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Justin Jefferson wasn't at his best on Sunday, but even one of his not-so-great days can leave two good cornerbacks shaking their heads in a losing locker room.

Just ask Jets veteran D.J. Reed and rookie fourth overall draft pick Sauce Gardner, one of the league's best duos and a key to the NFL's fourth-ranked scoring defense.

"Right now, I'm just frustrated because I did my thing," Reed said after the Vikings' 27-22 win, adding that he was in Jefferson's ... um ... let's say, his face the whole game. "But he ran one great route against me."

Reed was talking about Jefferson's only catch of the second half – a 10-yard touchdown on third-and-6 that gave the Vikings a 27-15 lead with 8:33 left in the game. Jefferson finished with seven catches on 11 targets for 45 yards, his third-fewest this season.

The touchdown was the only time the Jets moved their cornerbacks, switching Reed to the left side of the defense across from Jefferson.

"We switched because in the red zone, I go to the boundary [wide side]," Gardner said. "That's where they like to do jump balls. That's usually where the ball goes."

On every other play, Gardner was on the left and Reed on the right side of the defense. When Jefferson moved into the slot, he was covered by Michael Carter II and Brandin Echols. And, of course, the Jets' zone-heavy scheme also called on safety Jordan Whitehead to double some over the top and linebacker C.J. Mosley to do his best to help bracket Jefferson on occasion over the middle.

For the record, Jefferson lined up wide right 21 times, in the right slot seven times, slot left five times and wide left 16 times. He caught two balls for 14 yards and two third-down conversions against Gardner and three balls for 20 yards and the TD against Reed. The other two catches for 11 yards and one third-down conversion came from the slot.

Jefferson also ran a jet sweep for 3 yards and had an 8-yard run on run-pass option. But it was the route he ran on the touchdown that had Reed especially upset.

He said he wishes he had been allowed to play press coverage that close to the goal line. Instead, Jefferson completely fooled Reed at the top of his route.

"I anticipated something else," Reed said. "Then it looked like he was running eight different routes at the top of his route."

Reed guessed inside. Jefferson, who was surprised to see the 5-9 Reed and not the 6-3 Gardner on that side, released outside.

"I'm glad he said" it looked like eight different routes, Jefferson said. "That's what I want him to think. Just marrying everything to make it look the same. At the top of the route, I kind of have a double up and hit it to the outside. Kind of just lulled him to sleep on that play. And it was a good spot by Kirk [Cousins]."

Jefferson disputed Reed's mastery of him, writing on Twitter Sunday night, "You can't talk having safety help…call me when yo coach trust you to go 1v1."

Cousins was off Sunday. Of the four targets that didn't find Jefferson, three were uncatchable, while one was a bad drop while Jefferson was running free over the middle against zone coverage that was asking way too much of poor Mosley.

"I hate it," Jefferson said of the drop. "It's going to haunt me tonight watching it. But I'm human. It happens sometimes."

Not often.

Jefferson also drew three penalties on the Vikings' third possession. Reed and Gardner each were called for holding Jefferson. Whitehead was then penalized for unnecessary roughness on a helmet-to-helmet hit on Jefferson at the end of a 10-yard catch on third-and-5 at the Jets' 19.

"We definitely wanted to get our hands on Jefferson and be physical with him," Whitehead said. "He's one of the best receivers in the league."

Gardner said Jefferson is "a good receiver who is what the media says he is, but he also puts his pants on just like we do."

Meanwhile, Reed seemed frazzled by being frustrated by a guy who had fewer than 50 yards receiving.

"I held my own for sure against him," Reed said. "But I also don't want to give up a touchdown and be the reason my team loses."