everything you need to do to get a win."

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