The Minnesota Vikings moved to 3-4 on the season with their 22-17 win over the San Francisco 49ers on Monday night, a victory that was keyed by the breakout play of their rookie wide receiver Jordan Addison.
The night got off to a dubious start for the 21-year-old receiver when it appeared he had a catch on his first target of the game, but San Francisco cornerback Charvarius Ward wrestled the ball out of Addison’s hands for an interception. But the rookie rebounded.
After Minnesota got the ball back on a fumble recovery, Addison had catches of 4, 11, and 20 yards on the ensuing drive, the last of which was a touchdown to take the early lead.
And then at the end of the first half Addison got revenge for the earlier play by Ward, turning the tables and this time plucking the ball out of the cornerback’s hands as he came down with it. Turning what looked like another 49ers interception into a Vikings touchdown, Addison sprinted the rest of the way into the end zone for a 60-yard score just before the break.
“We ask him to do a lot, and he did a lot for us tonight in the game plan,” head coach Kevin O’Connell said after the game. “For him to make that play on that ball where it was, it was a game-changing play.”
The 60-yard score was the biggest highlight in a stellar all-around showing for Addison, who posted season highs of seven catches, 10 targets, 123 yards and the two touchdowns.
Addison’s two touchdowns gave the Vikings a 16-7 lead after two quarters, and with the two scores, Addison became just the second Viking with six TDs through the first seven games of their rookie season, joining Hall of Famer Randy Moss.
“Clearly, the way Jordan responded, he had a couple tough catches in traffic … you can tell he made a decision that that’s not happening again, and it reflected in the way he played,” quarterback Kirk Cousins said.
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But in the third quarter Vikings fans collectively held their breath after Addison left the game with an apparent injury, going to the locker room after falling hard on a diving catch attempt. Luckily, it was just cramping, and after getting treatment, Addison returned in the fourth quarter.
He capped off his night by hauling in a key third-down conversion catch on the Vikings’ final drive, helping to run down the clock late in the game as Minnesota held on for the win, knocking off the 49ers for their second loss in as many weeks.
“Jordan’s been everything that I hoped for from the moment I put on the time from his time in college, but he’s been more than that,” O’Connell said. “He’s been really taking on a role within our team, within our offense, he’s earned an incredible amount of trust from Kirk and the rest of our guys, Jordan was fantastic tonight, and this is for sure a performance he can build on for the future.”
Addison, the No. 23 pick in this year’s draft, had already had a solid start to his first year in the NFL, having recorded 277 receiving yards and four touchdowns coming into Monday’s game.
But with a hamstring injury landing star wideout Justin Jefferson on injured reserve, Addison has been tabbed to fill his teammate’s big shoes, and fill them he did, putting together a dominant performance in Minnesota’s second game without Jefferson and doing so against one of the best defenses in the league.
“You’ve got to step up when it’s your time, and our first-round receiver, he has to step it up, and he showed up tonight,” safety Camryn Bynum said after the game in an interview with NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero. “We know he’s capable of all that, and always a baller. We expect that out of him, and really he’s a dawg. We expect that, and he’s going to keep ballin’.”
Addison will look to keep building on his performance in the Vikings’ next game against the division rival Packers, as Minnesota looks to get to .500 for the first time this season.
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