The year was 2014. On the final day of November, a little-known player found his way to the end zone for the first time in his career.
Vikings receiver Adam Thielen, who had one snap on offense and 20 on special teams that day, slipped up the middle on a punt, blocked it, recovered it, and returned it for a touchdown.
It happened against the Panthers, the team Thielen officially joined on Sunday.
The 30-yard return of a blocked punt, which happened with seven minutes left in the opening quarter, became a franchise record. It lasted less for less than 15 minutes of clock time. With 9:35 to play in the half, defensive end Everson Griffen returned another blocked punt 43 yards for a score.
Thielen would catch only eight passes for 137 yards that year. He’d generate only 144 yards the next. His career finally took off in 2016, with 967 receiving yards.
Well before that, he helped cement his opportunity through special teams, and his special play on November 30, 2014 helped the Vikings beat the team Thielen has now joined.
Coincidentally, Thielen’s former team is scheduled to visit Carolina this season. While he likely won’t be blocking any punts, he could be ready to score a touchdown or two when he finally gets a crack at his former team.