Vikings’ playoff wait finally ends; Jefferson eyes big stage

EAGAN, Minn. (AP) — Justin Jefferson won the national championship with LSU in his last college game, making this three-year wait for a postseason appearance with Minnesota that much more frustrating for the NFL’s leading receiver.

Four weeks after clinching their division, and more than 32 months after drafting Jefferson, the NFC North champion Vikings have finally entered the playoffs.

“I enjoy those big-platform games, and of course I want to get to that Super Bowl,” Jefferson said after Minnesota’s 29-13 tuneup win at Chicago on Sunday. “So whoever’s standing in the way, we’ve got to knock them down.”

With a league-record 11-0 mark in one-score games this season, eight of them after trailing at some point in the fourth quarter, the Vikings have cut their teeth in more than their share of tense situations. This is another level of pressure, though, that Jefferson and several of his teammates have never experienced in purple.

The Vikings (13-4) will host the New York Giants (9-7-1) on Sunday in the wild-card round, the first playoff game at U.S. Bank Stadium since the Minneapolis Miracle last-play win over New Orleans five years ago. The last postseason game for the Vikings was a divisional-round loss at San Francisco three years ago.

“You have to have the mindset that, ‘I’m the only person that can stop this play or offensively I have to make this block or this won’t get a touchdown,’” defensive tackle Harrison Phillips said. “So being able to have that for a full 60 minutes or however long it takes, you have to some type of maturity. For our younger players who haven’t had that experience or even veteran players who never played in the playoffs, that could be a learning curve.”