Vikings Pro Bowl wide receiver Adam Thielen, who led the league with 11 touchdown receptions entering Week 12, was ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers while undergoing COVID-19 reserve list protocols.
Thielen, a Minnesota native, is no stranger to the plight of Vikings fans and took the same ride from his living room on Sunday, watching his team’s rollercoaster 28-27 comeback victory over the Panthers.
His wife, Caitlin, recorded Adam’s reactions to the final moments of the game as Kirk Cousins led a game-clinching drive down the field. In true Vikings fashion, it took more than a go-ahead touchdown with 46 seconds left to put the game away. It took a little luck with a wide left field goal attempt by Panthers kicker Joey Slye — a point of anxiety for Vikings fans who are still haunted by Blair Walsh’s wide left kick in the 2015 playoffs.
Here’s a glimpse into Adam’s storm of emotions as the Vikings’ playoff chances were preserved with the win, now just one game back from the seventh seed in the NFC.
— Will Ragatz (@WillRagatz) November 29, 2020
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Sunday afternoons in the Thielen house aren’t often as vibrant with Adam being one of the league’s most consistently healthy players in the league. Thielen had played 87 consecutive games through 2019 before he suffered a hamstring injury.
While last Sunday was a rare occurrence, it gave Caitlin a chance to see what life would be like down the road, while Adam got a taste of the emotional rollercoaster of watching your loved ones play.
Her Instagram post read:
I feel like I got a glimpse of retirement today and it was strange to say the least lol! Someday I’ll have three grown boys going crazy on the weekends watching football. Now Adam knows how stressed us wives/family members feel when watching the games each weekend.
Their son, Asher has already been baptized in the toil of Vikings fandom after watching the team’s disappointing loss against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 11.
I mean…everyone feels it Asher!😢Still proud of our #19 💜 pic.twitter.com/8Ky3XwXBua
— Caitlin Thielen (@MRS_T_19) November 23, 2020
Jefferson Shines In Thielen’s Absence, Beebe Sees Redemption
The Vikings entered Sunday’s game with the best red-zone offense in the league, largely thanks to Thielen who’s scored seven of his touchdowns inside the 10-yard line.
Rookie Justin Jefferson, who has excelled in his own right, applied a few nuances of Thielen’s red zone route running and caught two touchdown passes from 10 and 12 yards out. He finished the game with seven catches for 70 yards in his first test as a true No. 1 wide receiver.
Jefferson’s second touchdown brought the Vikings within three points with six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, but a muffed punt return by third-year wideout Chad Beebe seemingly decimated the Vikings’ chances of winning.
The defense did not falter, forcing Teddy Bridgewater and the Panthers to settle for a field goal, leading to Cousins’ game-winning drive where the offense went seven plays for 75 yards, capped by a redemptive touchdown by Beebe — the first of his career.
“There’s so many emotions when things like that happen, but just trying to stay calm as best you can,” Beebe said after the game. “I gotta give credit to Kirk, he’s a true leader and he just exudes confidence and we all felt that. When you have that feeling you feel like you always got a chance to win.”
Beebe credited the team for never giving up in a game that forced the group to mature.
“We missed Adam a lot,” Beebe said. “We did a lot of growing up today which is awesome to see. It’ll be exciting going forward when we get Adam back. Our group got a lot better today and a lot of exciting things ahead.”
Trevor Squire is a Heavy contributor covering the Minnesota Vikings and journalism graduate from the University of Minnesota — Twin Cities. Connect with him on Twitter @trevordsquire and join our Vikings community at Heavy on Vikings on Facebook.