After a disappointing loss last week, the Minnesota Vikings responded by demolishing the Oakland Raiders on Sunday inside U.S. Bank Stadium.
The Minnesota Vikings came into this week looking for a way to get back to what they do best. After failing to get off to a good start in Week 2 against the Green Bay Packers, Mike Zimmer put an emphasis on coming out of the gates strong so that the Vikings could ride their talented running game and defense to victory.
Sunday’s matchup with the Oakland Raiders followed that script as Minnesota jumped out to an early 21-0 lead before pounding the Raiders in the trenches on the way to a 34-14 victory at U.S. Bank Stadium.
The Vikings got off to their coveted fast start, but it was the arm of Kirk Cousins that actually got things going for them. After looking frazzled throughout most of last week’s loss to the Packers, Cousins came up big on Sunday, connecting on a 20-yard pass to Irv Smith Jr. before finding Adam Thielen for a 35-yard touchdown to put the Vikings ahead 7-0 in the first quarter.
Minnesota built off that a couple drives later as a big pass play to Stefon Diggs resulted in a face mask penalty on Oakland defender Gareon Conley and ultimately lead to a one-yard touchdown plunge by Dalvin Cook.
The 14-0 advantage did wonders for the Vikings’ defense this week, who made Raiders quarterback Derek Carr look miserable throughout the afternoon with three sacks including two from linebacker Eric Wilson, who was filling in for Anthony Barr.
Pressure on Carr eventually forced an interception into the arms of Minnesota safety Harrison Smith that then set up a touchdown run from Thielen at the goal line to increase the Vikings’ lead to 21-0.
Although the Raiders would strike with a flea-flicker from Carr to a wide-open J.J. Nelson before halftime, the damage had been done and Minnesota was ready to pound Oakland on the ground.
For the third straight week, Cook was the ringleader of the Vikings’ ground attack, collecting 110 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries and adding four receptions for 33 yards. Rookie Alexander Mattison also got in on the action, leaping over a Raiders defender in the third quarter to score a 10-yard touchdown.
Minnesota racked up 211 yards on the ground against an Oakland defense that came into the afternoon allowing just 2.8 yards per carry.
A pair of Dan Bailey field goals increased the lead to 34-7 in the fourth quarter and the Vikings ended up leaving the field with a 34-14 victory.
With the win, Minnesota improves to 2-1 on the season and it’s a big win considering they have a big NFC North showdown with the Chicago Bears next week. With the Bears playing on Monday night, the 4:25 p.m. ET start next Sunday may determine which team has the inside track on chasing the undefeated Packers for division supremacy.