After the first half of play at U.S. Bank Stadium on Saturday afternoon, things were looking pretty bleak for Justin Jefferson as it relates to his quest to become the first 2,000-yard receiver in NFL history. I mean, it was looking sort of bleak for everyone in a Minnesota Vikings uniform, but this story is about Jefferson so we’ll just look at him.
By the time the dust settled and the smoke cleared, however, Jefferson had done enough to keep himself on the correct pace to reach that plateau.
Jefferson had just three receptions for 17 yards at halftime of Saturday’s game, but finished the afternoon with 12 catches for 123 yards and a score as the Vikings put together the biggest comeback in NFL history and clinched the NFC North division title.
The NFL’s best wide receiver needed to average 125 yards/game over the Vikings’ final four games to reach the 2,000-yard mark, so putting up 123 yards on Saturday means that he’s juuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuust a little bit under that pace. Now he has to average 125.6 yards/game over the final three games to get to the 2,000-yard mark, not 125. I don’t think that extra .6 of a yard per game will hurt him too much.
Jefferson is now on the verge of breaking Randy Moss’ Vikings single-season receiving yardage record as well. Now sitting at 1,623 yards, he’s just nine behind Moss’ mark of 1,632 that he set in 2004. So, basically the next time Jefferson catches a pass he’s going to set that record. And he’ll, presumably, set it in 15 games so there won’t be any sort of an asterisk attached.
The final three games of the year for Jefferson and the Vikings will see them facing the New York Giants, who currently rank 17th in the NFL in passing yardage allowed, as well as the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears, both of whom Jefferson has lit up already this season.
Justin Jefferson is doing what he needs to do to accomplish his stated goal of being the first receiver in NFL history to have 2,000 yards receiving in a season. Here’s hoping that he can keep up that pace for a few more games and actually get there.