In Week 13 against the Carolina Panthers, Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen recorded his first touchdown in the NFL when he blocked a punt and returned it to the end zone. In the final game of the season against the Chicago Bears he was able to get another touchdown, but this time it was his first one on the offensive side of the ball.
There were two plays in the third quarter that saved the game for the Vikings and Thielen was a part of both of them. The first was a third-and-9 when the Vikings were on their own 34-yard line. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater dropped back to pass and was met with pressure but was able to escape the pocket and buy extra time. He hit Thielen over the middle for a 22-yard gain and a new set of downs.
On the very next play Bridgewater was able to find Thielen again, but this time it was for a touchdown. Thielen found himself wide open behind the coverage and Bridgewater was able to hit him in stride and he strolled in untouched for a 44-yard touchdown.
“I think (the Bears) dropped coverage,” Thielen said. “I believe that one guy was playing Cover-2 and the rest were playing man and I inside-released him and Teddy found me.”
After scoring his first offensive touchdown Thielen threw the ball up into the stands, a celebration that may have seemed odd at first as one would think he would want to keep the ball to remember the experience. He explained, however, that he saw his fiancé in the stands and was throwing the ball up to her.
“My fiancé was sitting there so I wanted to give her the ball,” Thielen explained. “It was my first touchdown ball so hopefully she caught it.
“I saw her but I didn’t see her catch it or anything, hopefully she didn’t fight too many people for it.”
His fiancé, Caitlin Graboski, tweeted a photo of herself with the ball.
This season, Thielen has been an important piece for the Vikings. He is not one of the focal points on the team, and not even on the field every play, but he has always been there to step up whenever his team has needed him. Whether it has been making a big play on special teams, or filling in on offense when he needs to, he has always been there.
Although the opportunities haven’t come too often, he has always tried to make the most of them.
“You might not get a lot of opportunities, but when you do you got to make the most of them because you don’t know when your next time will be,” Thielen said. “It’s just one of those things where I want to go out there and do it for my teammates who I’ve been working with since last May and it was just good to get the victory.”
Thielen was not drafted but was still able to make it on the Vikings practice squad last season as a free agent. He came into this season wanting to make the 53-man roster and did everything in his power to do that.
That determination to make the team really left a mark on his teammates, and left them impressed with him as a player.
“When (Thielen) first showed up, the way he went about his business, the way he hustled, played on special teams, and then the way that he ran routes – he’s precise – you can tell he tries to do things the right way, and he’s an athletic guy,” said safety Harrison Smith. “So he’s made plays all year, especially on special teams, and now I think we got to see a little more of him on offense.”
“I’m very happy for Adam,” Bridgewater said. “Adam was one of the first wide receivers that stood out to me when I arrived here. He competed with us in the rookie minicamp and just showed flashes ever since then. He’s a guy that works hard every week, whether it’s on special teams or on the offensive side of the ball or even if he’s giving our defense a look on the scout team. I’m glad to see that he was able to score his first receiving touchdown today.”
Even though it is starting to look like Thielen will have a place on the Vikings roster for the next few years, he refuses to look at it that way. He just wants to keep focusing on what his job is and what the coaches ask him to do.
“I just want to go out there and do my job and do what the coaches ask me to do to help this team win,” he said.
Thielen impresses, gets first TD catch
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