Vikings’ Peterson: ‘What we have in this locker room is very special’

After 30 minutes, it appeared the Minnesota Vikings(11-3) were on their way to one of the most disappointing losses of the season as they trailed the Colts(4-9) 33-0 at halftime. 

However, Minnesota methodically worked its way back, and after a Dalvin Cook 64-yard touchdown reception and a T.J. Hockenson catch on a two-point conversion try, the Vikings tied the game at 36 and sent the game to overtime.

In the extra session, Greg Joseph’s 40-yard field goal with three seconds left gave the Vikings the improbable 39-36 win at U.S. Bank Stadium on Saturday.

With the win, the Vikings completed the greatest comeback in NFL history(the previous comeback record was 32 points by the Bills over the Oilers in the wild-card round of the 1992 playoffs), and they won the NFC North.

“When you got the right kind of guys, and we’ll continue to improve and stress the importance of individual offense, defense, special teams, group improvement, then our team understanding how we can avoid setbacks like we had early on,” Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell said after the win. “We can list those. The list is very large from the things we did poorly in the first half. But I will never discount this team’s ability to overcome and continue to play, play for each other.”

O’Connell also gave credit to Kirk Cousins.

“How about your quarterback?” O’Connell said. “You cannot win the football game the way we had to go win it without your quarterback playing at an incredibly high level.”

Like everybody on the team,  Cousins got off to a slow start. He completed only six passes for 43 yards in the first half, including a pick-6. The second half and OT were a different story; he completed 28 passes. Cousins finished the game with a season-high 34 completions for a career-high 460 yards and four touchdowns. 

These comebacks are nothing new for Cousins, as he leads the NFL in game-winning drives (7) and fourth-quarter comebacks (7).

“Great to win,” Cousins said. “Great to come back. I had no idea it was the largest in NFL history. Something like that doesn’t happen to average people. I’m proud of the way the group did that. Just got to keep building from here.”

Vikings corner Patrick Peterson told the team at halftime that they needed five touchdowns. Those comments resonated with O’Connell.

“Patrick Peterson, I’ll never forget it as long as I live,” O’Connell said. “I addressed the team before we went back out there. I overheard him walk over towards the offense; We’re going to get stops; you just need five touchdowns. That’s nothing. It was a nice little moment for me to lead right in off of. I said, “Pat, you’re exactly right.” That’s what we needed at the time.”

Peterson said the Vikings are a resilient bunch.

“We are just resilient,” he said. “We are a locker room full of guys that believe in one another. What we have in this locker room is very special. We do not want to waste any moment. We continue to make the best of our opportunities.”

Unfortunately, Colts quarterback Matt Ryan knows what it feels like to blow big leads. Ryan was on the wrong side of history in Super Bowl LI when his Falcons blew a 28-3 lead against the Patriots, which is the largest comeback in Super Bowl history.  

He knows more than anybody that anything can happen in the NFL.

“I’ve played in this league a long time to know that a lot of different things can happen,” Ryan said. “Anything can happen. You just have to keep your head down and keep going and find ways to make plays when they present themselves. It’s not much. It’s a handful of plays in a game. It’s three or four plays from an offensive perspective that we’ve got to find ways to execute, and it’s a win. We just didn’t make them.”

No one should come back from 33-0, but weird things happen in sports, and what happened on Saturday in Minnesota was very unusual.


Vikings WR K.J. Osborn notched his first career 100-yard game with 157 yards on the day. Osborn (1,112) has now reached 1,000 career receiving yards.

Justin Jefferson caught 12 passes for 123 yards and one touchdown. Jefferson (1,623) joins Hall of Fame WR Calvin Johnson and WR Antonio Brown as the only players to record at least 1,600 yards in consecutive seasons. In addition, Jefferson (111) became the fifth player ever to record at least 100 receptions in two of his first three seasons, joining Anquan Boldin, Brandon Marshall, Christian McCaffrey and Michael Thomas.

Jefferson, White, Slye win NFC players of the Week

Minnesota Vikings wide receive Justin Jefferson, Buccaneers linebacker Devin White, and Commanders kicker Joey Slye were named NFC Offensive, Defensive and Special Teams Players of the Week for games played in Week 10, the league announced Wednesday.

Offense: WR Justin Jefferson:

Jefferson recorded 10 receptions for a career-high 193 receiving yards and a touchdown in Minnesota’s thrilling overtime victory over Buffalo. It marked the most receiving yards by any player in the league in Week 10 and included a key, 32-yard acrobatic reception on fourth-and-18 with two minutes remaining in regulation.

This is the second-career Offensive Player of the Week award for Jefferson, also earning the honor in Week 11 of the 2021 season. He joins Pro Football Hall of Famers Cris Carter and Randy Moss as the only Vikings wide receivers to win the award multiple times.

Defense: LB Devin White:

White totaled nine tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble in Tampa Bay’s victory over Seattle in the first-ever NFL regular-season game in Germany. He was the only player in the NFC to record two sacks and a forced fumble in Week 10.

This is the third-career Defensive Player of the Week for White and first this season:

He becomes the third Tampa Bay linebacker to earn the honor at least three times, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks (six-time winner) and Hardy Nickerson (three-time winner).

Special Teams: K Joey Slye:

Slye converted all four of his field goal attempts in Washington’s upset victory over Philadelphia on Monday Night Football, connecting from 32, 44, 55 and a career-long 58 yards. He also converted both of his extra point attempts to account for 14 points, the most of any kicker in Week 10. Slye was also the only kicker to convert on multiple field goals from over 50 yards this week.

This is Slye’s second-career Special Teams Player of the Week award, also earning the honor as a rookie in Week 4 of the 2019 season with Carolina. He is the first Washington kicker to win since Dustin Hopkins (Week 13, 2020).

Eagles’ Slay: ‘I am still at an elite level’

One of the subplots of the Eagles’ 24-7 win over the Vikings on Monday night at Lincoln Financial Field was the matchup between Justin Jefferson and Darius ‘Big Play’ Slay.  

Both had big years in 2021, and both made the Pro Bowl last season. The second-year wideout was coming off a big performance(nine catches for 184 yards and two touchdowns) against the Packers in Week 1, while the 10-year corner and the Eagles’ defense were looking to have a bounce-back performance after struggling against the Lions.

This was the first time these two went head-to-head, and it was evident by the night’s end that Round 1 went to Slay. 

According to Pro Football Focus, when Slay was on Jefferson, he held him to one catch on six targets and had a career-high tying two picks.

In addition, Slay also finished with a career-high five passes defensed.

After the win, Slay said he was looking forward to the matchup against Jefferson.

“I take no matchup lightly, but he is one of the best in the world,” Slay said of Jefferson. “I am one of the best in the world, too. I was looking forward to the matchup.”

Jefferson, who finished the game with six catches for 48 yards, gave props to Slay.

“He’s a competitor for sure,” Jefferson said. “I knew that I was going to get that from him. I mean, he’s a great cornerback. He’s a great player. A great guy, too.”

At age 31, Slay is playing at a high level, and he still believes he’s an elite corner in the NFL.

“I have a lot of respect, but you know how it always goes, the older you get, they think you are falling off, but I am not one of those guys,” Slay said. “I am still at an elite level. I deserve a lot of respect. I think the league respects me enough. It is just the media.”

76ers star James Harden was in attendance on Monday night, and after his first interception, Slay gave the ball to the 10-time All-Star.

“Honestly, I didn’t even know he was at the game until they put him on the [videoboard],” Slay said about Harden. “He is one of my favorite players. I am like, why not? I get a chance to meet James Harden, a Hall of Fame basketball player. If I make a play tonight, definitely a pick, I have to give him the ball because he is well respected in the league and my favorite. I thought it was a good opportunity.”

After allowing 35 points to the Lions last Sunday, the Eagles’ defense got the job done against the Vikings, and ‘Big Play’ Slay was one of the biggest reasons. 

Eagles’ Sirianni on Jefferson: ‘He poses a lot of problems’

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson has been a stud since he entered the league in 2020. In two seasons, Jefferson has made the Pro Bowl twice, and he’s been one of the better wide receivers in football. 

Last season, Jefferson had a monster year as he had 108 catches for 1,616 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Last week, Jefferson had nine catches for 184 yards and two touchdowns in the Vikings’ 23-7 win over Green Bay.

This week, Jefferson and the Vikings travel to Philadelphia to battle the Eagles on Monday Night Football. Philadelphia had a shot at Jefferson in the draft, but they chose Jalen Reagor, who eventually was dealt to the Vikings in August.

Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni was impressed with Jefferson coming out of LSU, and he is impressed with him now.

