Jaire Alexander had some bold comments about star Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson, calling his Week 1 performance against the Packers a fluke. In the teams’ Week 17 matchup, the standout corner backed up his words.
Midway through the first quarter, Kirk Cousins targeted Jefferson 21 yards downfield at the Packers’ 24. The pass was thrown low and a bit behind Jefferson, but Alexander ensured the pass was broken up to bring up a third-and-10.
Following the pass breakup, Alexander mocked Jefferson with the receiver’s signature griddy dance move.
Jaire Alexander hitting the Griddy after defending Justin Jefferson 😂 pic.twitter.com/2DxqF6qXMa
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) January 1, 2023
Alexander’s celebration wasn’t by accident, either. The shuffling TD celebration has become the celebration of choice for many after Vikings wideout Jefferson brought it to the NFL in 2020.
So, it’s safe to say Alexander’s celebration was more of a taunt, and certainly wasn’t a coincidence.
“I was able to follow him. I was able to go to his side all game and I’m the type of person, I’m going to match intensity so that’s what I did all night,” Alexander told CBS’ Tracy Wolfson after the game. “I mean hats off to him. He’s still in my top-three receivers, he’s still a great receiver, but I’m confident in myself and I said what I said and I meant what I said.”
@tracywolfson interviews @JaireAlexander after #MINvsGB pic.twitter.com/OTCCT75Y0C
— Daniel Figueroa (@DanielFigueroaP) January 2, 2023
MORE: The Griddy dance origin– How Justin Jefferson started a new NFL TD celebration craze
There was little that went right for the Vikings in the first half. Minnesota settled for a field goal after blocking a Green Bay punt and starting at the Packers’ 1-yard line. The following kickoff was returned to the end zone by Packers’ returner Keisean Nixon for a touchdown to give Green Bay a 7-3 lead.
And there were some major issues in the Minnesota passing game. Kirk Cousins threw a pick-six to Darnell Savage with 5:17 left in the first quarter and a second interception two drives later, which Green Bay later turned into seven more points that extended the lead to 24-3. The Vikings also missed two field goals.
Green Bay went into the locker room with Mason Crosby drilling a 55-yard field goal, his longest of the season, to take a 27-3 lead.
MORE: Updated NFL standings, Week 17 playoff picture
Noticeable absent from the first-half box score is Jefferson. For the first time since his first NFL game, Jefferson was held without a catch in the first half. He was targeted four times. Alexander’s pass breakup was the first time Jefferson was targeted on the day. TJ Slaton helped stop the third pass and Adrian Amos picked off Cousins the final time Jefferson was targeted in the half.
Heading into the week, Alexander called Jefferson’s Week 1 nine-reception, 184-yard, two-touchdown week a “fluke” and said that he “doesn’t jump in no super suit.”
Jefferson finished the game with one catch for 15 yards. It was the second-fewest yards in a game in his career and it was the only time he had just one reception in an NFL contest.
MORE: Breaking down the Packers’ playoff chances
After the game, Aaron Rodgers praised Alexander for backing up his comments.
“Look when you talk the talk, you’ve got to back it up,” Rodgers said. “So I’m proud of 23, I mean he’s a great player, great guy. 18 for them is a stud. Absolute stud. It wasn’t one-on-one all game, I can promise you that because that’s guy’s too damn talented. But Jaire did a great job.”
“When you talk the talk, you have to back it up.”
— Aaron Rodgers on Jaire Alexander holding Justin Jefferson to one catch pic.twitter.com/MUW5KIV5wq
— IKE Packers Podcast (@IKE_Packers) January 2, 2023
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