The Vikings were short-handed at receiver Sunday in Denver, but those who were on the field elevated their game against the Broncos.
With Charles Johnson ruled out Friday, and Jarius Wright dealing with a hand injury since the win against San Diego, other receivers knew they needed to rise up in the Rockies.
Mike Wallace notched season-highs of eight catches for 83 yards, Adam Thielen posted career highs of six catches and 70 yards, and Stefon Diggs made a mark in his NFL debut with six catches for 87 yards, including two receptions that gained 25.
"Those guys did a great job today. You talk about Mike, eight catches. Stefon Diggs, six catches, Adam Thielen coming in making plays for us, big third-down catches to change the field for us, so overall, it was a team effort," quarterback Teddy Bridgewater said. "Those guys did a great job in their route running and you talk about changing it up with Cordarrelle (Patterson) coming in off the sideline to make plays for us."
Wallace, an offseason acquisition via trade, scored his first touchdown as a Viking, a 4-yarder a play after he reeled in a gain of 18. The TD was set up by a 32-yard interception return by Anthony Barr just before halftime.
It wasn't quite enough in a 23-20 loss to the Broncos that was sealed by Denver's seventh sack of the game. The play included a fumble that was forced by T.J. Ward and recovered by Von Miller with 29 seconds remaining.
Denver entered the game ranked number one in passing yards allowed 176.3. The Vikings gained 269 on 27-of-41 passing by Bridgewater but lost 57 on the sacks for a net of 212.
An encouraging aspect, however, was Vikings receivers often created separation from a secondary with multiple Pro Bowlers.
"They've got a good secondary all the way around, each and every one of those guys, so as far as separation, I just do what I can," Diggs said. "If you play like that on the road all the time you're going to win a lot of games. This is the worst way things could have gone. We didn't get the W, but we're going to get in the lab, get back on the field and do everything we need to do in order to win. We're learning we're all fighters on this team, too. Nobody is going to give up or quit, no matter the circumstances."
Diggs fumbled the ball two times after catches but recovered each time.
"He did like I expected him to. He put the ball on the ground twice, which you can't do," Head Coach Mike Zimmer said. "He's learning. I thought Thielen did a good job today, Wallace. I thought Teddy, when we gave him some time, I thought he played well and on the later stages of the ball game we got him into some no huddle and took advantage of some things there."
Diggs, a fifth-round selection who led the Vikings in receiving during the preseason, said he plans to evaluate and look for things he can do better in future opportunities, starting with ball security.
"When you've got the ball in your hand, you're the most important man in the organization at that point, so I've just got to do a better job with that," Diggs said.
The Vikings (2-2) have a bye next week before hosting Kansas City Oct. 18.