The play of the night in the Vikings’ 14-3 win over the Steelers in Sunday night’s Hall of Fame game was rookie fifth-round draft pick Stefon Diggs returning a 57-yard punt 62 yards to the Pittsburgh 1-yard line.
Yes, it was an outstanding effort on Diggs’ behalf. He followed the blocking scheme early and made guys miss toward the end of the run. But this play was the result of everybody doing their job and following the scheme designed by special teams coordinator Mike Priefer.
“It was just great blocks,” Diggs said. “I tried to set up some great blocks. There were some key blocks down the stretch and I was just trying to be quick and make plays with my feet.”
The first key was former CFL linebacker Brian Peters being alert and intelligent enough to avoid what could have been an illegal block in the back near the point where Diggs caught the ball. Rookie fullback Blake Renaud avoided a similar situation early in the return as well.
Linebacker Josh Kaddu had the key block that enabled Diggs to turn the corner. Linebacker Michael Mauti followed with another key block. Cornerback Josh Thomas also got in the way of a defender near the end of the run as Diggs was weaving his way through traffic before reaching the ball to the goal line.
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer thought Diggs scored, so he challenged the call and lost.
Diggs was asked if he thought he scored.
“I didn’t get the call,” he said. “I’m going to try and say yes, but I tried my hardest.”
Diggs said it was a good NFL debut overall. But he didn’t sound satisfied.
“I made some mistakes that you might not have been able to see,” he said. “I just want to get better all-around and contribute more.”