The names of wide receivers Justin Jefferson and Adam Tillen are scattered throughout the Vikings recording record. For a while on Sunday, it looked as if Jefferson might add another tag to his roster.
After Minnesota’s 34-31 win over Green Bay at U.S. Bank Stadium, Jefferson earned 104 yards, making him a threat to break the team’s mark in the 210-yard singles game Sammy White set against Detroit in 1976. Jefferson came short , but his eight catches for 169 yards and two touchdowns were still impressive.
White, a two-time Pro Bowler who played for the Vikings from 1976 to 1985, has been following highlights from his home in Monroe, Los Angeles. While his record remains secure, he knows it may not stay the same for much longer.
“I’m amazed it has lasted this long with all the great receivers that the Vikings have,” White said on Monday. ‘But they say records were made to be broken. I see no reason why (Jefferson) shouldn’t break them.’
White, who set his record at just seven receptions, said Tylen was a threat to break it, too. After all, Thielen had the third best yardage in Vikings history with 12 catches for 202 yards in Green Bay in 2016.
At the time, Thielen was one of the best receiving duos in the NFL with Stefon Diggs. But Diggs was traded to Buffalo in March 2020.
White said he was “really shocked” when the deal was struck, but was pleasantly surprised at how Jefferson, who was selected with the 22nd pick in the draft in April 2020, had blossomed so quickly to give the Vikings, once again, one of the best-received duos in the Football League American.
“That’s a credit to the Vikings, as they have two such distinct receivers,” White said. “It’s a big time. When they line up on the same side, it causes a lot of confusion for the defense.”
Last season, Jefferson broke rookie team Randy Moss records with 88 catches for 1,400 yards, the latter being the second-best mark in junior NFL history. Thielen was already on the NFL record to start the 2018 season with eight consecutive 100-yard runs. She also tied it up with Calvin Johnson, a former Detroit Lions receiver for the 100th most consecutive yards of back-to-back games.
Through 10 games this season, Jefferson has 63 catches for 944 yards (4th in the NFL) and six touchdowns. Thielen has 58 catches for 624 yards and eight touchdowns (tied for third in the NFL). With Thielen ranking 25th in receiving yardage, the Vikings are one of only three NFL teams with two wide receivers in the top 25, the others being the Los Angeles Chargers with Keenan Allen and Mike Williams and Seattle with Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf.
On Sunday, Thielen had eight passes from Kirk Cousins for 82 yards and downhill and moved up to fifth on the Minnesota receiving list with 455 in eight seasons. He was happy to play alongside Jefferson.
“We have great confidence,” Thielen said on Monday. “I don’t want to rank us, but honestly we feel really good about what we can do on the football field, and we feel really good about getting chances and helping this football team win games. … We put a lot on our shoulders, and we are excited every week to get opportunities.”
With a chance to help through his first 17 NFL games, Jefferson could set a record for the Vikings for receiving yardage in a single season. He’s on track to finish with 1,604, and the mark is 1,632 yards by Moss in 2003.
Thielen runs for 1,061 yards, which would be his third 1,000-yard campaign. Together, the two are on track to finish with 2,665 yards, so they can challenge the team’s record for a duo received in the same season. In 2000, Moss had 1,437 yards and Cris Carter 1,274 for a total of 2,711.
“Kirk is doing a great job getting the ball,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. “They are very competitive. They go up and get on with football very well. Some of Adam’s achievements are great, the same with JJ they both love to play football and that is a big trait.”