Justin Jefferson Dominates as the Vikings Beat the Packers, 23-7
It was all smiles for Kevin O’Connell and the Minnesota Vikings in his first game as head coach. The Vikings offense got off to a roaring start and rode that momentum to victory over the Green Bay Packers, 23-7. Much of the production in that first half was a result of the Kirk Cousins/Justin Jefferson connection. Jefferson caught six passes for 158 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The 158 receiving yards in the first half for Jefferson set a new Vikings franchise record.
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The production got started right away on the opening drive as Cousins connected with Jefferson for a pair of 20-plus-yard gains. He then hit Jefferson for a five-yard touchdown to put the Vikings on the board five-and-a-half minutes into the game.
As good as the offense was, the defense was nearly as impressive against Green Bay’s offense and the two-time reigning MVP, Aaron Rodgers. The Packers were held scoreless in the first half as Minnesota jumped out to a 17-0 lead heading into halftime. Overall, it was a rough outing for Rodgers as he was held to just 195 yards, zero touchdowns, and an interception on the day. The interception was caught by Harrison Smith, the 30th of his NFL career.
Part of the struggles for Rodgers had to do with the Vikings defensive front, who provided constant pressure on the Packers QB. Minnesota recorded four sacks on Sunday, including one by Za’Darius Smith, who had been extra motivated going into the game against his former team.
In the second half, the Vikings went a noticeably more conservative approach as they tried to protect their lead. Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison got all the carries in the game, and overall, they were very effective. The backfield duo combined for 28 carries and 126 yards, averaging 4.5 yards per carry.
Because of this change in approach, Jefferson fell just a tad short of Sammy White’s franchise record for single game receiving yards. White recorded 214 yards in 1976; Jefferson finished the day with 184 yards. Still, Sunday’s performance marks a career high for Jefferson.
After a Greg Joseph field goal made the score 20-0, the Packers finally found the end zone in the second half on the massive legs of AJ Dillion. Dillon punched in a 2-yard score, but it was a matter of too little too late. Joseph nailed another field goal, and the Vikings defense prevented any more momentum from Green Bay’s offense, landing us at the final score of 23-7.
After starting their season 1-0 for the first time since 2019, the Vikings now head on the road to take on the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday Night Football in Week 2. Meanwhile, the Packers head home to host a feisty Bears team that just upset the San Francisco 49ers.
Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing as well as minors in History, Human Biology, and Journalism. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh‘s hobbies include training for a marathon, playing video games, and rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. For more of his takes, NFL and otherwise, check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken