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The Minnesota Vikings might still be searching for their first-ever Super Bowl title, but their history is loaded with big-play wide receivers. Going back as far as John Gilliam in the early 1970s, the franchise has not lacked big names on the perimeter.

Sammy White. Ahmad Rashad. And, of course, perhaps the two greatest pass-catchers in team history: Randy Moss and Cris Carter.

With Adam Thielen having moved on to the Carolina Panthers, the door is wide open for Justin Jefferson, the latest Vikings receiving superstar, to spread his wings.

Justin Jefferson continues to re-write the Vikings and NFL record books

Justin Jefferson just completed his third NFL season after bursting onto the national scene by catching touchdowns from Joe Burrow and winning a national championship in 2020 at LSU. Jefferson rode a record-setting four-game stretch to finish the 2022 season with a league-high 128 catches and 1,809 receiving yards. Jefferson was named the Ap Offensive Player of the Year.

In those four games spanning Weeks 10-13, Jefferson racked up 577 receiving yards, the most by any Vikings receiver ever in a four-game stretch. The previous record was held by Sidney Rice, who had a four-game run with 553 yards in 2009 as the Vikings advanced to the NFC Championship Game. Carter had the mark before that with a 537-yard run over four games in the 1999 season.

Jefferson added another milestone to his already expansive list of achievements, joining Moss and Odell Beckham Jr. as the only wide receivers in NFL history to accrue 1,250 receiving yards in each of his first two seasons.

Jefferson played a key role in guiding the Vikings to their first NFC North championship since 2017. Minnesota ran away with the division, finishing with a 13-4 mark, four games ahead of the Detroit Lions. A Pro Bowler in each of his first three NFL seasons, Jefferson had his first All-Pro season in 2022.

Jefferson has proven to be a difference-maker

Moss’ explosive rookie campaign helped vault the Vikings into the NFC Championship Game in the 1998 season. Although the Vikings were the third seed in the NFC last year, they fell at home to the sixth-seeded New York Giants. Jefferson was held in check in the 31-24 loss, going for seven catches for 47 yards. He had one catch in the second half.

Jefferson is young. He’s got plenty of NFL life left. He knows he’s the key to the passing game and the player the team turns to when they need a lift. Jefferson is loaded with confidence. Even in his second season, he knew he was a difference-maker.

“I try to make the most plays I can whenever the ball is thrown my way,” Jefferson told the St. Paul Pioneer Press late in the 2021 season. “And I just like being that momentum-changer for the offense.”

Jefferson made a statement by writing Moss out of the Vikings’ record book, setting rookie marks with 88 catches and 1,400 yards. He’s getting much more comfortable working with quarterback Kirk Cousins. Cousins feels the same way.

“He’s not a big guy necessarily, but he plays big with long arms and has a big catch radius,” Cousins told the Pioneer Press. “He runs so well, he cuts so well, he’s great after the catch running away from people. He’s natural at finding the football.”


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