The Minnesota Vikings left at least ten points on the field today. They had only 122 net yards passing. Nobody on the team had more than two receptions.
And yet they won by 16 points. On the road. And now the Minnesota Vikings are 7-2, all alone in first place in the NFC North.
Let me say that again.
THE MINNESOTA VIKINGS ARE 7-2, ALL ALONE IN FIRST PLACE IN THE NFC NORTH.
Thanks to the Lions knocking out the Packers in Wisconsin for the first time since I was in 6th grade, the Vikes have leapfrogged the Pack in the standings. It was a great day for a victory, wasn't it, Puff Daddy and Biggie Smalls?
You know that I'm two levels above you baby
Hug me baby, I'ma make you love me baby
Talkin crazy ain't gonna get you nuthin but choked
And that jealousy is only gonna leave you broke
So the only thing left now is God for these cats
And BIG you know you too hard for these cats
I'ma win cause I'm too smart for these cats
While they makin up facts (uhh) you rakin up plats
Time for the fifth consecutive victory Stock Market Report.
Blue Chip Stocks
Terence Newman. All the hype coming into the game was about the ageless veteran Charles Woodson racking up interceptions. Instead it was the Vikings' ageless veteran picking off Derek Carr twice, including the game-sealing interception just before the two-minute warning:
And remember, he could have had a three! Newman was making plays throughout the game. This Vikings defense keeps finding people to step up every week. Newman has given the Vikings a strong veteran presence all year while assuring that Trae Waynes can develop at his own pace.
Linval Joesph. Ho hum. Just another five tackles, a forced fumble, a sack, and numerous disruptions for one of the best defensive linemen in the league. And that sack might have left a permanent dent in the O.co Coliseum turf:
Joseph is just a special player who is playing at the very highest level right now. You're next, Aaron Rodgers.
Adrian Peterson. The passing attack struggled all day, but All Day didn't struggle. Peterson had the sixth 200-yard day of his career on Sunday, tied for most in NFL history. While the Vikings defense held the Raiders to 84 total rushing yards, AP had 80 on Minnesota's final offensive play of the game to seal the deal.
Peterson's running is the main reason this offense is putting up points at the moment. There hasn't been a drop-off for this 30-year-old running back.
Cordarrelle Patterson. No, this isn't a typo. Flash actually contributed to the team in a major way! He had a six yard run!
And oh yeah he had another decent play too:
It couldn't have come at a better time either. The Minnesota offense was sputtering and Oakland had just taken their first lead of the game. Patterson ensured that the lead lasted all of 13 seconds.
After the game, Patterson avoided most of the Vikings media and declined comment. I can't say I blame him. We have been ripping on the guy all season, and he goes ahead and provides what might have been the most important play of the game. Way to remind us why you still have a spot on this roster, CP.
Marcus Sherels. The man continues to be a special teams beast. He's absolutely everywhere on coverage teams and made a couple key tackles. He even muffs punts directly to teammates!
Everson Griffen. Griff didn't have huge numbers, although he did pick up another sack. He was incredibly disruptive on Sunday, forcing Carr to miss passes or throw the ball away on a number of occasions.
Anthony Barr. He didn't have any of his usual "wow" plays on Sunday but he did have six tackles and help keep Oakland's rushing attack at bay (pun intended). Barr is doing an excellent job of keeping everything in front of him instead of going for the "home run" play every time.
Chad Greenway. As great American philosopher Lloyd Christmas said in Dumb and Dumber: "Senior citizens, although slow and dangerous behind the wheel, can still serve a purpose!" With Eric Kendricks out, Greenway once again proved more than serviceable playing a bigger role on the defense. Tackling is an art form that this cagey veteran hasn't lost the knack for.
Kyle Rudolph. Yes, this drop in the first quarter was atrocious:
But Rudolph has basically been a season-long Junk Bond. He is now in the 5th year of his career. He has amassed more than 30 receptions exactly once and has never topped 500 yards in a season. Nobody is expecting him to put up Gronk numbers but he has to be a much bigger part of the offense to justify that salary.
Andrew Sendejo. With the strong winds Derek Carr was basically tossing up footballs like a glorified game of "500" for most of the second quarter. Sendejo was helpless to do anything about it as Oakland moved the ball up and down the field. Sendejo got a great view of Andre Holmes' go-ahead touchdown in the first half since he was only a full step behind Holmes in coverage.
