MINNEAPOLIS — In a game where several players had a lot to prove, the Minnesota Vikings played like the dark horse contender they set out to be in 2019 as they handed the visiting Oakland Raiders a 34-14 loss Sunday.
The injury bug continued to hit the Vikings on the defensive side of the ball as the team played without starting linebacker Anthony Barr and cornerback Mackenzie Alexander. Barr has been hampered by a groin injury and was a late scratch, while Alexander has been out of action since injurying his elbow in Week 1 matchup against Atlanta.
The Vikings would be aided by two penalties from the Raiders to move down the field for their first touchdown of the day as quarterback Kirk Cousins hooked up with Adam Thielen for a 35-yard touchdown pass.
In the second quarter, Dalvin Cook would force his way into the endzone from a yard out for his fourth rushing touchdown of the season.
The ensuing drive, Oakland quarterback Derek Carr looked to hit his tight end on a third down play but overthrew the ball into the arms of Vikings safety Harrison Smith. Minnesota didn’t waste the gift as the team marched down the field and used a bit of trickery as a handoff to Thielen from a yard out gave the Vikings its third touchdown of the day.
Midway through the quarter, the Raiders would put together a seven-play scoring drive that was capped off by a flea flicker touchdown pass to J.J. Nelson for a 29-yard score.
The Vikings would continue to make a statement as the defense forced the Raiders to go three-and-out to open the half. Minnesota began to pull away in the third as Alexander Mattison leapt over a Raiders defender for a 10-yard touchdown, the first of his career.
The Raiders would play loose late in the third as head coach Jon Gruden dialed up plays on fourth down in an attempt to spark his offense. The first was successful, but the second gave the Vikings decent field position after a failed conversion. Moving the ball into Raiders territory, Minnesota had to settle for a 50-yard field goal from kicker Dan Bailey in the beginning of the fourth quarter.
In the fourth quarter, boos came out for former Vikings kicker Daniel Carlson as he lined up for a 51-yard field goal. Carlson had not missed a field goal since being cut by the Vikings after a horrendous Week 2 game against the Green Bay Packers in 2018. Carlson looked to extend his 17 consecutive field goal streak, but as the ball went off his foot it veered right and hit the upright.
After the Carlson miss, the Vikings used a heavy dose of Mattison and Mike Boone to move the ball to the Raiders six yardline before another Bailey field goal, this time from 24 yards. With the game well in hand and several backups playing the Raiders would add an additional touchdown on a 11-yard touchdown pass from Carr to Tyrell Williams.
Cook finished the day with 110 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown. Cousins would finish the afternoon 17-for-21 for 174 yards and a touchdown.
The Vikings will now travel to take on the defending NFC North champion Chicago Bears Sunday, Sept 29 at 3:25 p.m.