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5 Takeaways: Jefferson, Cousins Light It Up in Season-Ending Win

The Vikings closed out their 2020 season with a 37-35 win on the road in Detroit, ending an up-and-down season with a 7-9 record.

While that ties the worst mark in seven seasons under Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer, there were plenty of bright spots in Week 17, especially on offense.

Justin Jefferson finished his rookie season with nine receptions for 133 yards, as his final stat line will be 88 catches for 1,400 yards and seven scores in 2020.

He surpassed Randy Moss (1,313 yards) to set a new Vikings rookie record … and Anquan Boldin (1,377 yards) to set a rookie record for a wide receiver in the Super-Bowl era.

Kirk Cousins also flourished in the 2020 finale, as he completed 28-of-40 passes for a season-best 405 passing yards. That is Cousins' sixth 400-yard game of his career, and his third-highest total in Purple.

He also had three passing scores, which was the seventh such occurrence for him this season. His passer rating of 127.6 was his fourth-best of the season.

Cousins finished his third season with a career-high 35 touchdown passes, which ranks second in Vikings history. (Daunte Culpepper holds the single-season mark at 39, which was set in 2004).

Defensively, Harrison Smith recorded his team-best fifth interception, while Hercules Mata'afa recorded the first solo sack of his career. He had 0.5 sacks in three other games this season, and finished his second season on the roster with 2.5 sacks.

Here are four more takeaways from Sunday afternoon:

1. Continued ups and downs on special teams

The Vikings special teams units had been a roller coaster all season, which made the Week 17 performance of that phase pretty fitting.

There was some good, sure, as Chad Beebe had a 13-yard punt return, which was the Vikings longest of the season.

Hardy Nickerson also forced a fumble on a punt return, which was recovered by long snapper Andrew DePaola.

But there was also some bad, including a 70-yard kickoff return allowed … and more issues in the kicking game.

Dan Bailey hit a 23-yard field goal, but missed a 46-yard try. He also missed an extra point attempt in the fourth quarter.

View game action photos as the Vikings take on the Lions in Detroit for the 2020 season finale.

2. Mattison, Abdullah step in for Cook

Alexander Mattison and Ameer Abdullah both picked up the slack in Dalvin Cook's absence on Sunday.

Mattison had the first multi-score game of his career, as he caught a 28-yard score and also found the end zone on a 2-yard run. The second-year running back finished with 95 yards on 21 carries, along with three receptions for 50 yards.

His biggest run came on fourth-and-1 from the Lions 25 with just over two minutes left, as Mattison's 16-yard gain allowed the Vikings to run out the clock.

Abdullah had a 4-yard touchdown catch, which was his second score of the season. His other touchdown came against Detroit in Week 9 when he caught a 22-yard pass against his former team.

Mike Boone also added 29 yards on five attempts. The Vikings running backs totaled 32 touches for 181 yards against Detroit.

3. More big passing plays allowed

It's no secret the Vikings pass defense has struggled at times this season. That trend continued in Week 17 against the Lions, as Detroit's passing attack hit on seven plays of at least 20 yards.

Matthew Stafford connected on four such plays in the first half, including a 43-yard score to Marvin Jones, Jr., and a 20-yard touchdown to rookie Quintez Cephus. Stafford also hit Jones for gains of 23 and 38 in the first half.

Jones also caught a 26-yard score to open the scoring in the second half. Cephus later had a 31-yard reception, and Jones added a 21-yard reception on first-and-20 for the Lions.

Jones finished with eight catches for 180 yards and two scores.

The Vikings finished the 2020 season by allowing 63 total pass plays of 20 yards or more, which is the highest total allowed under Zimmer.

The previous high was 47 such plays allowed, which came a season ago in 2019.

4. Peterson finds end zone against former team

Adrian Peterson will likely go into the Hall of Fame one day mostly for his stellar 10-year career with the Vikings that included 11,747 rushing yards and 97 rushing touchdowns, both of which are franchise records.

But the 14-year veteran likely enjoyed his rushing touchdown Sunday, a 2-yard score that came against his former team.

Peterson had seven carries for 63 yards against Minnesota, including a 38-yard rush which was his longest carry of the season.

The 35-year-old ranks fifth all-time with 14,820 rushing yards, and is fourth in league history with 118 rushing scores.