Justin Jefferson Didn’t Get 2000 Yards, but He Did Make NFL History

Justin Jefferson Didn't Get 200 Yards, But He Did Make NFL History
Dec 17, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) celebrates the win against the Indianapolis Colts after the game at U.S. Bank Stadium. With the win, the Minnesota Vikings clinched the NFC North. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Prior to the start of the 2022 regular season, Justin Jefferson had a couple of simple goals. Firstly, he wanted to be universally recognized as the NFL’s best receiver, and secondly, he wanted to break Calvin Johnson’s single-season receiving record and be the first player to record 2000 yards in a single season. Well, Jefferson didn’t get 2000 yards this season, but he did make NFL history.

Here’s how the third-year receiver accomplished that.

As the NFL regular season wraps up on Sunday, Jefferson has emerged as the NFL’s season leader in both receptions and receiving yards. After recording 4 receptions and 38 yards on Sunday, the LSU product finished his regular season with 128 receptions and 1809 receiving yards.

Vikings Win over Giants
Dec 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

After Tyreek Hill finished his regular season by catching 2 passes for 25 yards on Sunday and finishing his year with 119 receptions and 1712 yards, unless something ridiculous and unprecedented happens on Sunday night between the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers (such as Amon-Ra St. Brown recording 698 receiving yards in one game), Jefferson will finish the 2022 season as the league leader in both categories at just 23 years of age.

By doing so at such a young age, the Vikings third-year receiver became the youngest player in NFL history to lead the NFL in both categories. The previous record holder was Don Hutson, who led the league in both categories during the 1936 season with the Green Bay Packers. Hutson’s production, though, was about a quarter of what Jefferson did as he recorded 34 receptions and 536 yards.

This is just the latest accolade for Jefferson throughout a three-year career that has been filled with them. He holds the record for most receptions and receiving yards through a player’s first two seasons as well as both records through a player’s first three seasons.

In fact, Jefferson is just 687 yards away from the record for most receiving yards through a player’s first four NFL seasons. That record is held by Michael Thomas, who recorded 5512 yards from 2016-19. That 2019 season saw Thomas record an NFL record 149 receptions.

Dec 4, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) reacts after the game against the New York Jets at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Assuming Jefferson continues his usual productivity, Jefferson should have that record by the Vikings sixth game of the 2023 season, and at the latest, it will be his by the seventh game. Overall, this has been an absolutely incredible run by Jefferson to begin his career. Here’s to hoping it continues through the playoffs and into future years.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. He also earned minors in History, Human Biology, and Journalism. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys marathon training, playing video games, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. For more of his opinions, check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.