This season’s receiver, KJ Osborne, has fallen behind other stars on the Vikings’ offense many times. He never complained.
While he certainly hoped to put together a breakout season, he knew that star receiver Justin Jefferson deserved a lion’s share of the workload, and that veteran receiver Adam Thielen would most likely be read next. Add in the fact that the Vikings acquired tight end TJ Hockenson at the trade deadline, and that Osborne isn’t always involved in the game plan.
That’s why Osborne’s performance for the Vikings in Saturday’s 39-36 overtime game against the Colts was so rewarding. He finished the day of his career with 10 catches for 157 yards and 1 touchdown. He ignited an impossible comeback just after halftime with a 63-yard reception followed by a 2-yard touchdown.
“Oh,” said Osborne. “It was amazing. I can’t say anything else but I feel so blessed and I’ve worked really hard and I’m happy that this day has come.”
This has been a long wait for Osborne. His biggest contribution so far came in a 28-24 win over the Lions in September. He finished that game with five catches for 73 yards and a touchdown in the final seconds to complete his comeback.
It was the last time Osborne exceeded 50 yards in a game. Until he got the ball out against the Colts.
“I told KJ a few weeks ago that his time would come,” said coach Kevin O’Connell. “Regardless of how our offense evolved or his value to us, I knew it would happen.” In that same breath, O’Connell admitted.
I didn’t do many.
Nonetheless, it’s clear Osborne has earned the trust of quarterback Kirk Cousins. But more importantly, Osborne earned Cousins’ respect for his ability to always put the team’s success ahead of his own. It takes a special player to do it every week.
“He’s the guy who can do it every week,” Cousins said. “It’s been hard for him to get the football he deserves and he’s shown the ability to deserve it. Throughout the season he felt we needed to give him more targets and more chances. He’s the real deal. So it was hard to get him involved like he is today.He showed what he can do today.I am totally convinced that he is an elite, elite receiver in this league.”
Asked which moment was the most memorable, Osborne said he again left it up to his teammates, this time kicker Greg Joseph, to decide the winner of the match in overtime.
“It was amazing,” said Osborne. “Just watching the place go crazy. I’m still trying to process everything that happened in this game. It was amazing.”
So did he.