Justin Jefferson posted 159 receiving yards, tied a record, lost a fumble, saved a chain and showed up the Chicago Bears all in a single game.
It was an eventful night for the Minnesota Vikings wide receiver but not enough to save the team from a 34-28 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in the “Thursday Night Football” opener on Prime. The All-Pro finished the night with 11 catches on 14 targets while facing off against Darius Slay, who was responsible for one of his quietest games last season.
That yardage was enough to give Jefferson 5,000 for his career in his 52nd game, tying him for the fastest player to the mark in NFL history. He matched Hall of Famer Lance Alworth for the milestone while becoming only the second player, after Randy Moss, to reach the 5K plateau before turning 25.
Additionally, Jefferson passed the 5,059-yard mark, which gives him more receiving yards than any player in the 100-plus-year history of the Bears after three seasons and two games. He passed a fellow by the name of Johnny Morris, who played flanker and halfback for Chicago from 1958 to 1967.
The Bears’ historical woes at wide receiver are well established, as you can see from the fact that Alshon Jeffery, who played four seasons in Chicago, sits at No. 3 on the all-time list. He is the only wide receiver in the top five.
Justin Jefferson lost a fumble and a chain vs. Eagles
Jefferson accounted for 42.5% of the Vikings’ total yardage, but he wasn’t without his hiccups. The biggest came at the end of the first half, when an ill-advised attempt to extend the ball resulted in a fumble through the back of the end zone, giving the Eagles a touchback.
It’s one of the dumbest rules in sports, but that didn’t help Jefferson in what ended up being a potential 10-point swing after the Eagles hit a field goal to end the half.
Later, as the Vikings were driving to get back in the game in the fourth quarter, Jefferson hauled in a 22-yard pass to continue the drive and lost a neck chain in the process.
Ever the heads-up player, Jefferson quickly recovered the chain and threw it to the sideline as the Vikings regrouped for the next play.
No one ever said being the NFL’s top wide receiver was simple.
Jefferson has been worthy of that title arguably since he entered the NFL. He opened his career with a rookie-record 1,400 receiving yards after being selected 22nd overall in the 2020 NFL Draft, then built on it with 1,616 yards in 2021 and an NFL-best 1,809 yards last season.
With 309 yards through two games this season (a 2,627-yard pace), Jefferson is showing no signs of slowing down.