Justin Jefferson speaks on Mike Zimmer not giving him chance to break Randy Moss’ record

Former Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer’s handling of the 2021 regular season finale was one of the biggest head-scratchers in his eight-year run with the team.

Star wideout Justin Jefferson remembers it vividly considering it was the day he came within 16 yards of breaking legendary receiver Randy Moss’ single-season franchise record for receiving yards (1,632). And yet, the All-Pro receiver isn’t holding on to any grudges.

Quite the contrary, per the Pioneer Press’ Chris Tomasson, he was never even that bothered by the incident.

“I wasn’t even too much worrying about it then. It is what it is. At the end of the day, I was just going to break it the next year,” said Jefferson.

That Week 18 matchup with the Chicago Bears was odd from the start.

Zimmer made the decision to play his starters in the finale, despite the Vikings already being eliminated from the playoff picture.

That decision alone drew criticism with many of the younger players on the roster, including backup quarterback Kellen Mond, being passed over for quality in-game snaps. Zimmer made the decision to play out the rest of the season straight up with his best players on the field.

But then he reverted back to being conservative late in the game. The Vikings were beating the Bears to a pulp, and it was late in the fourth quarter with Jefferson needing only 16 more receiving yards to surpass Moss.

However, instead of having a few more passing plays called in Jefferson’s direction, Zimmer made the decision to run out the clock and kill any chance left of breaking the record.

When asked if he was aware of Jefferson being within distance of breaking the record, Zimmer’s response was blunt and cold.

“Yes, I was,” said Zimmer. “I don’t care about records. I only care about wins.”

If the shoe was on the other foot and first-year Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell was in that very same situation, there’s no question he would have put the ball into Jefferson’s hands.

That doesn’t necessarily make Zimmer right or wrong for what he did. It just serves as a reminder why the Vikings players and the organization as a whole was ready for a fresh start.


Vikings 90-man training camp roster, by jersey number

Story originally appeared on Vikings Wire