Justin Jefferson celebrated the final play of the 2021 season with some freakish gymnastics. As Kirk Cousins went to a knee to drain the final seconds off the clock, Jefferson dropped and rolled onto his back, then catapulted himself back onto his feet without using his hands.

It was an impressive display of agility. Warning: Do not try it at home.

Too bad his head coach is such a scrooge.

"I don't care about records," Mike Zimmer grumbled afterward, admitting that he knew how close Jefferson was to setting a team record. "I only care about wins."

We know, Zim. That third-and-15 draw play to little-used rookie Kene Nwangwu late in a meaningless game with Jefferson needing only 16 receiving yards to tie Randy Moss' single-season franchise record more than proved that point.

The snub left a perfect bow atop an infuriating season: Vikings fans loudly booing victory formation because the coach who likely will be fired denied the best and most popular player on the team an opportunity to break a record held by an all-time great.

The season was a disappointment. Everyone is angry. Changes are forthcoming. Why not give Jefferson a sweet reward for continuing to fight for the team, for the coaching staff?

Alas, Zimmer got his wish, a 31-17 win over the Chicago Bears in a finale that shifts the spotlight to the Wilf ownership to render franchise-altering decisions.

Jefferson finished 16 yards short of Moss' record of 1,632 receiving yards, which isn't the crime of the century but does offer another reminder that the Vikings offense failed to maximize its potential.

The Vikings finished outside the top 10 in the NFL in scoring for a second consecutive season. They were better than average but certainly not elite, which is unacceptable and requires new direction given their collection of high-end skill talent — Jefferson, Dalvin Cook and Adam Thielen.

The next offensive coordinator won't encounter an empty cupboard. This isn't a rebuild, though the offensive line's interior remains a liability that GM Rick Spielman has been unable to fix, which contributed to bouts of inconsistency.

The first half against the Bears served as a case study. The Vikings managed only 22 total yards on their first four possessions as the line played the role of turnstiles in getting Cousins battered.

The good-news offense appeared in the second half, as if turning on a light switch.


Throwing the ball to Jefferson is never a wrong choice, even when he improvises. On a pass play in the fourth quarter, Cousins expected Jefferson to run a post. Instead, he ran a go route. Cousins flung the ball down the field, Bears safety Eddie Jackson quit on the play and Jefferson had an easy 45-yard touchdown catch.

"Just throw it up, right?" Cousins told Jefferson on the sideline.

Replied Jefferson: "Yeah, that's all you've got to do."

Smart strategy.

Jefferson is a superstar who oozes confidence — in a good way.

Asked what makes him most proud about his season, he said, "That it was better than my first."

Asked what he learned about himself, he said, "One, I'm good at football."

His bravado elicits chuckles, nothing that is off-putting. Like 99.99999% of receivers, he wants the ball thrown his way a lot. But he also didn't pout after missing out on what could have been a record-breaking catch.

Anticipating double-coverage on Jefferson, Cousins threw a 21-yard touchdown to K.J. Osborn in the fourth quarter. Jefferson was wide open on the other side for what would have been an easy touchdown to break Moss' record.

Jefferson's initial thought when he was all alone: "Oh yeah this is me."

His reaction when he saw the ball going toward Osborn: "Aw man."

His reaction when he saw Osborn score: "OK cool."

"It's all good," he said. "I'll just try to get it another time."

Jefferson and Cousins acknowledged that they talked all week about trying to get the record. It clearly meant something to Jefferson. Unfortunately, his coach didn't share that sentiment.

"I'm just getting started," Jefferson said.

Most likely with a new coach and coordinator when he resumes.