SEATTLE – A week after Vikings receivers Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs combined for just 10 catches in a loss at New England, the star duo had even fewer grabs during Monday night’s 21-7 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
Thielen’s first target — and catch — didn’t come until the middle of the third quarter. He finished with a flurry of five catches for 70 yards, including a 35-yard grab in garbage time. He was caught by a sideline microphone being angry on at least two occasions, but afterward Thielen was diplomatic about why he wasn’t targeted sooner.
“I have no idea,” Thielen said. “I’ll have to go look at the film. I don’t know what it was.”
Quarterback Kirk Cousins targeted either Diggs or Thielen on 13 of his 33 passes, finding them for nine catches for 146 yards. The reason for their recent slump, according to Cousins, has been the way defenses are consistently clamping down on both Thielen and Diggs.
Thielen started the season with eight straight 100-yard receiving games, but he’s topped the century mark just once in the five games since. Cousins pointed to a couple of first-half third downs where he said the Seahawks coverage led him not to throw to either receiver.
“There were two third downs early where they truly were doubling Adam and Stefon in a way that they’re not going to get the ball, shouldn’t get the ball,” Cousins said. “That was where I threw the ball to Aldrick [Robinson], trying to get him down the middle one-on-one. The safeties are so enamored of Diggsy and Adam that it’s literally cover-0 for Aldrick.”
The Seahawks’ coverage on the Vikings’ duo intensified in third-and-long downs, according to Cousins.
“Probably more important is let’s stay out of third-and-12,” Cousins said.
But as he had against New England, Cousins had plays in Seattle where his top receivers were left waving their arms in the air to get his attention. That included the fourth-and-goal throw from the Seahawks’ 1-yard line, where Thielen appeared open but Cousins threw an incompletion to tight end Kyle Rudolph.
And on a second-and-14 play. Diggs ran open across the middle when Cousins turned around and threw a backward pass to running back Latavius Murray, who gained two yards leading to the aforementioned third-and-12.
“I’m not the only one, and I draw a lot of attention at times,” Diggs said. “Sometimes I get triple-teamed. So, there are other guys open and they’re working hard, too, and Kirk is doing his best. That happens in games. You can’t see everything all the time. So, I’ve just got to continue to get open.”