On Wednesday, head coach Doug Pederson praised the unselfishness Alshon Jeffery showed all season long in Philadelphia. His numbers aren’t as gaudy as they were in prior years but his nine receiving touchdowns this season were a team high. On Sunday, Jeffery faces the team he’s had the most success against in his entire career. When he was asked about that success, Jeffery’s response was fully in line with Pederson’s acclaim.
“I’m trying to get a win that’s all that matters," said Jeffery, who had four catches for 61 yards in the Divisional Round win over Atlanta. "I could care less about the stats.”
Jeffery has accumulated 685 receiving yards and seven touchdowns on 45 receptions in nine games against the Vikings. He had career highs of 12 catches for 249 yards in a 2013 showdown with Minnesota. In those games, however, Jeffery’s team won just three of those contests. Clearly, the stats aren’t enough in his eyes.
“This (is) not basketball. It’s football. Football, you need everybody. Players or anyone who has a lot of stats besides the quarterback, I don’t think the team is doing too well. I’m just being honest.” Jeffery said.
The former Chicago Bear explained that while the Bears-Vikings games were indeed a rivalry, the matchup didn’t relish as much hype as the Bears-Packers showdowns. In short, there’s no added motivation on Sunday. Still, a lot of eyes will be focused on the matchup between him and Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes.
“We had some good battles. He’s a great competitor. We like to compete against one another,” Jeffery said. “Strong, physical, I look forward to the battle.”
A two-time Pro Bowl selection, Rhodes earned first-team All-Pro honors this season. According to STATS, Rhodes gave up the fifth-fewest receiving yards (527) among players targeted at least 80 times this season. He also gave up just one touchdown.
“I've gone back and looked at that matchup in particular just to see the battle that went on and the types of things that Alshon did against him, and the coverage technique that he used,” Pederson said. “Does it apply to this game? Maybe a little bit. I think Alshon's a better player. I think he's (Rhodes) a much better player, obviously, and he's playing with a lot of confidence. It's going to be another great matchup again Sunday evening.”
What made Jeffery so successful in the past?
“Gameplanning and just playing the game within the play. Playing it one play at a time,” he said.
Yes, the NFC Championship is “an exciting time” but Jeffery intends to stay in the moment and treat this game just like he would any other.
“Of course we all know that we’re one game away from the Super Bowl but you've just got to relax and you can’t go out there and just think about that in the game,” he said. “You’ve got to just go play and be relaxed and stick to the things that got you here.”