Pa Carmen Vital
FOX Sports NFC North Writer

Can we please not feel Justin Jefferson fatigue?

It wasn’t the most convincing 4-1 win on Sunday Minnesota Vikingsbut lost in the drama of the near return Chicago Bears there was a performance by one Justin Jefferson.

I will continue to marvel at Jefferson’s speeches as long as they are justified — and, well, are they justified. In my game notes from Sunday, I just wrote “Justin Jefferson” at the top. Point. End of sentence.

That’s because Jefferson did things like set a career high with 12 catches for 154 yards. With those aforementioned 12 receptions, he also passed Randy Moss for the franchise record for receptions in a player’s first three seasons with 236, not even halfway through his third campaign.

If you need more context for how unprecedented Jefferson’s game was, his 10 catches (on 10 targets) in the first half were the most by any NFL player through the first two quarters this season and the most receptions in a first half since Keenan’s Chargers Allen at 11th week of 2020. And another eye-popping league-wide stat: Jefferson tied Moss and Lance Elworth for most games with over 150 receiving yards in a player’s first three seasons with six.

Justin Jefferson after career-best game in win over Vikings: ‘Everyone agreed on our goal’

Justin Jefferson spoke with Christina Pink about the Minnesota Vikings’ hard-fought win over the Chicago Bears and talked about the teams’ mentality heading into next week.

Oh yeah, and Jefferson made a pass, too. In the second quarter, the defender Kirk Cousins sent the ball to Jefferson on the far left sideline, from where Jefferson then sent it back across the field to the opposite sideline, where he ran Dalvin Cook expected it. Cook took the ball 23 yards and set his team up with first and goal at the nine-yard line. Wide receiver Jalen Reagor three plays later, Minnesota won 21-3, their largest lead of the game.

“I love it,” Jefferson said after the game. “For me, this is a chance to show my hand a little bit. I wish he would have scored, but of course I like the completion, especially on third down.”

Of course, Jefferson’s 12 catches wouldn’t be possible without a quarterback completely throwing it — especially in the first half. Cousins ​​completed his first 17 pass attempts, setting a new franchise record of his own. By the end of the first half, Cousins ​​had completed 22 of 26 attempts for 217 yards and a touchdown.

“It felt like Kirk was there with confidence,” Jefferson said. “The fact that we’re 17 out of 17 really helps him say that he can really go and do it. I mean, we played great the whole first half against them. Kirk dialed it in, throwing in the right reads, making the right throws. We just have to go into the second half with this 17 of 17.”

Speaking of the second half, the Bears did come back with 19 points where they managed to take a one point lead with 9:26 left in the fourth quarter. And while the Vikings’ offense had stalled to that point, they played their cards right after Chicago’s field goal.

Cousins ​​created a 17-play, 75-yard scoring drive that took seven minutes to go. The Vikings converted five third downs on the drive. On second-and-14, Jefferson caught a 10-yard pass to set up a third-and-drive, and Cousins ​​converted a two-point touchdown on a Jefferson pass to give the Vikings a seven-point lead that would stand.

“Third-down conversions are such a big part of why you win or why you lose,” Cousins ​​said after the game. “They get a lot of attention every week in your preparation. You spend basically all day on Thursday to capture it.

“Again, it comes down to the fact that so many parts have to work. Design should be good. It should be well protected. Guys have to get open and separate from their coverage and we have to find that and throw and you have to have a mix of run and pass. You have to stay in third place and be controlled. I think we had 10 third downs of five or less (yards). If you’re on third-and-11 the whole game, that’s a different conversion than third-and-one. So staying on third down and being driven, being productive on first down and second down to give you a fighting chance on third down really helps.”

Jefferson agreed.

“It just shows you the execution we had throughout the trip,” he said. “We just kept plugging away, even when we had second-and-20 or whatever. Just agreed to what KO required. He called a great, great last drive and we just went out there and played.”

It helped the Vikings close out another one-score game. They are 3-0 in such games after going 6-8 in one-score games last year, and with each clear win, the Vikings gain more confidence as we head into October.

