A strong effort in the 1st quarter and a scoring surge in the 4th quarter was not enough for the Vikings to overcome 21 second-quarter points allowed, the loss of Adrian Peterson and too many turnovers, as the Oakland Raiders scratched out a 27-21 victory at Mall of America Field on Sunday afternoon.
Coming off a poor outing last Monday night against Green Bay and returning home to face the AFC West-leading Raiders at home, the Vikings came out of the gates looking solid, and took a 7-3 lead into the 2nd quarter. The Vikings picked up 7 first downs, were 2 of 2 on 3rd downs, racked up 89 total yards and found the end zone on a 12-yard Peterson TD run in the opening quarter. Rookie QB Christian Ponder was 5 of 6 for 31 yards as well in the opening stanza, and it apparent the teams were in for an afternoon-long fight.
In the 2nd quarter, though, mistakes and misfortune turned the game around. Ponder threw an interception near the goal line, the Vikings botched a FG attempt, Lorenzo Booker fumbled a kickoff return, the Raiders outgained the Vikings 126-45 and Peterson was forced out of the game because of an ankle injury. It all added up to 21 points for the Raiders and zero points for the Vikings, and the visitors led 24-7 going into the locker room at halftime.
The key sequence in the 2nd quarter came after Raiders QB Carson Palmer found WR Chaz Schilens for an 11-yard TD score midway through the period. On the ensuing drive, the Vikings were set up for a 48-yard FG try when a mishandled snap led to a failed attempt. Eight plays later, Palmer guided the Raiders down to the goal line and RB Michael Bush finished the drive with a 2-yard TD plunge. Booker lost a fumble on the ensuing kick, and the Raiders scored yet another TD – this time on a Palmer sneak – to take a commanding 24-7 lead with just 12 seconds remaining in the 3rd quarter.
From that point on, though, the Vikings defense bowed up. Oakland was held to just 47 net yards, a 1 of 5 rate on 3rd down conversions and only 3 points in the 3rd quarter. The Vikings weren’t much better offensively, until the 4th quarter. Ponder found Percy Harvin for a 26-yard score on the first play of the quarter, the defense continued to play well, Letroy Guion blocked a FG attempt and then Ponder found fellow rookie Kyle Rudolph for another scoring, cutting into Oakland’s lead and making the score 27-21.
The Vikings defense did its job once again on Oakland’s next possession, forcing a punt and giving the ball back to Ponder and Co. for a try at a game-winning drive. Ponder found Michael Jenkins for one 1st down, but then the Raiders held on 4 consecutive plays to re-take possession and ultimately run the clock down to just 2 seconds remaining. A final desperation play didn’t work for the Vikings, and Oakland came away with a narrow 6-point victory after carrying a 17-point advantage into halftime.
The win improves Oakland’s record to 6-4 and gives them sole possession of 1st place in the AFC West. The Vikings drop to 2-8 on the season and will prepare for a road contest at Atlanta next week.
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