Dane Mizutani: Vikings star Justin Jefferson belongs in same conversation as Vikings legend Randy Moss

Everyone remembers where they were on Thanksgiving 1998 when Vikings legend Randy Moss eviscerated the Cowboys on national television.

It became a snapshot moment in time because of how Moss made real life look like a video game for a few hours.

His first catch? A 51-yard touchdown reception that featured Moss getting loose downfield thanks to a flea flicker near the line of scrimmage.

His second catch? A 56-yard touchdown reception that featured Moss dusting his defender off the line and then carrying him into the end zone.

His third catch? A 56-yard touchdown reception that featured Moss breaking a tackle at the point of attack before outracing the whole defense along the sideline.

His ridiculous stat line — three catches for 163 yards and three touchdowns — is something diehard Vikings fans can still recite on cue.

More than 20 years later, when Thanksgiving rolls around, Moss is still a topic of conversation in households throughout Minnesota because of his dominance.

That’s exactly how people are going to be with current Vikings star Justin Jefferson. He belongs in the same conversation as Moss. He’s already proven to be deserving of that comparison.

Though he wasn’t quite as dominant as Moss was back in the day — it’d be hard for anyone to match that level of efficiency — Jefferson still put on an absolute show on Thanksgiving 2022. He finished with nine catches for 139 yards and a touchdown as the Vikings earned a 33-26 win over the Patriots.

In the process, Jefferson set a new NFL record for most receiving yards through a player’s first three seasons. He now has 4,248 receiving yards for his career. Fittingly, he passed Moss, the previous record holder, on Thanksgiving nonetheless.

This wasn’t the first time something like this has happened to Jefferson and it won’t be the last time. If Jefferson stays healthy, he’s going to break every single record Moss has to his name.

The performance that Jefferson put forth to lead the Vikings over the Patriots is proof of that.

No matter what coverage Patriots coach Bill Belichick thew his way, Jefferson found a way to beat it with regularity. Shoutout to Patriots cornerback Jonathan Jones for at least trying.

The problem for defenders is, even when it looks like Jefferson is covered, he’s not actually covered. That’s something quarterback Kirk Cousins is clearly starting to realize as he’s lofted 50-50 balls to Jefferson on a regular basis

Truthfully, nobody can cover Jefferson when he’s at his peak.

That was evident when he hauled in 6-yard touchdown reception on the opening drive, when he leaped to make an incredible 37-yard catch with a pair of defenders draped all over him, and when he made a 36-yard catch that seemed impossible when replayed in slow motion.

Those haymakers eventually helped the Vikings wear down the Patriots as the game progressed.

Despite trailing shortly after halftime, the Vikings found their legs with Jefferson playing a large role. He lifted them up when he needed to, and his swagger appeared to give his teammates confidence to make plays, as well.

Just like Moss used to do in his prime.

As long as Jefferson continues to ball out in his rise up the ranks, and he’s just getting started, the comparisons to Moss are going to keep coming.

In the end, though, Jefferson likely won’t be remembered in the exact same way Moss is remembered right now.

That’s perfectly fine because Jefferson will be remembered in his own way down the road.

Perhaps as the greatest receiver in franchise history.

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