The fourth-placed Lions are not paying off

The Lions went to Foxboro touting the league’s highest scoring offense, averaging 35 points per game through the first four weeks of the season. The defense held Detroit from their best record to date and they had a great opportunity to counter with a third quarterback Bailey Zappe and limited Patriots‘ offense.

Maybe they didn’t quite consider how good New England defense, however.

Patriots pile up two sacks, an interception and a rushing TD in a dominant 29-0 win over the Lions

The New England Patriots held the Detroit Lions to zero points while tallying two sacks, one interception and a scoop-and-point touchdown.

Matthew Judon had two sacks in the game. According to PFF, he accounted for seven total pressures. Lviv defender Jared Gough was pressured in some shape or form 21 times, accounting for 41% of his turnovers. He was convicted in 38.5% of them.

His completion percentage under pressure was just 21.4% and the Lions did not score a single point on the day. Yes, the Patriots recorded a 29-0 shutout at home and pushed the Lions deeper into the NFC cellar.

Another surprising wrinkle you might be tempted to blame is at number four. Head coach Dan Campbell wasn’t shy about going for it in those situations. But the Lions went for it six times. They did not convert any of them.

In fact, the one-fourth down proved costly when, on fourth-and-nine, Gough was sacked by Judon while fumbling the ball. Goff’s fumble was scooped up by a safety Kyle Dugger and carried right into the end zone for a defensive score, putting the Pats up 13-0 in the second quarter.

But ironically, the Lions were probably justified in going for it every time. It was expensive that they didn’t widen the rims, but nothing else in the way of field position. With the exception of the aforementioned fumble returned for a touchdown, this is where New England started its drives after Detroit went for it on fourth down instead of punting:

  • DET 45
  • NE 34
  • NE 6
  • NE 32
  • NE 18

The Patriots’ average field position when they started the offense was 22. That’s better than what you would get with a touchback.

So, in this case, fourth downs should be considered third downs, and when you combine both third downs and fourth downs, that’s where the Lions failed the most. They were four out of 18 with a conversion rate of just 22%.

“Our offense was pretty consistent, we played pretty well,” Campbell said after the game. “And that was a day where we didn’t get it right. We really never got into a real rhythm and couldn’t convert. So we couldn’t stay on the field.”

Everything is simple.

Detroit now gets an early bye to try to sort things out before heading to Dallas to face another of the league’s best backs in the Cowboys.

Packers are off in the second half

Green Bay was upset New York Giants in their home away game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, England on Sunday.

Giants head coach Brian Daboll overwhelmed Packers head coach Matt Lafleur with a series of constant and creative adjustments that proved too much for Green Bay’s defense. The Giants converted six of 11 third downs and were a perfect three-for-three in goal-on-goal situations — they were three of four in the red zone overall.

But they beat the Packers on a big play, with a running back Saquon Barkley recorded two plays of more than 40 yards, including one punt he had for 40 yards to help set up a double-return touchdown.

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In London, the NFC East rival New York Giants rallied from a 14-point deficit to beat the Green Bay Packers 27-22. Aaron Rodgers struggled on the Packers’ final drive. How much of the Giants’ 4-1 record has to do with new head coach Brian Daboll? Colin Cowherd weighs in and compares Dabol with Matt LaFleur’s struggles.

Green Bay’s offense got off to a strong start and could have sustained the aforementioned play, and the Giants in general, if they had done anything at all in the second half. The Packers have scored just 30 points in the second half this season through five games. Against the Giants, it was the second time they were held scoreless in the final two quarters of a game this year.

Last week against the Patriots, Green Bay scored 20 points in the second half, making it look like they may have realized they lacked a scoring game. That did happen against a rookie third-string quarterback — which proved to be an important caveat now that Green Bay has regressed.

They will have a chance to fight back New York Jets at home this coming weekend, although the Jets are coming off a 40-17 game against the Miami Dolphins. I have a feeling we’ll find out very soon which performance in Week 5 between the Jets and Packers was a fluke this Sunday.

Carmen Vitali covers the NFC North for FOX Sports. Carmen previously appeared with The Draft Network and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. She spent six seasons with the Bucs, including 2020, which added a Super Bowl title (and a boat parade appearance) to her resume. You can follow Carmen on Twitter at @CarmieV.

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