Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell wonders whether star receiver Justin Jefferson is being targeted by opposing teams.
"I think it's about the fifth or sixth week in a row he took a type of hit that drew a flag," he told reporters Monday. "Clearly, there's an emphasis on the teams we're playing that some of those hits, they don't just seem to be by accident at times."
In the fourth quarter of the Vikings' 39-36 overtime win over the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday, referees flagged Colts safety Rodney Thomas II for unnecessary roughness for a hit on Jefferson. On the Vikings' next drive, Colts cornerback Stephon Gilmore was flagged for unnecessary roughness against Jefferson as well.
NFL Network's Tom Pelissero noted the Minnesota staff took exception to the latter sequence:
Tom Pelissero @TomPelissero
O'Connell and others on the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Vikings?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Vikings</a> sideline were livid after Stephon Gilmore's leaping hit on Justin Jefferson on Saturday, wanting him ejected. Gilmore was allowed to stay in the game. <a href="https://t.co/XUBzQxZhvM">https://t.co/XUBzQxZhvM</a>
The two-time Pro Bowler leads the NFL in receptions (111) and receiving yards (1,623), and he has eclipsed 150 yards on four occasions. Calvin Johnson's single-season record (1,964 yards) is within reach over the final three weeks.
Because of his consistency, Jefferson will always be a focal point of a team's defensive game plan. O'Connell seems to believe the Vikings' opponents are crossing a line when it comes to covering the dynamic wideout.