MINNEAPOLIS — The question was a head-scratcher for Vikings receiver Adam Thielen: When was the last time he scored a rushing touchdown?
He thought about it and thought about it. He came up empty. He could not remember a time he had a rushing TD — not in the NFL, not in college, not in high school, not even before that.
“That was the first time I’ve ever done it,” he said Sunday, Sept. 22.
Thielen scored the Vikings’ first touchdown in a 34-14 victory over the Oakland Raiders the way he usually does — with a reception. He had a 35-yard catch-and-run less than four minutes into the game.
In the second quarter, he went from wideout to running back, scissoring in from the left to take a hand off and score from the 1-yard line to give the Vikings a 21-0 lead.
“The coaches did a great job of game planning that one and getting it run,” Thielen said. “It’s something we’ve been practicing for a while and finally called it.”
Thielen touched the ball only four times in the game. He had three catches for 55 yards. In three games, he has 11 receptions for 173 yards and two TDs, way below his impressive pace from last season when he caught 113 passes for 1,373 yards.
You won’t hear him complaining, certainly not after a win.
“When we win, we’re controlling the ball, and that’s our strategy,” Thielen said.
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer appears content with Thielen’s diminished catch count — as long as the team wins.
“Adam does a lot of things. Blocks. Does the dirty work. Obviously, he’s got a lot of other things we can do with him we haven’t shown yet,” Zimmer said. “He’s a great competitor. I’ve always said that about Adam. The catch he made on the sideline was outstanding. We’re glad he’s ours.”
Thielen could be used again as a runner near the goal line, but with running backs Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison — both of whom also ran for touchdowns — he said he doesn’t think he is in the mix for goal-line carries.
“I don’t think so,” he said. “I’m still auditioning.”