“I can always go back to my first initial reaction to [Minnesota Vikings WR] Justin Jefferson,” Sirianni said this week. “We were out of the playoffs, and it must have been, what — this was — we didn’t make the playoffs in Indy one year, and I wanted to watch all the players in the National Championship Game that were playing that night between Alabama and LSU — Am I right there? I wanted to watch all the receivers and quarterbacks that were going to be eligible.

“So that week leading up to that, because we weren’t in the playoffs, I watched [Cincinnati Bengals QB Joe] Burrow. I watched [WR] DeVonta [Smith]. I watched Justin. I watched [Cincinnati Bengals WR Ja’Marr] Chase. I watched all those guys, and I remember putting on the tape and going, man, this Justin Jefferson guy is really, really good. Like he’s really quick. He’s got great hands. He runs really good routes.’

“It made the game a little bit more he enjoyable for me. I put the game on, we’re watching the game, and I’m watching the game with it, and he catches the ball, and he puts his foot in the ground quick, and you get the zoom up of it on the TV camera, and it was like, okay, he’s exactly what I thought. He does have all that quickness. That close-up view really helped me learn that.

“I’ve always admired his game and respected his game. He poses a lot of problems. He’s a great football player, and we have some great football players, too. Yeah, he’s got a great game.”

Sirianni probably should be coaching Jefferson, but stuff happens. However, fortunately for Sirianni, he has A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith.

Vikings’ Jefferson named Second-Team All-Pro

Minnesota Vikings rookie wide receiver Justin Jefferson was tabbed Second Team All-Pro by The Associated Press.  Jefferson garners his first All-Pro nod in his rookie campaign after a record-setting season in 2020.

The Associated Press NFL All-Pro teams are voted on by a national panel of 50 media members.

He is the only rookie to be named First or Second Team All-Pro this season and one of two rookies to receive votes (along with Tampa Bay’s Tristan Wirfs). Jefferson is the first Vikings rookie to garner All-Pro honors since Cordarrelle Patterson was selected First Team All-Pro as a kick returner in 2013. In December, the LSU product joined Randy Moss (1998) and Sammy White (1976) as the only Vikings rookie wide receivers to be named to the Pro Bowl in their first seasons.

Jefferson also joined Moss and Amari Cooper (2015) as the only wide receivers in NFL history to be named to a Pro Bowl at the age of 21. Percy Harvin (2009) and Mecole Hardman (2019) were both selected at the age of 21 as return specialists. The fifth receiver drafted in 2020, Jefferson broke the 18-year, Super Bowl-era rookie record for receiving yards (1,400) and set Vikings rookie records for receiving yards, receptions (88) and 100- yard games (7), passing the marks established by Hall of Famer Randy Moss during his 1998 Offensive Rookie of the Year campaign. Jefferson’s 1,400 yards ranked third among wide receivers, and his 23 receptions that gained 20 or more yards tied for the most in the league.

With his 133-yard performance at Detroit in Week 17, Jefferson became just the second player in the Super Bowl era to record seven 100-yard receiving games as a rookie, joining Odell Beckham Jr. (2014). His 87.5 receiving yards per game also rank second-most by a rookie in the history of the league behind only Beckham Jr. (108.8). Overall, the St. Rose, Louisiana, native joined Moss (in the 1999, 2000 and 2003 season) as the only players in team history to tally 1,400 receiving yards or more in a single season.

Vikings’ Cook, Jefferson named to Pro Bowl

Vikings running back Dalvin Cook and wide receiver Justin Jefferson have been selected by players, fans and coaches to the 2021 NFL Pro Bowl.

Cook, 25, is selected to his second consecutive Pro Bowl after leading the fan voting as the top NFC running back among vote-getters. Entering Week 16, Cook leads the NFL with 1,833 scrimmage yards and is tied for first with 15 rushing touchdowns. During the Week 15 matchup against Chicago, the fourth-year running back became the third Viking in team history to rush for over 1,400 yards in a season and passed Adrian Peterson’s 2009 season total (1,383) to move into fifth place in franchise history with 1,484 rushing yards. Peterson (2008, 2012, 2015) and Robert Smith (2000) are the only other Vikings to tally at least 1,400 rushing yards or more in a season.

The Florida State product was named NFC Offensive Player of the Month after leading the NFL with 641 rushing yards on 127 attempts and an average of 128.2 rushing yards per game through five contests in November. His 641 yards were the seventh-most rushing yards recorded in the month of November in NFL history, and the total set a team record for the month of November. His 128.2 rushing yards per game and 166.4 scrimmage yards per game also ranked third in Vikings history for the month.

