It was a 62-yard punt return and near-touchdown that highlighted Stefon Diggs' preseason NFL debut against the Pittsburgh Steelers. It was another special teams outburst that highlighted the former Maryland Terrapin's encore, too.
With 14:11 remaining in the third quarter on Saturday night vs. Tampa Bay, Diggs took a punt from Michael Koenen at his own 40-yard line. Then he did that thing with which many from College Park are familiar, finding a hole and cutting up the field, then dancing and dipping to tack on another 10 yards or so to the end.
In all, Diggs returned the ball 37 yards to Tampa Bay's 23-yard line, setting up the Vikings for a drive beginning just outside of the red zone. He finished the game three punt returns for an average of 18.3 yards per return.
On the offensive side of the ball, Diggs lacked a big play, but still showed flashes of what he does best -- working in space.
His first catch (which may or may not have hit the turf) was a bubble screen that allowed him to elude defenders as he often does, turning a short pass into an 15-yard gain.
There were two missed scoring opportunities that stand out, with fault for one likely falling on Diggs and the other more the fault of rookie quarterback (and Old Dominion product) Taylor Heinicke.
On the first, Diggs nearly had his first career touchdown on a pass from Shaun Hill. The throw may have been a bit high, but the outstretched Diggs saw the ball skip off his fingertips in the end zone and fall incomplete on a corner post route as a defender closed in.
On the second with 12:26 to play in the fourth quarter, Diggs put a double move on a Tampa Bay cornerback as he ran a go route down the far sideline that freed him up for a clear path to the end zone. Heinicke, though, was looking at the near sideline and overthrew target Ryan Whalen.
Stretching the field, though, won't be Diggs' focus once he cracks the regular wide receiver rotation. It is those bubble screens and slants where he will make his money, where he can take a short gain and turn it into a big play by making defenders miss.
Diggs finished the game with two catches for 26 yards and the Vikings topped the Buccaneers, 26-16.