His speed, hands, route-running and body control have all been marveled at throughout his career. The 23-year-old has posted the most receiving yards by any player in their first three seasons in the league, claiming his stake as the league’s next superstar.
‘Greatness is in His DNA:’ Scout Praises Vikings’ Justin Jefferson for His Toghness
On third-and-2 in the second quarter, Jets safety Jordan Whitehead came barreling down at Jefferson, whose outstretched arms corralling a pass left him in a vulnerable position. The crack of the pads could be heard from the broadcast microphones as Whitehead delivered a vicious hit.
Jefferson was unfazed, popping up and pointing toward the Jets’ end zone.
It was a crucial play that extended an 86-yard scoring drive (the Vikings’ longest of the day) on the first series and highlighted an underappreciated part of a wide receiver’s role.
Taking a hit hasn’t been lost on Jefferson who took a beating from New York — a sign that regardless of his trajectory to stardom in his young career, he hasn’t become bigger than the game.
“Greatness is in his DNA,” an AFC South Scout told Heavy senior NFL reporter Matt Lombardo. “He’s a dawg. Justin just competes at everything, is driven to be the best, and he’s as tough as they come.”
Jefferson also converted a third-and-5 where Whitehead was called for unnecessary roughness for a jarring hit where he was called for leading with his helmet. Dalvin Cook scored on the next play.
Thanks for showing only the one (deceptive) angle. Look again, from the other angle – its total Head-to-Head. No surprise coming from the @nyjets, though. They seem to lead with the helmet all day. pic.twitter.com/WpxRHg3PG9
— Scott Riggs (@scottriggs6) December 5, 2022
Vikings’ Justin Jefferson Lauds Trust & Toughness in Kirk Cousins
Jefferson wasn’t the only one fighting off the Jets’ physical defense.
Kirk Cousins was under duress often and absorbed a handful of brutal hits. It led to the offense sputtering in the second half, producing just 89 yards of offense and allowing the Jets to crawl back into the game.
Cousins looked frantic and had several mistimed connections with his receivers on top of sailing a pass to a wide-open T.J. Hockenson.
But when the game was on the line in the fourth quarter, Cousins came through and found Jefferson in the end zone for what proved to be the game-winning score with 8:33 left on the clock.
“It’s all about the trust. Kirk had the trust to stay in that pocket and launch me the ball. Me having that confidence and seeing a defender coming to hit me and still making that grab. It’s something that we both work on,” Jefferson said in a December 4 postgame press conference. “We just have to keep eating on those, keep having that connection and building off that.”