Following his team’s 23-7 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers offered high praise to wide receiver Justin Jefferson.
Rodgers told Jefferson he was “the best player in the game today.”
While the exchange between Rodgers and Jefferson has been widely broadcast to insinuate Jefferson as the “best player in the NFL,” Rodgers probably meant “best player in the Week 1 game between the Vikings and Packers.”
Otherwise, the congratulations and compliments from Rodgers would indeed be seismic.
Rodgers encountered a frustrating afternoon, turning the ball over twice — a rarity for the 38-year-old — and was under siege by the Vikings defense all afternoon. Za’Darius Smith, Rodgers’ former teammate, was the keynote culprit. All told, Rodgers was sacked four times by Smith, Danielle Hunter, Jordan Hicks, and D.J. Wonnum.
The Vikings also jawed with Rodgers, thanks to — you guessed it — Smith, who vowed vengeance toward his old team before the contest.
Jefferson, on the other hand, was, in fact, the best player in the game, tallying nine receptions for 184 yards and two touchdowns. The Packers inexplicably left Jefferson open most of the game, sliding their Pro Bowl cornerback Jaire Alexander onto Adam Thielen for coverage on most plays.
The 184 yards was a career-high for Jefferson, gathering 11 targets from quarterback Kirk Cousins in Week 1. His production also actionized an offseason-long sentiment of involving the wideout in the offense more than ever. Before 2022, Jefferson played inside a “run-first” offense commanded by Mike Zimmer while still accruing more targets by a player in his first two years of a career than any WR in NFL history. New Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell simply turned on the faucet even more.
Jefferson takes his “best player in the game” kudos to Philadelphia next Monday night for a showdown with the Eagles, who survived the Detroit Lions 38-35 on Sunday.
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).