Can we just turn Sendejo to an undersized linebacker? He's still pretty good at stopping the run. Or here's an idea: how about trying Antone Exum Jr. out at safety?! He showed some sound tackling skills on a fan in the fourth quarter.
The wide receivers not getting open or Teddy Bridgewater being too careful. Without seeing the all-22 film I can't be sure which one it was today, but one of those two problems happened way too often. Oakland's pass defense had been getting lit up prior to this week but once again the Vikings passing offense was anemic. Bridgewater either had time or bought time with his legs several times only to end up throwing the ball away. If the Vikings are having that much trouble creating separation against this secondary, that's a big concern. If Bridgewater is having that much trouble pulling the trigger to throw downfield, that might be an even bigger concern.
Buy: Norv Turner integrating a handful of wide receiver runs early in the game. The runs to Stefon Diggs, Patterson, and Adam Thielen were all effective and kept Oakland's defense guessing. The "scripted" plays from the Vikings offense at the beginning of games have been mostly impressive this season.
Sell: Turner going away from the misdirection after the Vikings got the lead. The Vikings have been fortunate enough to build some nice early leads this season, and they did again today. Then they tend to get incredibly vanilla once they get those leads. I won't complain too much since the Vikings keep winning but it makes you wonder if they could have stomped on the Raiders' throats early on.
Buy: Harrison Smith's 100% legal decimation of Amari Cooper. My goodness that was a punishing hit.
They don't call him Hitman Harry for nothing.
Sell: The return of Sharrif Floyd. It will be interesting to see the snap counts for the Vikings' defensive line, because Sharrif sure seemed to have a quiet day. It makes you wonder if he was 100% yet.
Buy: Turnovers and penalties still matter. The Vikings didn't turn the ball over and committed only 3 penalties for 15 yards. The Raiders had two turnovers and 8 penalties for 82 yards. If those numbers were closer the outcome would have been too.
Sell: Sputtering in the red zone and still winning is sustainable. I know the Vikings are in the midst of a five-game winning streak, but they still aren't finishing off drives with any regularity. Blair Walsh attempted five field goals today while the Vikings scored all of one red zone touchdown. (Yes, I know it should have been two, but it wasn't.)
Buy: Gunslingin' Teddy Bridgewater. This would have been an amazing conversion if Matt Asiata didn't step out of bounds before the first down. But it's still worth watching again.
If only Teddy could improvise like that on passes that traveled more than 4 feet.
Sell: This is the return of "bad" Blair Walsh. He pushed a 53-yarder before halftime and he had another blocked because he was trying to kick it low to keep it out of the wind. It certainly wasn't his best day but I don't think the misses mean that another downward streak is about to start again.
Buy: The Vikings continue to make the naysayers look stupid. Like me. I picked the Raiders to win today. Shows how much I know about football. Every Vikings win seems to be met with "yeah, but..." by the experts. At this rate the experts are going to have to explain away the reasons the Vikings made the playoffs.
Sell: Xavier Rhodes making "the leap" this year. Most of us thought Rhodes was poised to become the NFL's next shutdown corner. If anything he is regressing this season. Rhodes allowed something called Clive Walford to score the Raiders' first touchdown and has looked pretty average most of the season.
Buy: It's our division to lose. The Vikings have fought their way to first place, but the fight is just beginning. The past five weeks have proven that the Vikings deserve to be at the top. The next four weeks will determine if the Vikings deserve to remain at the top.
Sell: Teddy Bridgewater and Mike Wallace getting on the same page. When Teddy missed Wallace in the corner of the end zone on a third down, I joked about how they were at least in the same zip code this time. For whatever reason every game these two play together looks like the first time they have been on the same team.
Gemma Thompson Quote of the Day
When my daughter wasn't painting pine cones she found on our morning walk, making necklaces out of Froot Loops, or keeping her mother and I on our toes with the adventures of potty training, she did sit down with me to watch the game here and there. She ran into the living room after hearing me holler about Newman's interception so she got to watch Adrian Peterson run for 80 yards. After AP broke free, she turned to me and exclaimed:
"Look at him go Daddy!"
Yes, Gemma, look at him go. And look at the Vikings go to 7-2 and first place in the NFC North.