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Vikings Turn Focus to Patriots; Thielen & Jefferson Excited to Play on Thanksgiving

EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings were left with a sour taste in their mouths after a lackluster performance at home against the Cowboys on the national stage.

Minnesota can't lose sleep about it too much, though, as its next game is just three days away in the same building against another tough opponent.

The Vikings (8-2) will host the New England Patriots (6-4) on Thanksgiving at 7:20 p.m. (CT) in a game broadcast nationally by NBC. It will be the second game of a three-game homestand for Minnesota and the second consecutive contest against an opponent with a winning record.

"We don't like what happened [Sunday], but we have a chance to move on faster than normal," wide receiver Justin Jefferson said to Twin Cities reporters Monday. "We don't have time to really think about the loss [or] have time to figure out what was going on. It's a quick turnaround. We really have two to three days to come up with a game plan and go out there, be focused and be comfortable on what we have to do. We're so glad that we can play Thursday, get this loss out of our minds and get back to where we would like to be."

Wide receiver Adam Thielen added he's looking forward to seeing how the team responds in the days leading up to the game.

"I think it's going to show what kind of character this team has, what kind of leaders this team has, this organization has, [and] how we respond after a game like that," Thielen said. "How are we going to come out of this, off a tough loss and a blowout loss at home, how are we going to respond to that? I'm looking forward to that.

"I'm also looking forward to just showing that this is a team full of guys that want to be great and want to do the little things and are going to learn from stuff like that, [and] not let it get to us," Thielen continued. "Excited to see how guys respond tomorrow, honestly. How guys treat these walk-throughs and meetings and how locked in they are. I'm excited to see that because I really feel like we have a lot of really great guys that are going to do it the right way and they're really going to take this as a positive thing [from] what happened yesterday and learn from it and know that we can't ever let that happen again."

The Patriots were able to escape Sunday against the New York Jets, getting an 84-yard punt return for a touchdown from rookie Marcus Jones with just five seconds remaining in regulation for a 10-3 victory.

Thielen has played against New England twice in his career, the first on Sept. 14, 2014, in his second NFL game. The other time was in December 2018.

Thielen said the Patriots are extremely well coached under Head Coach Bill Belichick and present a lot of challenges in all three phases, especially defensively.

"They're just so detailed. They don't make mistakes; they're not dropping coverages; their special teams is flying around making plays. They're very well coached from an all-around perspective, which makes it difficult because they don't give you anything easy," Thielen said. "I will say from an offensive perspective, they take away what you're really good at, and there's a lot of teams that try to emulate that and just don't do it the way that they do it week in and week out. They take away what the offense is really good at. They find weaknesses and they expose them."

Thielen added he understands the magnitude of the matchup and knows the offense can't have a repeat performance of Sunday.

"I think that's why it's a great test for us this week. Especially coming off of the performance yesterday of, 'Hey, we're not just coming off of a bad performance and we're just going to go and roll the ball and go play again, this is serious,' " Thielen said. "They're a good defense, a good team that's going to make it as tough as possible on us as an offense, so it'll be a great test for us Thursday night."

Look back on images from past games between the Vikings and the Patriots.

The Vikings will play on Thanksgiving for the ninth time in franchise history, but it will be the first time Minnesota gets to be home for the holiday.

Thielen has played twice on Thanksgiving, both times in Detroit, and recorded eight catches in each contest (a 2016 loss and a 2017 win). He said he was excited when he first saw the Vikings were going to not only play on the holiday, but at home.

"I love playing on Thanksgiving, it's such a meaningful holiday for me and my family. To be able to have family around to come to the game and then be able to spend the weekend together is really something that I'm looking forward to, especially with three kids of my own now," Thielen said. "To have that weekend together as a family and to really have a Thanksgiving is going to be really cool, so I'm very thankful for that. I think it'll be a cool experience because I've loved my other experiences on Thanksgiving Day, but it'll be a little extra special being at home."

Thursday will be Jefferson's first time playing on Thanksgiving. Jefferson also expressed his eagerness to be around his family who will be able to attend the game and stay for the weekend.

"Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of the year," Jefferson said. "I'm a big family person; my whole family comes down, [and] cook[s] all of this good food. Just being with the family during that time and then [to have them] coming to the game and just having a great time seeing me play. I love Thanksgiving, I love just being with the family, being generous and just being grateful of everything that's going on. We're 8-2, it's still something to be proud of and we have a chance to move forward Thursday."

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