MINNEAPOLIS –Adam Thielen felt the ball in his hands and didn't look back.
On second-and-10 from Minnesota's 35, Case Keenum targeted Thielen, who made the catch just shy of the 40. He immediately hooked to the inside of the field past Dominique Hatfield and sprinted straight ahead and all the way into the end zone. The touchdown was Minnesota's third of the day and gave the Vikings a two-score lead over the Rams.
"It was zero coverage, so I think Case knew he had to get the ball out quick," Thielen said. "He knew that I was 1-on-1, and I knew that as well, so I knew that I had to catch it and move fast. Once I broke the first guy, I just knew that I had to run as fast as I could."
Thielen had some words of advice from teammate Stacy Coley in the week leading up to Sunday's game.
"First I was just trying to beat my guy across from me," Thielen said. "[Stacy's] been telling me to just run. Last week I looked back, so this week I just looked forward [and ran]."
Keenum also commented on the scoring play.
The signal caller observed that Los Angeles was in Cover 0, which called for the free safety to move up in the blitz rather than hanging back in the middle of the field.
"We had a great play call, [Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur] did a great job," Keenum said. "The offensive line did a great job, because they're bringing more than we can actually block, and it gave me enough time to find [Thielen] with a quick little throw, and that's what happens."
Thielen finished the game with six catches for 123 yards. It marked his third 100-yard game of the season and came one week after his 166-yard performance at Washington.
The Minnesota native now has 916 receiving yards on the year, which is the third-most receiving yards by a Viking through the first 10 games of a season. Randy Moss had 1,023 in 2003 and 920 to start the 2000 season.
But Thielen really isn't concerned with the numbers.
"Obviously Randy is an idol of mine, a guy who made me want to play the game and made me want to play receiver. So very thankful for what he did for me in this game, and I have a lot of respect for him," Thielen said. "But I'm not even thinking about stats right now or anything like that. Just trying to win games."
Thielen's effort certainly played a part in Minnesota's 24-7 win over Los Angeles to move to 8-2 and hold steady at the top of the NFC North.
In addition to the long touchdown, Thielen made a number of other good grabs, including a 12-yard catch on third-and-7 after Keenum escaped heavy pressure.
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer was asked by a reporter following the game if he's ever still surprised by Thielen.
"It used to, but he's just a playmaker," Zimmer said. "I think they named that show after him."
Vikings cornerback Terence Newman weighed in on Thielen's abilities and said that Thielen's biggest strength is in running routes.
"I think, honestly, speed doesn't really make a huge difference, unless you're running a go-route. Running routes is somewhere where it's good to have speed, but I think it's more important to be able to get in and out of breaks well, and he's super crafty at that," Newman said. "I remember when I first got here, you know, he's an excellent route runner, and one of the coaches on offense asked me, 'Who's the best route runner?' And I think I said him and somebody else, I don't remember who at the time, but he was one of them.
"And it's funny, too, because it's almost like guys don't really believe it until they get to play against him, and it's week-in and week-out, he makes plays," Newman added. "That's all he does."
Thielen wasn't the only one making big plays on offense Sunday.
Kyle Rudolph also had a solid outing, snagging five catches for 58 yards. One of the grabs came between two defenders, when he reached over linebacker Alec Ogletree for a jump ball and a 28-yard gain that moved the Vikings into Rams territory.
"It was impressive," Thielen said of the catch. "We expect that from Kyle. It's almost weird because that's not a normal play. That's a big-time play, big-time catch, but he does that all the time. In practice, in games, we love the player that he is, and he's such a great teammate and such a selfless guy. A guy that just puts his head out there and blocks and keeps grinding and grinding. So it's good to see him making plays in the pass game."
Rudolph blocked well throughout the game and also came up with a significant play when he broke up a near-interception in the second quarter. He said the team's philosophy heading into the matchup was to keep grinding to wear down the Rams defense.
"We kept running two and three tight ends, C.J. [Ham], trotting big people out on the field and just wearing them out," Rudolph said. "Next thing you know, Latavius [Murray] pops out for a big run, we hit Adam [Thielen] for a big touchdown, and that's when the big plays happen."
Added Rudolph: "It wasn't always pretty early, but we just wore them down, and we got some big plays."
In addition to Thielen and Rudolph, seven other Vikings caught passes from Keenum to help the offense drive the field and get to the end zone.
Thielen gave credit to Keenum, who now has logged nine games – and eight starts – in Purple.
"Each week he kind of just understands what we kind of all like as receivers, as playmakers. He kind of understands how we do things, how we like to get open, and he's just a hard worker and wants it so bad, so it really has made it easy to kind of have that transition," Thielen said. "We love the way he plays the game.
"He plays with a lot of passion and gets us in the right spots, and we're very thankful to have all the guys in that [quarterback] room," Thielen added. "Even today, Teddy [Bridgewater] did such a good job of just talking to us on the sideline and telling us what he sees. So it's obviously just great to have a really good group."