Minnesota Vikings WR Justin Jefferson has career-best 184 receiving yards, surprised at open looks against Green Bay Packers

MINNEAPOLIS — It was a scene the Minnesota Vikings could only dream of. Superstar receiver Justin Jefferson ran wild through Green Bay Packers secondary on Sunday, catching a flurry of open passes en route to the best game of his career.

Jefferson had nine receptions for a career-best 184 yards and two touchdowns as the Vikings beat their NFC North rival 23-7 at US Bank Stadium. But it was the nature of Jefferson’s fangs that was so breathtaking.

According to research from ESPN Stats & Information, Jefferson averaged 4.0 yards of margin on his 11 targets and gained 138 of his receiving yards on games when he was at least 3.0 yards of margin. And on a 64-yard pull that set up a field goal in the second quarter, no defender was within 10 yards of him.

“I thought someone was going to come up behind me and attack me,” Jefferson said. “I thought [Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander] had walked with me. But he wasn’t there. It shook me a bit but I’m glad I got to the end zone.”

The Vikings were playing their first game under new coach Kevin O’Connell’s scheme, and Jefferson said he expects the usual doubles teams and cloud coverage he’s become accustomed to in his first two seasons in the league. However, he was surprised to see that the Packers didn’t consistently ask Alexander to follow him for cover.

Alexander was surprised too. When asked about the potential matchup, Alexander first made the lip shake and then said, “All week, [he was] ask for this matchup. But it’s not about me. It’s about the team. It is not about me. If it were up to me, you know what I would do.”

O’Connell’s plan was partly to blame. Jefferson lined up all over the field, making it difficult to track him. Jefferson snapped 41 snaps on the outside, 12 in the slot, two in the backfield, and one as a tight end. Almost half of his total yardage (91) in those games came from the slot with the other 93 from the outside, making him the second player in the last seven seasons to muster at least 90 yards from both the slot and the outside.

Jefferson also went into pre-snap motion on seven snaps and was targeted on four of those plays, including a 5-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter.

“I definitely like the movement,” Jefferson said, “and just seeing the whole field. I’m pretty sure I’ll be doing it a lot more.”

ESPN’s Rob Demovsky contributed to this report.

https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/34575777/minnesota-vikings-wr-justin-jefferson-career-best-184-receiving-yards-surprised-open-looks-green-bay-packers Minnesota Vikings WR Justin Jefferson has career-best 184 receiving yards, surprised at open looks against Green Bay Packers

Emma Bowman

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