Cook’s eight 100-yard rushing games in 2020 are tied with Robert Smith (2000) as the third-most 100-yard rushing games recorded in a season by a Viking. With 32 career touchdowns, Cook tied Smith for the fifth-most rushing touchdowns in team history. Cook’s 15 rushing touchdowns also tied the team record through 15 weeks. Peterson scored 15 rushing touchdowns through 15 weeks in 2009. The Miami, Florida, native received NFC Player of the Week honors in back-to-back weeks in Weeks 8-9, becoming the fourth Viking in team history to do so.

Jefferson garners his first Pro Bowl nod in his rookie campaign, joining only Viking rookie wide receivers Randy Moss (1998) and Sammy White (1976) to be named to the Pro Bowl in their first seasons. Jefferson also joins Moss and Amari Cooper (2015) as the only wide receivers in NFL history to be named to a Pro Bowl at the age of 21. Percy Harvin (2009) and Mecole Hardman (2019) were both selected at the age of 21 as return specialists.

The LSU product leads all rookie receivers with 1,182 yards and the total ranks eighth in the league entering Week 16. Jefferson also ranks sixth in the NFL among qualified receivers entering Week 16 with an average of 16.2 yards per reception (1,182/73). His 84.4 receiving yards per game rank ninth in the league while his 21 receptions of 20 or more yards are tied for the most in the NFL.

Coming off Week 15, Jefferson set the franchise rookie receptions record (73), breaking the previous mark of 69 set by Hall of Famer Randy Moss in 1998. With his 104-yard performance vs. Chicago, Jefferson became the fifth player in NFL history to record six 100-yard receiving games as a rookie. With 1,182 receiving yards this season, Jefferson passed Harlon Hill (1,124 in 1954), Bill Brooks (1,131 in 1986), Terry Glenn (1,132 in 1996) and Michael Thomas (1,137 in 2016) for the seventh-most receiving yards by a rookie in NFL history. The St. Rose, Louisiana, native became the fifth player in NFL history to record six 100-yard receiving games as a rookie, joining Billy Howton (six in 1952), Hill (seven in 1954), Odell Beckham Jr. (seven in 2014) and Bill Groman (nine in 1960).

Vikings’ Jefferson: ‘Not having fans in the stadium, we were lacking a lot of energy the first couple of weeks’

The Minnesota Vikings(4-5) may have finally hit their stride. Three straight division opponents and three consecutive wins for the Vikings, including last night’s 19-13 victory over the Bears at Soldier Field.

Before last night’s game, Vikings QB Kirk Cousins was 0-9 on Monday Night Football. However, the nine-year veteran was 25-36 for 292 yards and two touchdowns against Chicago, and for Cousins, it’s all about doing his part.

“You know, for me, it’s all about playing well and doing my part,” Cousins said after the game. “I’ve played long enough to know there is not a lot you can control as a quarterback. The ball is in your hands, but so many things are out of your control. So you just do the best you can, play the best you can, and that’s where my focus always is. When I leave a game and don’t feel like I played my best, that’s where I get frustrated. Then there are games where you may lose, but you felt like you gave a great effort and played at a high level. You always try to self-evaluate and be critical, but look at it with a trained eye.”

Vikings rookie wide receiver Justin Jefferson, who had eight catches for 135 yards on Monday night and tied Randy Moss for the most 100-yard receiving games by a Vikings rookie with four, believes Minnesota is playing with more energy.

“Not having fans in the stadium, we were lacking a lot of energy the first couple of weeks,” Jefferson said. “We found that energy: we found that swagger that we’ve been having. We came out ready to play football. The last three weeks that we’ve been doing, and we’re looking to continue to do it. “

For the Vikings, it’s about getting back into the playoff race, and after starting 1-5 not many thought the playoffs were a possibility. According to their head coach Mike Zimmer, the Vikings are fighting hard.

“You know, they just keep fighting,” Zimmer said. “That’s all we do. We come in there and practice every day. These guys, before the game, we weren’t tight. I could tell in the locker room they weren’t tight. They seemed to go out and practice really hard. They seemed to respond to the — when we are practicing and trying to — one of the things we’ve been emphasizing a lot for the last few weeks is not allowing completions at practice defensively, and I think maybe that’s starting to show up the competition part. It’s three games. We’re fighting our way back into this thing. Hopefully. Still got a lot of football left to play.”

Minnesota appears to be the team that many thought would be at the beginning of the season. Now, it’s time to continue to build on these three victories and make that push for the playoffs.