Vikings win opener in preseason

Published 9:20 am Monday, August 10, 2015

By Chris Tomasson
St. Paul Pioneer Press

CANTON, Ohio — Shaquille O’Neal used to regularly ask, “Can You Dig it?’’ With an adjustment for spelling, the Vikings certainly did Sunday night.

Rookie wide receiver Stefon Diggs provided the highlight of the night in Minnesota’s 14-3 win over Pittsburgh in the Hall of Fame Game before 22,364 at Tom Benson Stadium.

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Diggs returned a third-quarter punt 62 yards down the left sideline to the 1-yard line. That led to a touchdown run by Joe Banyard with four minutes left in the quarter in the NFL’s preseason opener.

Diggs, a fifth-round pick out of Maryland, has been the talk of Vikings training camp, especially after an electrifying showing in an Aug. 1 night scrimmage before 10,300 fans in Mankato. He is pressing Marcus Sherels for the job of punt returner.

Until Diggs’ return, it was a game with few big plays. Then again, there weren’t many starters getting much time.

Vikings running back Adrian Peterson didn’t play, and isn’t expected to at all during the preseason. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and other offensive starters were in for just one series.

Bridgewater did look strong, completing 5-of-6 passes for 44 yards and rushing once for six yards. He led the Vikings on a 51-yard drive on their first possession before running back Jerick McKinnon was held to no gain on fourth and 1 at the Pittsburgh 10.

“It’s great to get the season finally started and be out here on this stage,’’ Bridgewater said. “Good for us to face a different team instead of ourselves in training camp. It’s special to be able to play in fron of the new hall of fame class and pay respects to the players who came before us.’’