In last year’s regular-season finale against the Chicago Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium, Minnesota Vikings star wide receiver Justin Jefferson was on the verge of breaking yet another team record. As time wound down, he was just 16 yards short of Randy Moss’ single-season team record for receiving yardage at 1,616. However, rather than running a few more pass plays, then-coach Mike Zimmer decided to just run out the clock.
(Yes, Kirk Cousins threw a touchdown pass to K.J. Osborn on a play where Jefferson was wide open in the end zone, too. But there were still chances to be had for Jefferson after that point.)
After the game, Zimmer said that he didn’t care about records, only victories. That victory ultimately didn’t matter for anyone, really, as both Zimmer and GM Rick Spielman were fired the day after the game. As for Jefferson. . .well, he’s not mad about not getting the record.
#Vikings Justin Jefferson has gotten over Mike Zimmer not giving him a chance to break Randy Moss' team receiving yards record in the 2021 finale. "I wasn’t even too much worrying about it then. It is what it is. At the end of the day, I was just going to break it the next year’’— Chris Tomasson (@christomasson) July 25, 2022
Jefferson, apparently, stopped worrying about it right after the game and seems to be pretty confident that he’s going to break the mark this year. He very well could, particularly if he plays the role in the Vikings’ new offense that everyone seems to expect him to.
In his first two seasons with the Vikings, Jefferson already possesses two of the five highest single-season receiving totals in franchise history. His 1,616 yards from last year is second all-time, while his 1400-yard rookie season is fifth overall. Moss owns the other three spots in the top five (1,632 in 2003, 1,437 in 2000, and 1,413 in 1999). He also owns the record for most receiving yards in a player’s first two years, and can set the record for receiving yardage by a player in his first three seasons by racking up 1,148 yards this season, which is currently held by Moss. I’ve got a strange feeling he’s going to get there. He’ll get there pretty early, too.
So don’t feel too bad for Justin Jefferson about not breaking Randy Moss’ record(s) last season. He certainly doesn’t feel too bad about it anymore.
(Hat tip to Jordy McElroy from The Vikings Wire for finding the Jefferson quote first.)