Get Your Popcorn Ready: Justin Jefferson Claps Back at Nemesis

Jefferson Trade Is More
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The Minnesota Vikings are the hunted team in the NFC North after winning the division in dominant fashion with a 13-4 record, while the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions had a combined record of 17-17 and missed the playoffs. Justin Fields’ Chicago Bears were the bottom feeders of the NFL, losing the final ten games of 2022. The Detroit Lions are favored to win the North, but Justin Jefferson opined about a different foe.

Get Your Popcorn Ready: Justin Jefferson Claps Back at Nemesis

jefferson claps back
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Justin Jefferson going up against Jaire Alexander turned into one of those magical matchups everyone is looking forward to, especially after many people saw Alexander handily win the matchup in Week 17, a game that turned into a nightmare for the Vikings while the Packers kept their playoff hopes alive. Of course, those were shattered in what turned out to be Aaron Rodgers’ final game as a Packer one week later by the Lions.

The wideout recorded 15 yards on one catch against the Packers, drawing ridiculous attention all game long. Green Bay’s whole defensive plan was to take away Jefferson. They succeeded at that, but the Vikings had an awful game, and even if Jefferson had a field day, they would’ve lost that game.

Fifteen yards have been the second-lowest total of Jefferson’s career. He was targeted four times and still hauled in only one catch. According to PFF, Alexander was in coverage for one of the targets, and he recorded a pass breakup, the famous play right before the viral celebration when Alexander hit the Griddy, JJ’s signature dance, right in front of Jefferson.

Has Justin Jefferson Ever Struggled So Mightily?
Green Bay Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander does The Griddy after breaking up a pass intended for Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson. Tork Mason/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin.

Undoubtedly a phenomenal play against the best receiver in football. There is a reason why Alexander is the highest-paid cornerback in the league and a two-time second-team All-Pro who should perhaps have had more nominations than only those two.

Part of the story is also that Alexander had safety help over the top at all times, allowing him to be physical at the line of scrimmage with the former LSU star. The slippery field combined with wearing the wrong shoes (Jefferson should be blamed for that) didn’t help either.

Now more than seven months later, Alexander was interviewed by Pete Prisco from CBS Sports and was asked about the rivalry with JJ and the Week 17 matchup: “That was fun. I said all week it was a fluke (Jefferson’s big game in Week 1 against the Packers), and then he came into Lambeau and thought he was coming in griddying, but I was the one griddying.” He was then asked about “beating the WR up a little bit” and opined: “Somebody had to, they were letting him go free all year but not me. Not me.”

Vikings Fans Are on
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Jefferson appeared in an interview with CBS Sports, and they showed him Alexander’s interview:

It was just him talking. Nobody is really worried about him. If you really see the mic’d up and everything, they had their intentions to really take me out of the game. Everything about that day was to take me out of the game to not let me catch a ball, to do things to really take me off my game. At that point in the season, we had already solidified [our spot] in the playoffs, we had won the division, I wasn’t going to play the whole game.

But you can’t call a 180-yarder a fluke. That’s something that’s not a fluke. You can’t just walk on 180 yards in the NFL, especially being one of the top players, so they played it totally differently the second time. They didn’t even play man [coverage] the second time at all. So that statement of him playing man and beating me up all game is very not true and if you see the film you can see it.

Justin Jefferson

No matter the game plan, it was a good one and worked. The Packers took Jefferson out of the game and ended his dream of recording 2,000 yards in the season. They had the luxury of putting an elite cornerback on him and helping him with various different defenders. Not many teams have the personnel to do that, but some teams will try regardless.

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Jefferson and coach Kevin O’Connell must find an antidote for that. NFL teams and players having to adjust to new strategies is what the NFL is all about. The addition of rookie Jordan Addison is supposed to help take some attention away from Jefferson.

Still, the Week 1 game also happened, and Jefferson racked up nine catches, 184 yards, and 2 touchdowns on Green Bay’s defense, and Alexander was on the field as well. Dominating the league three years in a row is not a fluke.

Justin Jefferson One
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The Vikings receiver was then asked about Alexander doing the Griddy and if he might want to retire the dance:

Well, first of all, for him to do a Griddy off and incompletion is very funny to me. It just goes to show you the amount of attention that he was trying to give me by just doing stuff like that, trash-talking after every play. Things like that are funny to me.

There’s always a target on my back, there’s always people trying to take me out of the game. This is a new year, we don’t get to play them at home when it’s cold, we’ll go there early in the season when it’s a little warmer and then they play us late in the season, primetime, so I guess we’re gonna see what all the talk is about and hopefully they don’t have me double-teamed with a safety over the top of him.

Justin Jefferson
Vikings Little Movie
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Jefferson going up against Alexander in a true one-on-one matchup is what every NFL fan wants and deserves to settle the feud for a while, at least until the net matchup. This could go on for many years to come. Nothing is better than two exceptional athletes having a rivalry. Both have incredible confidence for good reason, as they are really good at their jobs. Week 8 at Lambeau and Week 17 at U.S. Bank Stadium are the dates to circle on your calendars.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt