EAGAN, Minn. – In the midst of a furious Steelers comeback, K.J. Osborn gave Minnesota some breathing room.
The Vikings previously had racked up a 29-point lead but then allowed 20 unanswered points by Pittsburgh of an eventual 36-28 win by Minnesota.
Minnesota needed a statement score, and Kirk Cousins made it happen. On first-and-10, three plays after a James Washington touchdown for the Steelers, Cousins launched a deep ball downfield to Osborn, who caught the pigskin in stride and ran into the end zone.
"It's exciting … when you hear the play call, because obviously nobody else knows what the call is. You're coming out of the huddle like, 'OK, this place is about to erupt.' But after that, you just kind of lock in and execute," Osborn told media members Friday morning. "That was my first deep ball in U.S. Bank Stadium; that was my first touchdown in U.S. Bank Stadium. You would imagine the ball is in the air forever and you have time to think about it, but it wasn't like that."
The 62-yard flashy score provided a bit of breathing room for fans, but Osborn called the play "routine" for him and Cousins.
"Me and Kirk have been hitting on some deep balls in practice since training camp," Osborn said. "You could definitely feel the energy, though. I've daydreamed about that moment so many times, scoring in 'The Bank' in front of our fans and them popping the fireworks.
"I was telling my cousin that it almost gets so loud in the moment — and it's on Thursday Night Football and my first one at 'The Bank' — it's almost so loud in your head that it gets quiet. Like, 'Woah,' " Osborn said. "It was fun, and I'm so happy I was able to get that done."
As were his teammates.
Dalvin Cook, who racked up 205 yards and two touchdowns in the win, said Osborn's touchdown helped swing momentum back Minnesota's way.
"That kind of took us to the point where, 'Yeah, we're still here. We still can score.' It gave our defense some momentum because we were shooting ourselves in the foot by throwing interceptions and turning the ball over and not converting first downs," Cook said. "We were giving them the ball back so quick, so for us to go get that quick-strike and kind of show them we settled down, 'We got y'all, just like we have been in the first half,' so just regrouping and doing our thing."
The score enlivened a packed U.S. Bank Stadium, although Osborn said he "didn't even realize" the tremendous spark his touchdown created.
"You know, you're kind of just in it and in the flow of the game. I did realize before that we needed a big play," Osborn said. "Being able to get that big touchdown, get 'The Bank' rocking, get that energy back on the sideline … I noticed how big it was after the game.
"During, I was still locked in," he added. "It was still, you know, a tight game that came down to the end. But at the end, I realized that was a big play at a big time."
Osborn continues to show his talent and abilities when called upon.
The second-year receiver answered the call in Adam Thielen's absence, enthusiastically assuming a larger role in the offense.
Osborn's 83-yard outing was his second-highest thus far as a Viking, closely trailing the 91 yards he racked up at Arizona in Week 2, which included a 64-yard touchdown for his first career score. And while he certainly appreciates the opportunity to step up and show out, he remains humble and willing to help the team in whatever way he's asked – big or small.
"That's just the team. I know Justin [Jefferson] is going to get a lot of double coverage, even when Adam is out there," Osborn said. "I play with two superstars that I'm blessed to play with, so I know sometimes they're going to get the double coverage and Kirk has to have another option to throw it to, and that just allows me to step up."
The offense joked, Osborn said, that Jefferson – who had seven catches for 79 yards and a touchdown – might get triple-covered with Thielen sidelined.
"You know, they're going to make [Kirk] throw it to somebody else, so it just helps me step up. That's what you want in those moments and the NFL," Osborn said with a smile. "Justin is a fantastic player. I know that he deals with a lot and the expectations that he has, so I'll just be out there trying to help him out.
"I love to see how excited he gets when I score," he added. "He's really excited for me that I got my start. We have a good relationship, going way back to the combine. It's fun being out there and playing with him."