MINNEAPOLIS -- With the previous record holder looking on from the opposing sideline, Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson made history on his third catch Sunday, racking up the most receiving yards ever by a player in his first two seasons, surpassing the mark Los Angeles Rams wideout Odell Beckham Jr. set in 2015 while with the New York Giants.
With 12:47 to go in the third quarter, Jefferson caught a 9-yard pass from Kirk Cousins to convert a third-and-6 play and give him 23 receiving yards on the afternoon. The Vikings' second-year receiver needed 21 yards entering Sunday to surpass Beckham's record of 2,755 receiving yards. Jefferson now has 2,851 receiving yards after finishing with eight catches for 116 yards in the Vikings' 30-23 loss.
"Blessed, honor to God, just being in this situation, breaking his record with him [Beckham] in the building," Jefferson said. "It was no other perfect situation for me. But a dub would definitely be better with that record, but move on."
The record -- and this game in particular -- was one Jefferson said he had been anticipating all season. The matchup the receiver knew he would draw with Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey built up the level of intrigue on a day when Jefferson was eyeing history.
"Need 21 yards, definitely been keeping the tabs for that," Jefferson said Thursday.
"I'm excited. I feel like I live for these moments, ever since I was a kid. Just going up against that top guy, I'm a natural competitor. I've been a competitor since I was playing in the backyard with my family. I'm ready for the game, I been having it circled for a long time. To me, it's a statement game for me considering myself one of the top receivers in the league and solidifying myself. Definitely ready for it."
According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Ramsey lined up across from Jefferson pre-snap 22 times on Sunday. Jefferson finished with 40 yards on four catches with Ramsey as the nearest defender, compared with 76 yards when anyone else was the nearest defender.
Jefferson's latest career milestone came on a day when early struggles for the Vikings' offense proved costly in a loss that shrank Minnesota's playoff chances to 16%, according to ESPN's FPI. The Vikings went 2-of-12 on third down and were 2-of-5 inside the red zone, where they came away with only 10 points off three turnovers.
Quarterback Kirk Cousins attempted eight red zone passes and only one was thrown to Jefferson.
"I think we should be more aggressive when we get down there, as soon as we get down there," Jefferson said. "But, I'm not the one calling the plays. I'm just here to do my job and do what's told to me. But, we can't get down in the red zone that many times and come out with three points."
Jefferson also said he noticed a lack of energy from his teammates "as soon as I came into the locker room." Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr said coach Mike Zimmer stepped into the pregame huddle to hype his team up because "it felt like it was a little dead inside [U.S. Bank Stadium] today."
"I can only control what I can," Jefferson said. "I definitely will keep the energy up, keep talking my guys up, trying to pick them up, but at the end of the day I can't go out there and play for them, so we just all gotta come together as a whole, have that energy up for next game and just go out there and ball."