PHOENIX — Justin Jefferson was named the Associated Press' NFL Offensive Player of the Year on Thursday night, becoming just the fifth wide receiver to win the award after a vaunted third season with the Vikings that even earned him votes for Most Valuable Player.

Other top vote-getters for Offensive Player of the Year included the two Super Bowl quarterbacks — the Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes and the Eagles' Jalen Hurts — and the Dolphins' Tyreek Hill, an electric receiver in his own right. Jefferson received 35 first-place votes and 192 points in the ranked-choice voting system, finishing ahead of Mahomes in second place with 10 first-place votes and 75 points.

“The amount of plays that I made this season, I'm definitely going to look forward to trying to outdo those plays and trying to outperform myself next season.”
Justin Jefferson

Jefferson is the third Vikings player to win the award in addition to quarterback Fran Tarkenton (1975) and running back Adrian Peterson (2012). Mahomes took MVP honors for the second time in his career, with 490 points; Jefferson was fifth in the voting with 55 points, the most for a non-quarterback.

"From where I come from, this doesn't happen often at all," said Jefferson, an unheralded recruit out of Destrehan High School in Louisiana. "So, to be having this award, it's amazing of all the blessings that I've been getting my whole career.

"I was just being doubted, always having that chip on my shoulder, not getting heavily recruited, not being listed as one of the top receivers, it definitely stick with me and it still stick with me today."

In an apparent surprise to Jefferson, his one-handed, fourth-and-18 catch late in the Vikings' 33-30 overtime win over the Bills was named the "Best Moment of the Year" later in the NFL Honors ceremony.

"I wasn't prepared for a second one," said Jefferson, thanking first-year Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell and quarterback Kirk Cousins, who also attended the event.

Jefferson played a versatile role in a pass-heavy offense that was similar to the usage that enabled receiver Cooper Kupp to win the 2021 Offensive Player of the Year award with O'Connell and the Rams. Jefferson collected 128 receptions for 1,809 receiving yards — both Vikings franchise records. Such dominance made him a unanimous first-team All-Pro selection and, at 23, the youngest player to lead the league in both aforementioned statistical categories, a distinction Packers receiver Don Hutson previously held since 1936.

Though he and his teammates fell short of a deep postseason run following their 31-24 loss to the Giants, Jefferson was the Vikings' offensive catalyst for their third 13-win regular season in franchise history with 80 first-down catches, 28 catches of 20-plus yards and 613 yards after his catches.

For a player of his caliber who's risen to that elite level in a short period of time, the challenge of improving may grow increasingly difficult with every season.

"Just looking at the film, seeing the things that I need to touch up on is definitely something that's going to be tough, but I'm always trying to get better at my craft," Jefferson said. "There's nothing that I can do that I do perfect, so it's just always just working on that and being humble about that, too. As long as people still list me as not the best receiver, I'm going to continue to try to prove those people wrong."

In November, Jefferson surpassed the threshold for most receiving yards through a player's first three NFL seasons set by Hall of Famer and former Viking Randy Moss almost 22 years ago. Jefferson had 10 100-yard performances this season, including his 223 yards that reset the Vikings' regular-season single-game record in a Dec. 11 loss to the Lions.

"The amount of plays that I made this season, I'm definitely going to look forward to trying to outdo those plays and trying to outperform myself next season," Jefferson said.

The 49ers' Nick Bosa was named Defensive Player of the Year, and two Jets, receiver Garrett Wilson and cornerback Sauce Gardner, swept the Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year awards. Giants first-year head coach Brian Daboll won Coach of the Year, for which O'Connell finished sixth in the voting, and Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith took home Comeback Player of the Year. Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott was named the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year for service off the field.