Sitting at 8-1 following a thrilling Week 10 victory over Buffalo, the Vikings will go as far this season as their star wide receiver will take them.
The Minnesota Vikings had zero business winning Sunday’s game in Buffalo against the Super Bowl favorites, especially after facing a 17-point deficit with less than two minutes left in the 3rd quarter.
It was a combined team effort to overtake the Bills. The defense forced three Josh Allen turnovers, Dalvin Cook rushed for 119 yards, and Kirk Cousins threw for 357 more. But the undisputed hero of Minnesota’s 33-30 overtime comeback victory was Justin Jefferson, who caught 10 passes for 193 yards and a touchdown. One of those catches was one of the greatest we’ve ever seen in the NFL.
After the two-minute warning in the fourth quarter trailing 27-23, Minnesota faced a 4th-and-18 at its own 27. Buffalo had a 92.9% win probability going into the play, according to ESPN. Then Jefferson made the insane one-handed grab people will be talking about for a long time.
The 32-yard grab kept Minnesota’s hopes alive, but Buffalo still had a 67.6% chance of winning at the time. The Vikings were actually stopped short of the end zone on fourth down, turning the ball over to Buffalo. But a muffed snap by Allen inside his own end zone was recovered for the go-ahead score with 41 seconds left, only to see the Bills drive down the field and kick a field goal to force overtime.
After a 12-play Vikings drive took 6:18 off the clock and led to a field goal to go up 33-30, Allen threw an interception to Patrick Peterson in the red zone on the ensuing possession to seal an improbable victory. Minnesota now sits at 8-1 on the season.
“It felt like it was unreal. Like a movie,” Jefferson said. “The big games, the big moments, when people are looking for you to make a play, that’s what I like the most.”
How unreal was Jefferson’s day on Sunday? Nine of his 10 catches had a catch probability of under 50%, according to Next Gen Stats. That’s not only the most catches of its kind in one game in the NGS era, the next closest receiver had just six.
The 23-year-old is off to one of the greatest starts to a career an NFL wide receiver has ever had. It was the 20th 100-yard receiving game of his career, breaking a record shared by Randy Moss and Odell Beckham Jr. for the most in a player’s first three seasons. It was his seventh game of 150-plus yards, breaking a record shared by Moss and Lance Allworth for the most in a player’s first three seasons. Jefferson surpassed 4,000 career receiving yards in his 42nd career game, tying Allworth and OBJ as the fastest to do it in NFL history.
Jefferson trails just Miami Dolphins receiver Tyreek Hill in FanDuel MVP odds for a non-quarterback, as they’re the only two receivers with 1,000 yards right now. The Minnesota WR is also among the league’s best in all the important statistical categories for receivers:
- No. 1 with 117.8 receiving yards per game
- No. 1 in yards per touch, with 15.1
- No. 4 with 1,060 receiving yards
- No. 4 with 69 receptions
- No. 4 among all players in yards from scrimmage, with 1,073
- No. 10 with 15.4 yards per reception
Yet despite having the league’s second-best record behind the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles, the Vikings are still +1300 to win the Super Bowl according to FanDuel SportsBook, tied with Baltimore for the fifth-best odds. With the LA Rams, Tampa Bay, and Green Bay struggling, this could be the year where Minnesota not only makes the Big Game for the first time since 1976 but wins it for the first time.
If the Vikings get close, we all know Jefferson will be the biggest reason why.
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