Another season, another record.
In the Vikings’ 33-26 win Thursday night over New England at U.S. Bank Stadium, wide receiver Justin Jefferson broke the NFL record for most yards receiving in a player’s first three seasons. And there are still six games remaining in 2022.
Jefferson, who caught nine passes for 139 yards and a touchdown, broke the mark of 4,163 yards set by Vikings hall of famer Randy Moss from 1998-2000. Jefferson had entered the game with 4,109 career yards and now has 4,248.
Jefferson had 3,016 yards to break the record Odell Beckham Jr. set in 2014-15 with the New York Giants for most yards in a player’s first two seasons. Jefferson had 1,400 yards as a rookie, the second-most ever after Bill Groman’s 1,473 for the Houston Oilers in 1960.
“It means a lot,” Jefferson said of breaking Moss’ record. “It means that my course of reaching the hall of fame is near. But I’m just going to keep working, doing whatever it takes to make plays for this team. I love this team. I’ll do anything for it. When that ball is in the air, it’s mine.”
Jefferson was thrilled to have a big game on national television.
“I love it,” he said. “I mean these are the type of games that I love the most. Thursday nights. Primetime. The whole world is watching you. No better time to go off.”
Tomlinson sits out
Vikings defensive end Dalvin Tomlinson missed his fourth straight game with a right calf injury.
Tomlinson was listed Wednesday as questionable. But in the end, the Vikings decided to make him inactive, with the hope he can be back for the Dec. 4 home game against the New York Jets. He was hurt Oct. 30 against Arizona.
Also inactive for the Vikings were tackle Christian Darrisaw (concussion) and cornerbacks Akayleb Evans (concussion) and Andrew Booth Jr. (knee), who all previously had been ruled out, offensive lineman Vederian Lowe, defensive lineman Esezi Otomewo and edge rusher Luiji Vilain.
Minnesota offensive lineman Chris Reed was active for the first time this season.
The Patriots were without two starting offensive linemen in center David Andrews (thigh) and right tackle Isaiah Wynn (foot). Also inactive were safety Joshua Bledsoe, cornerback Shaun Wade, running back Kevin Harris and defensive lineman Sam Roberts.
Shelley steps up
Due to injuries, Duke Shelley became the fourth different right cornerback to start in the past four Minnesota games. Cameron Dantzler started Nov. 6 at Washington before being hurt against the Commanders and going on injured reserve. Evans started Nov. 13 at Buffalo before being injured against the Bills. And Booth was hurt after getting the call against the Cowboys.
“For the most part, it was good get my feet wet,” Shelley said. “I felt good out there.”
Shelley was beaten on a few occasions. But he did have a key pass breakup in the end zone late in the first half on a throw from Mac Jones to Kendrick Bourne, which he called a “pretty good play.”
In a 33-30 win at Buffalo on Nov. 13, Shelley broke up a pass in the end in overtime.
“You can’t give up touchdowns,” Shelley said. “You’ve got to make them line it up again.”
Vikings elevate two
Before the game, the Vikings added depth to their depleted cornerback ranks by elevating Tay Gowan from the practice squad. They also elevated rookie linebacker William Kwenkeu.
On Wednesday, the team had ruled out Evans and Booth and Dantzler (ankle) is on injured reserve. It was the second straight game Gowan had been elevated, following last Sunday’s 40-3 loss to Dallas. He was in for three plays on special teams against the Cowboys.
Kwenkue, who signed as undrafted free agent out of Temple, made his NFL regular-season debut against the Patriots by playing on special teams.
In addition to Shelley and Gowan, Minnesota cornerbacks available against New England were starter Patrick Peterson, slot back Chandon Sullivan and reserve Kris Boyd.