EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings invested considerable amounts of time on red zone work this offseason.
Fridays before Sunday games are usually when teams work on a refresher.
The Vikings offense and defense have been pretty crisp so far through the first two weeks of the season.
Minnesota's offense has scored touchdowns on 60 percent of its possessions (three of five) inside an opponent's 20-yard line. That limited sample size is tied for 13th in the NFL. The Vikings have turned both of the goal-to-go situations they've faced into scores.
The defense, meanwhile, has been downright stingy. San Francisco and Green Bay were a combined 2-for-9 when advancing the ball inside the Minnesota 20. The 49ers were 0-for-2 in goal-to-go situations, and the Packers converted on their one series with a fresh set of downs inside the 10.
The Vikings defense ranks second in the NFL (22.2 percent) in red zone percent and is tied for second in goal-to-go percentage (33.3).
The limited real estate at the end of the field helps reduce the amount of space that defenders have to cover and makes it harder for offensive players to create separation, but Minnesota managed to do so on a second-and-goal from the 3 at Green Bay with pre-snap motion by Stefon Diggs.
The receiver started at the right side of the formation and jogged to the left, bringing Packers cornerback Tramon Williams with him. Diggs smoothly reversed his course to get Williams to shift back before bursting back to the left of the play.
Diggs gained a separation advantage before the snap, and it was helped when Kyle Rudolph ran an inward route from the far left. Even though Kirk Cousins' pass was a little off the mark from the accuracy he's shown, the ball had enough oomph, and Diggs had enough space to make a shoestring catch look easy.
"I kind of give all that [credit] to [Offensive Coordinator John DeFilippo]," Diggs said. "He draws it up, and I run it. As far as trying to execute the best I can … the plays work, we just have to do them the way we're told, and they'll come out the right way. I give the credit to the quarterback, the O-line giving us time to work with, that kind of thing."
Diggs said he knew the play was going to be successful before the points went on the board and he did a pseudo leap into the stands.
"I knew. Just because we'd been running it all week," Diggs said. "When you prepare, you prepare as if, 'What if it happens that way or what if it happens this way?' I had a good idea on how it's going to go."
Rudolph explained Thursday how the design of the play accelerated Diggs into a crossing route that legally created another obstacle for Williams, who lost leverage on Diggs before the snap.
"When you can put Stefon with a full head of steam, it's hard on that guy," Rudolph said.
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said pre-snap motions can force a defense to tip its hand.
"Part of the deal is whenever somebody moves on offense, somebody has to move on defense, so if a guy is a little bit late or is looking somewhere else … it's just, especially if they're in man-to-man, then they've got to make adjustments," Zimmer said. "They might be going in and out, they might be locking it up. They might be going with different types of man. All of that stuff has to be communicated by the defense."