During last week's loss to Baltimore, the Minnesota Vikings forgot about Justin Jefferson. Despite hauling in a 50-yard touchdown in the first quarter, Jefferson had just five targets during the game and lamented about the Vikings' game plan during his weekly press conference.
But on Sunday, the Vikings made no such mistake. Jefferson was peppered with targets throughout the afternoon and with a monster game, the Vikings ended their two-game losing streak with a 27-20 win over the Los Angeles Chargers.
Jefferson's performance was the highlight of the day as he caught nine passes for a game-high 143 yards. With their star receiver going off, it opened opportunities for the offense after a scoreless first quarter.
After a pair of Greg Joseph field goals put Minnesota up 6-3, Kirk Cousins connected with Tyler Conklin on a five-yard touchdown pass to put the Vikings ahead 13-3.
Just as the Vikings were feeling good, their struggles at the end of the half resurfaced. The Chargers marched down the field to set up a one-yard touchdown plunge from Larry Roundtree III and Minnesota went into the locker room up 13-10.
Los Angeles took the lead on their first drive of the second half with a Justin Herbert touchdown pass to Austin Ekeler but the Vikings answered with a drive to the goal line. After the Vikings handed it to Dalvin Cook three straight times, Cousins took to the air and found Conklin for his second touchdown catch of the day.
With the Vikings in front, Cook extended the lead with a touchdown run of his own to put Minnesota ahead 27-17. But like every game this season, it never felt like it was wrapped up.
The Chargers drove deep into Vikings' territory but their drive stalled, leaving them to settle for a field goal. In a situation that the Vikings had replayed all season long, the offense put themselves in first and long after a holding penalty on Brian O'Neill.
Facing a third and six on their own 29, Cousins looked for Jefferson, who made a leaping 27-yard catch to extend the drive.
But the Vikings were determined to get in their own way. A face mask penalty on Luke Stocker put the offense in a bad situation but on 3rd-and-20, Cousins stepped up and found Adam Thielen for an 18 yard reception. The Vikings went for it on fourth down and Cook surged past the sticks to put the Chargers away.
It was the type of play that has been elusive this season as the Vikings have lost a slew of close games. But it was also the willingness to get the ball into Jefferson's hands that could have the Vikings on the right track.
That will be determined next week when the 4-5 Vikings host the 8-2 Green Bay Packers.