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Air Justin: Jefferson's Passing Prowess Adds Wrinkle to Vikings Offense

EAGAN, Minn. — Justin Jefferson's red-hot November earned him NFC Offensive Player of the Month honors on Thursday.

The Vikings wide receiver recorded 24 receptions for 464 yards and three touchdowns, with his yardage total leading the league and also finishing as the third-highest team total in November.

Only Randy Moss topped Jefferson's yardage mark, but somehow the Hall of Famer never earned the accolade Jefferson received this week.

"It was real cool being congratulated by my [teammates]," Jefferson said. "To see how many people were excited for me … to win player of the month, that's pretty big.

"It's good that I got player of the month but the [team's win-loss] record has to be better," Jefferson added. "We need to be better as a team. Player of the Month is cool, but I'd rather get wins."

Jefferson's strong play in November helped the Vikings to a pair of wins, as Minnesota now sits at 5-6 on the season with six games to go.

Yet the talk of the town — or at least around Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center on Thursday — wasn't Jefferson's catching ability.

Instead, it was his skills throwing the ball, as Jefferson attempted yet another pass Sunday against the 49ers.

The 22-year-old has now thrown three passes this season, which is tied for the second-most in a season (with Moss and Jerry Reichow) by a non-quarterback. Running back Alfred Anderson set the franchise record with seven attempts back in 1984.

"I just like to compete. I like to be in the mix, especially with a tricky play, especially with me throwing it, too," Jefferson said. "I just love being out there making a big play and doing something for my team.

"I definitely remember the little league days of me playing quarterback, running around, throwing it on the run, so it definitely brings me back to that," Jefferson added. "I'm used to it."

Vikings Offensive Coordinator Klint Kubiak noted the unit is trying to get Jefferson involved any way possible.

"I know he's got a good lineage, his brother played at quarterback," Kubiak said. "I know Justin played some high school quarterback, and just seeing him before practice tossing it around, it looked pretty natural.

"I think it's a part of his athleticism we've got to keep using, and he's a good decision-maker as well," Kubiak added. "If it's not there, he makes good decisions as a thrower, so he just has a lot of talents, and we've got to keep using them all."

Jefferson has completed two of his three passes this season — an 11-yarder to K.J. Osborn in Week 1 that was actually Osborn's first NFL reception, and a 24-yard completion to Dalvin Cook against the 49ers.

His lone incompletion came against the Cowboys on a play that was well-covered. His passer rating of 106.2 is a tick higher than Kirk Cousins' mark of 105.3, which ranks third in the NFL among qualifying passers.

"Really? They might as well sign me to a new contract," Jefferson quipped. "Might as well get some more money while I can."

Moss, for what it's worth, completed half of his eight career passes in Purple for 106 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.

"I'll try not to throw an interception," Jefferson said with a laugh.

View photos of Vikings players from practice on Dec. 2 at the TCO Performance Center.

Jefferson said he's taken tips from his brother, Jordan, a former LSU quarterback. And that he has to try and hide his excitement at the line of scrimmage when he knows he's about to air it out.

But Jefferson also added he will be ready if the Vikings ever need an emergency quarterback.

"If they need me to. I can definitely make some reads, some throws, some slants," Jefferson said. "Whatever they need me to do, I've got it."

For now, Jefferson's focus will mainly be on catching the ball, as he ranks third in the NFL with 1,027 receiving yards.

He had success in 2020 in Detroit, with nine catches for 133 yards at Ford Field to finish his first season with a Super Bowl-era rookie record of 1,400 yards.

"Hopefully I go for 130-[plus] again, but I didn't score last year. I want to score this year," Jefferson said. "I take every single game the same, no matter who we play, I want to be the best player on the field, I want to make plays for the team and get the dub.

"That's all that it's about at the end of the day," Jefferson added. "Just getting a win and coming home and getting on the plane happy."

But keep an eye out for another pass attempt or two going forward.