MINNEAPOLIS — Stefon Diggs started quickly and precisely and improvised late.
The Vikings rookie receiver used his quickness to get open and cross up Chiefs defenders in the first quarter, reeling in four catches for 81 yards in the opening stanza of his first career start.
Clear separation led to gains of 16, 31, 14 and 20 out of the gate. Diggs also came through in the clutch by keeping alive the play and finding an opening in the defense as Teddy Bridgewater moved around the pocket.
"When you're running a route, if the initial route isn't open, if the quarterback is still on his feet, the play is still going on, so you try to find something to open lanes for him," Diggs said.
"It's all about trust. I trust Teddy, and he trusts me. You develop it as the game goes on," Diggs added. "If you're reliable and catch the ball for him, he's going to trust you to be out there, especially because I'm a young guy. I'm just developing and trying to earn my stripes. Once I get that trust, I'm going to keep it."
The result was a gain of 30 to convert third-and-15 from the Minnesota 15-yard line just three snaps after the Chiefs pulled within three points. The drive continued and concluded with a 45-yard field goal by Blair Walsh for a 16-10 lead with 4:51 remaining.
"Kansas City had only rushed three defenders, so I knew that I would have a little time back there," Bridgewater said. "Stefon did a great job of just staying alive and understanding down and distance, the offensive line did a great job of protecting on that play and allowing me to move throughout the pocket. Like I say, Stefon was in the right place at the right time."
Diggs finished with seven catches for 129 yards (18.4 yards per reception) a game after posting six for 87 in his debut in Denver.
Diggs had been inactive in the first three weeks of the regular season, but that was more about the depth that the Vikings have at the position. The depth was tested because of injuries to Charles Johnson (ribs), who missed a second straight game, and Jarius Wright (hand), who returned to the lineup and had two catches for 69 yards.
"We all knew he could ball the whole time," Mike Wallace said. "It was never a question of that, but it was just a matter of opportunity. Every time I do an interview I say I think we have guys that can play on any roster in the NFL. So I think he's a great player. Humble kid, and he's going to keep working, I know it."
During that time, Diggs didn't get down. Instead, he kept studying up on film. He said he learned a significant amount from Maryland receivers coach Keenan McCardell, a former 12th round pick in 1991 who played in the NFL until 2007.
"It's how you study," Diggs said. "There are different angles of the film, and you see how people's bodies are and how they react to certain things, what foot they step with, what hand they jab with, little things like that that you pick up watching film, so studying is big for me."
Adrian Peterson called Diggs a "game changer."
"We have other guys that are game changers as well, and it's just all about having an opportunity," Peterson said. "If we keep doing the things that we're doing, we know that [Offensive Coordinator Norv] Turner is going to put us in the best position to try and win."