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Thielen, Rudolph, Diggs Snag Big Catches in Vikings Win

Minnesota' 25-16 season-opener victory at Tennessee was a team win, thanks in part to a group effort by the Vikings receiving corps.

"Those guys made tough plays," quarterback Shaun Hill said following the game. "They made tough catches, they got open. They were great for me today."

Second-year receiver Stefon Diggs said it was important for the unit to support Hill on the field. Hill was **named the Week 1 starter** in place of Teddy Bridgewater, who underwent successful knee surgery Thursday.

"As a quarterback, you want a guy out there that you can trust," Diggs said. "We have multiple receivers that can make plays and play at a high level, so I'm just one of the few guys that's trying to do it – we're trying to do it at a high level and on a consistent basis."

Diggs led the Vikings with seven catches for 103 yards, including a 33-yard haul from Shaun Hill on a third-and-2 situation in the fourth quarter.

"Stefon is a great competitor, number one," Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said following the game. "He catches the ball well, he gets open, he does a lot of the dirty work. We ask him to block, to do a lot of different things. I thought he played well today, made some very good catches."

Diggs sets high standards for himself, however, and said he didn't meet them Sunday. He said he was proud of the team win and high-level play by Hill and his receiving compatriots but didn't consider it a good day for himself.

"I feel like I can do a lot better," Diggs said.

Kyle Rudolph and Adam Thielen also made key catches for the Vikings.

Hill connected with Rudolph four times, all of them double-digit gains. On a third-and-1 early in the fourth quarter, the veteran quarterback dropped back and threw a pass short left to Rudolph, who secured 18 yards before being forced out of bounds. The play improved Minnesota's field position for Blair Walsh, who made a 45-yard field goal at the end of the drive.

Rudolph finished second in receiving yards with 65. 

"I thought Rudolph made some good catches. The one that he dropped between the two helmets would have been a great catch," Zimmer said. "And [Adam] Thielen made a couple good catches on third down."

He added later: "Adam keeps making plays. The more you make plays, the more you get a chance to play."

The Minnesota native's biggest moment came just inside the start of the fourth quarter. With the Vikings facing third-and-15, Hill threw over the middle for Thielen, who made a diving catch for the first down. 

In man coverage, Thielen said he knew he had to beat Titans cornerback Brice McCain to the ball.

"He kind of grabbed me a little bit and kind of inhibited me from getting to that ball, so I had to dive for it," Thielen said. "Shaun put a great ball on it – he knew where I was going to be, and I just had to go get it."

Thielen totaled four receptions for 54 yards, in addition to contributing on special teams with two tackles. Entering his third season on Minnesota's active roster, Thielen is grateful for the larger role on offense but also said his goal to help the Vikings in whatever way possible hasn't changed.

"It's always been good to be on the field and try to help this football team win games," Thielen said. "Obviously the most important thing is getting that win, and we did, so it feels good."

Diggs said Thielen is a secret weapon, of sorts.

"Adam's special," Diggs said. "People don't think too much of Adam because he's kind of quiet and plays a lot on special teams, but he's one of the hardest-working men on the team.

"He pushes me to be better each and every day with those great hands," Diggs added.

The Vikings offense was jump-started by a 61-yard kickoff return by Cordarrelle Patterson to start the second half.

"I saw that fire in a lot of guys' eyes," Patterson said. "Before the play, everyone was saying, 'Let's get a spark. We need a big play.' […] I just try to go out there and help my team out the best I can."

Although the unit was unable to find the end zone Sunday, which will continue to be a point of emphasis and improvement moving forward, the number of big receiving plays kept the ball moving.

"As receivers that's what we want," Thielen said. "We want to go out there and try to make plays for offense."

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