Unfortunately for the Oakland Raiders, they didn’t get the start to their extended road trip they were looking for, as they fell to the Minnesota Vikings 34-14.
After the Vikings scored three touchdowns early, Mike Zimmer’s group cruised to their second win of 2019, as the Silver and Black just couldn’t find any type of sustained success at U.S. Bank Stadium.
The Silver and Black will fly back to California tonight, before beginning their preparation for the Indianapolis Colts on Wednesday.
Here are five observations from Sunday’s game.
1. The fast start just wasn’t there
The past two weeks, the Silver and Black have started fast.
First, against the Denver Broncos, Derek Carr and the Raiders set the tone early, and then last week, the group jumped out to an early 10-0 lead before ultimately falling to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Well, unfortunately for Head Coach Jon Gruden’s team, they couldn’t make it three weeks in a row with a fast start against the Vikings.
After Kirk Cousins and Co., marched down the field to take an early 7-0 lead, the Raiders proceeded to go three-and-out before giving the ball back to the Vikings.
By the time the teams returned to the locker room for halftime, the Vikings had extended their lead to 21-7, and while the Raiders didn’t go down without a fight, alas, that lead proved to be too much to overcome.
2. Dalvin Cook was problematic
Entering Sunday’s matchup at U.S. Bank Stadium, Dalvin Cook was the NFL’s leading rusher, and with another 100-plus yard performance against the Silver and Black, I don’t think he’ll be relinquishing that title for a while.
The Vikings fed Cook early and often, starting with the very first drive of the afternoon, and before was all said and done, the explosive runner had tallied 110 yards on 16 carries, and added a touchdown for good measure as well.
The former Florida State Seminole was key to the success the Vikings found early, as his 65 yards in the first half really helped the totality of the Minnesota offense.
Through the first two weeks, Paul Guenther’s group had done a stellar job limiting the run, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case Sunday.
Cook is a beast, and he showed that in a big way in his third outing of 2019.
Oh, and in addition to his work on the ground, he contributed in the passing game as well, hauling in four catches as well.
3. AJ Cole had a nice day
Look, I know a lot of you aren’t going to want to hear it, but A.J. Cole had a really nice day in Minneapolis.
Was the Raiders’ rookie punter called into action more than anyone on the team would have liked? Almost certainly, but nevertheless, give credit where it’s due as Cole was impressive against the Vikings.
Cole punted four times against the Vikings, and with a long of 60, his average for the afternoon was a very impressive 54.3 yards.
Not only that, but Cole also showed off a little finesse as well, putting two of his punts inside the 20-yard line.
Now, is the play of the punter typically one of the things you want to leave a game feeling good about? Perhaps not, but all the same, I think Sunday’s effort was the best of A.J. Cole’s very young career.
4. The big plays...
Oh, the big plays.
While the Raiders’ defense put together some nice stretches of football Sunday afternoon, their day was ultimately defined by the big plays they surrendered to the Minnesota offense.
Dalvin Cook got loose a handful of times, as did Irv Smith and Adam Thielen, and it felt like every time the Raiders put together a quality stretch, it was ultimately negated by an explosive play.
Look, the guys that feasted for the Vikings are all quality playmakers in their own right, but if Guenther’s group wants to right the proverbial ship headed into Indy next week, they’re going to have to find a way to limit giving up chunk yardage.
5. Darren Waller got his
Coach Gruden and the entire coaching staff have raved about Darren Waller since he joined the Silver and Black last year, and Sunday afternoon he showed why.
Albeit in a losing effort, Waller an absolute unit against the Vikings, as he recorded 13 catches for 134 yards.
Carr and the Raiders couldn’t get much cooking on the offensive side of the football against a really good Vikings secondary, but Waller made sure he ate.
Headed into 2019, there was an understandable curiosity if Waller would be able to fill the role that Jared Cook filled so admirably last year, and I think it’s safe to say that No. 83 is going to do that just fine.
Check out photos from the Raiders' regular season matchup against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium.