Written by Rance Gardner
After week 2's debacle in Green Bay with costly blown calls, turnovers and mishaps, the Vikings desperately needed to get back on track at home against Oakland. They did just that. Minnesota was able to put last week behind them and dominated the game from the kickoff. A well balanced effort by the run game, pass game, special teams and defense led the men in purple to victory.
On offense Kirk Cousins looked focused and ready to put his last game behind him. Cousins has had success bouncing back from losses in his career and plays better with the added motivation. The Viking rush attack was operating like a well oiled machine behind the efforts of Dalvin Cook and rookie Alexander Mattison. The run game allowed Cousins to operate the play action where he excels. He had plenty of time to see his targets and deliver accurate balls all afternoon. Adam Thielen scored 2 touchdowns and continues to dominate opposing defenders. Rookie tight end Irv Smith jr set the franchise record with 60 receiving yards in a game for a first year tight end. His burst is exactly what the Vikings don't have in Rudolph, but have needed for a few years. There are a couple injuries to watch as well as we approach week 4. Josh Kline suffered a concussion and will be evaluated later this week, and Chad Beebe suffered a lower leg injury.
The Vikings defense was at it again. They did not make today easy for Derek Carr and company. Raiders coach Jon Gruden looked furious all day on the sideline when Oakland was on offense. You love to see that as a defensive player or fan. They shut down the Oakland run game and kept the Raiders receivers in check. Mike Hughes made his return to the lineup and looked good in coverage during his first game back from a season ending knee injury last year. With Mack Alexander recovering from an elbow injury, Hughes' return could not have come at a better time. Anthony Barr missed the game due to injury but linebacker Eric Wilson stepped in as his replacement and continued to make plays as he did many times last season. Harrison Smith intercepted Carr on an overthrow on which he had to make a spectacular sliding catch to achieve. When the Vikings defense forces turnovers this team is very hard to beat. Danielle Hunter is a beast. He has a sack in every game this season and is only 2 sacks away from setting the NFL record for most sacks under the age of 25. He is an absolute monster. If the Vikings defense can remain healthy all season, this team will be in every single game. It's up to the 84 million dollar man go get them over the hump.
The Vikings are 2-1 heading into a difficult game in Chicago next week, but momentum is on their side. If they can run the ball on the road it will open up play action opportunities for Cousins and the Vikings multitude of weapons. Minnesota has dominated 11 of the 12 quarters they've played in this season. Vikings fans should feel good about the state of the team and the potential this team has. So put up your Kirk Cousins guillotines and get ready for a big game against the division rival Bears.