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Perhaps lost in the craziness of Saturday’s historic Minnesota Vikings comeback victory over the Indianapolis Colts were the two big hits that Justin Jefferson took from Colts defenders.
Twice Jefferson was knocked out of the game and both instances led to Kirk Cousins interceptions while he was being attended to on the sideline. Jalen Reagor replaced Jefferson on the field and ran poor routes that helped cause the turnovers.
Vikings coach not happy about high hits on Justin Jefferson
But the bigger takeaway for the Vikings is how often Jefferson is being targeted with high hits from opponents.
Minnesota head coach Kevin O’Connell addressed the hits after Saturday’s game and brought them up again Monday.
“It was about the fifth or sixth week in a row he took a type of hit that drew a flag,” O’Connell said. “Clearly there’s an emphasis (from) the teams we’re playing that, some of those hits, they don’t just seem to be by accident at times.”
After the game Saturday, according to ESPN, O’Connell spoke about the need for the league to protect its stars.
“I think we’ve got to protect him a little bit better,” O’Connell said Saturday. “Great to get the flags, but … he’s too important to our league. Seems like a weekly occurrence at this point.”
It’s an interesting point from O’Connell. The NFL has no problem protecting quarterbacks. There have been more than a few controversial roughing the passer calls this season. And the league always leans on protecting the quarterback.
But when it comes to keeping other players safe, the emphasis seems to be much less. And to O’Connell’s point, Jefferson is absolutely a superstar in the NFL.
If you’re a Vikings fan paying to see the team play, you want Jefferson on the field. He’s arguably more important to the team than quarterback Kirk Cousins.
The NFL is always talking about player safety. But they seem to mean quarterback safety.
Let’s see if they respond to O’Connell’s comments about Justin Jefferson.
I won’t hold my breath.
Follow Dan Zaksheske on Twitter: @OutkickDanZ