Minnesota Vikings WR Justin Jefferson has career best 184 receiving yards, surprised by 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 the secondary Green Bay Packers on Sunday, bagging a slew of wide-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 pounded their NFC North rival, 23-7, at US Bank Stadium. But it was the nature of Jefferson’s catches that were so astonishing.

Jefferson had an average throw of 4.0 yards on his 11 targets, according to ESPN Stats & Information research, and got 138 of his receiving yards on plays when he had at least 3.0 yards away. And at 64 yards that netted a field goal in the second quarter, there was no defender within 10 yards of him.

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

The Vikings played their first game on new coach Kevin O’Connell’s schedule, and Jefferson said he expected to see the usual double teams and cloud cover he’s grown accustomed to during his first two seasons in the league. However, he was surprised to see that the Packers did not consistently ask Alexander to follow him in the coverage.

Alexander was also surprised. Asked about the possible match-up, Alexander first made the lip movement, then said, “All week, [he was] to ask for that matchup. But it’s not about me. It’s about the squad. It’s not about me. If it was my way, you know what I’d do.”

O’Connell’s plan was partially responsible. Jefferson was lined up all over the field, making it difficult to follow. Jefferson took 41 snaps on the outside, 12 in the slot, two in the backfield and one as a tight end. Nearly half of his total yards (91) came on those plays from the slot with the other 93 from the outside, making him only the second player in the past seven seasons to amassed at least 90 yards from both the slot and the outside.

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

“I absolutely love the moves,” 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.

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