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Vikings' Adam Thielen gets record 7th straight game of 100-plus receiving yards

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Minnesota Vikings safety George Iloka summed it up perfectly in a tweet Sunday afternoon, capturing the essence of wide receiver Adam Thielen's consistency in every game this season.

Thielen rewrote the NFL record books midway through the fourth quarter of his team's 37-17 win over the New York Jets, becoming the first player in the Super Bowl era to record 100 yards receiving in each of his team's first seven games. The late Charley Hennigan is the only other player to achieve the feat, doing so for the Houston Oilers -- then in the American Football League -- in 1961.

Thielen sparked Minnesota's scoring attack on his team's first possession, capping a four-play, 68-yard drive with a 34-yard catch for a touchdown. The reception was Thielen's deepest of the season, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. Thielen had been targeted 30 or more yards downfield only one other time in 2018.

"I was just trying to run as fast as I could," Thielen said. "It was just a straight go ball, and I think [Vikings quarterback] Kirk [Cousins] pretty much caught that ball for me. Just threw it in a perfect spot. If it was an inch left or an inch right, it probably would have been incomplete. He put a perfect ball in there, and [I] just had to try to finish the play as best I could."

Minnesota's opening-drive touchdown marked Thielen's fourth straight game with a receiving touchdown. The last Vikings player with a longer streak within a season was Randy Moss in 2004.

By the end of the game, Thielen had 67 catches on the season, eclipsing Keenan Allen's 2015 record of 62 receptions in his team's first seven games, according to Elias Sports Bureau research.

Part of Thielen's success in 2018 points to the difficulty the Vikings pose on offense. When fellow receiver Stefon Diggs is being shadowed by a No. 1 cornerback, Thielen is often able to maximize his matchup. Against the Jets, Thielen was regularly seeing double-coverage from Parry Nickerson and Jamal Adams, but he still broke free on nine catches for 110 yards and a touchdown.

"They were double covering [Thielen] a lot today," Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. "They doubled him, and they doubled Diggs, so we probably need to adjust to that a little bit quicker. But Adam, when he gets the opportunities one-on-one, he has a good chance to win -- plus, Kirk puts the ball in places that he can catch it."

Thielen averaged 2.4 yards of separation in Week 7, which is a large factor in his ability to get open for Cousins and capitalize on the chemistry the two have built in the early part of the season.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, Cousins was 9-of-10 passing for 110 yards and a touchdown when targeting Thielen, including 4-of-4 with a TD on throws at least 10 yards downfield. Cousins was 3-of-10 with a touchdown targeting all other receivers at least 10 yards downfield.

"He's a great player," Cousins said of Thielen. "Ultimately, he's a great person. It starts there and the way he approaches everything he does. I'm lucky to play with him. The Vikings are lucky to have him. He's a special player and a special teammate and deserves the success that he's having. Hopefully there's much more ahead because he's the kind of guy, along with a lot of guys on this team, that deserve to do great things."

Minnesota's up-and-down day on offense halted the team's ability to move the ball throughout the first half, so Thielen had to wait until the fourth quarter to eclipse the century mark with a 21-yard reception with 7:06 to play in the game.

Thielen was injured three plays later when he was hit by Adams and was seen spitting up blood momentarily on the television broadcast. The receiver said he believed he cut something in his mouth upon being hit.

"He got me in the chest, knocked the wind out of me and got me in the jaw a little bit," Thielen said. "It was a good, clean hit, obviously. We'll see it on film. They're a good, physical bunch, and he's a good football player. I knew at some point he was going to get a piece of me."

Thielen leads the league in receiving yards (822) through seven games, a byproduct of his being half of the NFL's top quarterback-receiving duo. The receiver said postgame that he might not be able to appreciate everything he has accomplished throughout his career until after he retires, but he said he shares his latest achievement with those he believes play an integral role in his success.

"I got a lot of really good people around me," Thielen said. "You know this game -- obviously, life is all about the people that are around you, and I have so many great people in this locker room and the coaching staff, obviously, that have helped me get to where I am. So there's too many people to thank, just to be able to play this game that I love and that I've been playing since a little kid."