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Adam Thielen laments Vikings' inability to 'check the last box'

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) attempts to catch a touchdown pass against the Philadelphia Eagles in the third quarter during the NFC Championship game Sunday, Jan. 21, at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. Bill Streicher / USA TODAY Sports

PHILADELPHIA—Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen won't be going to the Super Bowl as a player. That was decided Sunday night, Jan. 21, when the Eagles demolished the Vikings 38-7 in the NFC Championship Game.

Even though Super Bowl LII will be played at US Bank Stadium in his home state of Minnesota, Thielen won't be going as a spectator, either. That was decided Sunday night, too.

"I'll watch it, but at this point, there is no need for me to go," Thielen said.

When he attends a Super Bowl, he wants it to be as a player.

Less than five minutes into Sunday's championship game, it was looking as if Thielen and the Vikings had a chance to become the first team to play a Super Bowl in their home stadium.

They took a 7-0 lead on Case Keenum's 25-yard touchdown pass to tight end Kyle Rudolph on the opening drive Thielen helped with a 12-yard reception on a second-and-7 play from the Vikings' 49.

And then, about four minutes later, Keenum's throwing arm was jarred and a pass intended for Thielen was intercepted by Patrick Robinson and returned 50 yards for an Eagles touchdown.

And the Vikings never recovered.

"I saw the ball come out (of Keenum's hand) kind of funky," Thielen said. "At that point, I tried to run down and stop him."

There was no stopping Robinson or the Eagles after his score. The Eagles snatched momentum from the Vikings and kept it.

"We didn't make plays to get momentum back," Thielen said.

All season, in all but three games before Sunday, the Vikings found ways to retrieve momentum, and Thielen played a significant role. He had 91 receptions for 1,276 yards and four touchdowns in the regular season and was chosen for the Pro Bowl.

A native of Detroit Lakes, Minn., who played his college ball at Minnesota State Mankato, he became a favorite among Vikings fans because he was one of their own, and because he was very good. That's not something he thinks about, though. Not now. Not yet.

"When I'm done playing, I'll reflect on this year," he said.

He has other thoughts now.

"I'll think about what could have been done to win this game," he said.

He will think about how close he came to playing in a Super Bowl.

"We had bigger goals than making the NFC Championship Game," Thielen said. "Our ultimate goal was to go to the Super Bowl. We didn't check the last box. We checked a lot of other boxes."

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