MINNEAPOLIS — Justin Jefferson has now had arguably the best season for a receiver in team history. Greg Joseph has the longest field goal in the franchise. And the team itself has performed better in tight games than any other in NFL history.
Those were the historical takeaways from another thriller that saw the 2022 Minnesota Vikings beat the New York Giants 27-24 at US Bank Stadium on Saturday. When it was over:
• Jefferson had beaten Randy Moss’ team record of 1,632 receiving yards. Jefferson also broke Cris Carter’s record of 122 catches in a season, 123 total. With two games remaining, Jefferson is now 209 yards from breaking Calvin Johnson’s NFL record of 1,964 yards in a season.
• Joseph had drilled a 61-yard field goal to win it without wasting time, beating the previous team record by 5 yards.
• The Vikings became the first NFL team to record 11 one-possession wins in a season. Saturday’s game was the sixth the Vikings have won this season by a goal in the last minute of the fourth quarter or overtime, also an NFL record, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
“As much as I don’t like it,” Jefferson said, “it’s normal at this point. We just go out there and just play games and do what we have to do to get the win.”
In fact, the Vikings would prefer to win games in less stressful ways. But last but not least, her tightrope act has now gone down in NFL history. Despite having the second-best record in the NFL at 12-3, the Vikings have not won a game by more than a point since Week 1. It was a notable turnaround from last season when the same core of players lost eight games by one result.
Freshman head coach Kevin O’Connell focused on situational football from day one of training camp, but even he admitted Saturday he never thought the emphasis would be so strong with so many wins in his first season as an NFL coach would play a role.
“Our guys have the ability to play with a calm mind,” O’Connell said, “and just understand pitch and catch situations … and maybe have the best execution on those cases all day [key] Moments, and that’s an issue for our team. Now we have to find a way to create that kind of urgency and level of execution over four quarters and we’re going to see something very special with this team.”
“I have to be up front and make sure I get our team to understand that 12 wins is great,” he added. “We deserved every single one of those wins, sometimes to the end. Mostly to the end. We’re still building something here that we can prepare at any moment [and] Growing as a team, these things are important and we have to use them.”
Jefferson broke Moss’ record on his second catch on Saturday, a 25-yard reception from quarterback Kirk Cousins in the first quarter. Jefferson finished the game for 133 yards on 12 receptions and a touchdown that gave the Vikings a 24-16 lead with 3 minutes left. He now has 1,756 yards receiving yards. Despite having the advantage of a 17-game season, Jefferson broke Moss’ record in 15 games; It took Moss 16 games to get to 1,632 in 2003.
“It’s an honor to break [Moss’] Records and talking to him,” Jefferson said. “But he has the gold [Pro Football Hall of Fame] Jacket. That’s what I want at the end of my career and that’s definitely why I’m still chasing him.”
Meanwhile, Joseph had been working toward this moment all season. His 56-yard field goal in a Week 1 win over the Green Bay Packers equaled the team record, but he later went through a rough patch, missing five consecutive kicks from 50 yards and beyond. He also missed five extra points in a six-game span, but converted 12 straight after making a number of technical adjustments. Joseph hasn’t missed a field goal since Week 8 after converting 13 straight tries.
“I’ve had faith and confidence in myself,” he said. “And I appreciate the trust and confidence that the coach is showing in me.”
https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/35315285/justin-jefferson-tops-randy-moss-vikings-single-season-record Justin Jefferson sets receiving mark on Vikings’ record-breaking day