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Raiders barely escape themselves and Vikings

The Raiders came into Minnesota as the favorites to beat the 2-7 Vikings. Early on, it looked like they would run away with the win. But the Raiders wouldn’t let themselves get away that easily. They were barely able to survive several penalties and turnovers to come away with the win over the Vikings 27-21.

The penalties started early for the Raiders. They were called for three big penalties, two that came on third down, on the Vikings’ second possession that kept the drive alive. The drive ended in a 13 yard touchdown run by Adrian Peterson.

The Raiders were able to answer the Vikings touchdown with a field goal. The Raiders began the drive with great field position at their own 45 yard line after a big Taiwan Jones kick return. The chip shot field goal was set up by a 20 yard run by Marcel Reece that put them in the red zone.

The Vikings were dealt a blow near the end of the first quarter when their All Pro running back Adrian Peterson injured his ankle and left the game. The injury didn’t stop the Vikings from driving the ball, however, as they were able to pick up huge chunks of yardage on the next two plays—a 28 yard scramble by Christian Ponder followed by a 24 yard hookup to Percy Harvin.

The Vikings would drive to the Raiders’ 21 yard line until Ponder was picked off by safety Matt Giordano at the five yard line and returned the interception 42 yards. That ended the Vikings drive without a score and put the Raiders in business at their 47 yard line.

The Raiders took advantage of the short field and drove for a touchdown. The drive was highlighted by a 21 yard diving grab by tight end Brandon Myers and was finished off with a strike from Carson Palmer to Chaz Schilens in the corner of the endzone.

On their next possession, the Vikings drove on the Raiders yet again, thanks in part to another big scramble by Christian Ponder. They lined up for a 48 yard field goal and Tyvon Branch came shooting in to block it. With Branch bearing down, Vikings’ kicker Chris Kluwe stopped on his attempt and Branch tackled him for a loss.

The botched field goal attempt again gave the Raiders great field position—this time at their 43 yard line. On the second play from scrimmage, Michael Bush shot up the middle for 28 yards. Then after a nifty shovel pass to Marcel Reece, Bush finished off the drive with a three yard plunge into the endzone to put the Raiders up 17-7.

On the ensuing kick return, Brandon Myers laid a hard hit on the Vikings return man to force a fumble. The Raiders would recover the fumble at the Vikings’ 16 yard line. They scored a touchdown three plays later on a Carson Palmer one yard sneak and headed into the locker room up 24-7.

The third quarter began with both defenses making stops. On the first five combined series, there was one first down total. After a third straight Raider three and out, Ponder attempted a short pass on first down and it was tipped and intercepted by the Raiders’ Tommy Kelly. The Raiders took the ball at the Vikings’ 24 yard line and added a field goal for a 27-7 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Then, as has been the case so often this season, things began to unravel for the Raiders.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Percy Harvin took a screen pass 26 yards for a touchdown and the Vikings were still alive, down just two scores at 27-14.

The Raiders tried to respond with a score of their own. They drove into field goal range after Darrius Heyward-Bey caught three passes for 35 yards. On the final catch, his helmet was taken off by the knee of a Minnesota defender and he didn’t get up. He was taken away on a stretcher but gave a big thumbs up on his way off the field.

The drive stalled there and Janikowski’s 49 yard field goal attempt was blocked to keep the Raiders scoreless on the drive.

The next Vikings’ possession was going nowhere. But with a two score deficit and time running out, they went for it on fourth down and Raider corner Lito Sheppard was called for pass interference to give them a first down. All told there were four huge penalties on the drive by the Raiders that put the Vikings in first and goal at the ten yard line. They were bailed out when Stanford Routt intercepted a Ponder pass in the end zone for a touchback.

With 8:10 remaining, the Raiders looked to Michael Bush to run the ball and put the game away. He started off with two nice runs of 8 and 13 yards but then fumbled on the next play to give the Vikings the ball at the Raiders’ 38 yard line. Two plays later, a 37 yard catch and a one yard catch, the Vikings scored a touchdown to pull within one score of the win (27-21).

The Raiders’ went from what looked like an easy win in the third quarter to a nailbiter in the closing minutes. They would need to eliminate the big penalties and mistakes to finish out the game.

With five minutes left, they started their next drive on their own nine yard line thanks to a holding penalty on the kick return. They moved the ball as far as their own 39 yard line before Palmer was sacked to end the drive.

The Vikings would get one first down and drive the ball to near midfield before the Raiders’ defense tightened up. They were forced to go for it on fourth down and eight, and Raiders’ safety Tyvon Branch knocked down the pass attempt to end the threat and give the Raiders the ball back.

With less than two minutes remaining, the Raiders were able to run the clock down and punt it away with just :13 seconds left to play. The game ended on a short pass and failed lateral attempt.

As has been the case much of this season, the story for the Raiders was penalties. They had 12 penalties for 117 yards in this game. They lead the league by a large margin and continue to commit penalties at a record pace this season.

The penalties overshadowed some impressive feats by the Raiders. Michael Bush ran for 109 yards becoming the first running back to gain more than 100 yards on the Vikings since last season.

Vikings All Pro defensive end Jared Allen was held without a sack after entering this game as the NFL sack leader (13.5) and having had a sack in 11 straight games.

The fumble by Bush in the fourth quarter was the only turnover by the Raiders all day. On the other side of the ball, the Raiders forced five turnovers. They intercepted Ponder three times and forced two lost fumbles. This was Carson Palmer’s first game as a Raider in which he was not intercepted.

Box Score

Oakland Raiders (6-4-0) Minnesota Vikings (2-8-0)
C. Palmer 17/23 164 1 0
M. Bush 30 109 1 28
M. Reece 6 45 0 20
C. Palmer 3 5 1 4
T. Jones 2 3 0 2
Receiving REC YDS TD LG
D. Heyward-Bey 4 43 0 20
K. Boss 5 37 0 11
B. Myers 2 23 0 21
M. Bush 2 20 0 10
M. Reece 2 16 0 12
D. Moore 1 14 0 14
C. Schilens 1 11 1 11T
M. Bush 1 1 0 0
D. Bryant 0 0 0 0
A. Curry 0 0 1 0
D. Van Dyke 0 0 1 0
Kicking FG LG XP PTS
S. Janikowski 2/3 29 3/3 9
Punting NO AVG I20 LG
S. Lechler 6 37.7 0 64
Kickoff Returns NO AVG TD LG
B. McCann 2 29 0 36
T. Jones 1 46 0 46
D. Moore 1 20 0 20
Punt Returns NO AVG TD LG
D. Moore 2 17 0 34
Defense T-A SCK INT FF
L. Sheppard 6-0 1.0 0 0
T. Branch 5-1 0.0 0 0
M. Giordano 4-0 0.0 1 0
M. Huff 4-0 0.0 0 0
D. Bryant 3-0 2.0 0 1
T. Kelly 3-0 2.0 1 0
A. Curry 2-2 0.0 0 0
R. McClain 2-1 0.0 0 0
S. Routt 2-0 0.0 1 0
K. Wimbley 2-2 0.0 0 0
J. Henderson 1-3 0.0 0 0
L. Houston 1-1 0.0 0 0
C. Ponder 19/33 211 2 3
C. Ponder 5 71 0 28
A. Peterson 6 26 1 12T
P. Harvin 5 21 0 18
T. Gerhart 7 18 0 8
C. Kluwe 1 -12 0 -12
Receiving REC YDS TD LG
P. Harvin 6 73 1 26T
D. Aromashodu 1 42 0 42
V. Shiancoe 2 42 0 37
M. Jenkins 4 30 0 15
T. Gerhart 1 7 0 7
K. Rudolph 3 7 1 4
R. D’Imperio 1 6 0 6
G. Camarillo 1 4 0 4
L. Booker 1 1 0 0
M. Jenkins 1 1 0 0
C. Ponder 1 0 0 0
B. Robison 0 0 1 0
Kicking FG LG XP PTS
R. Longwell 0/0 0 3/3 3
Punting NO AVG I20 LG
C. Kluwe 3 33.0 2 50
Kickoff Returns NO AVG TD LG
L. Booker 3 20 0 28
P. Harvin 1 14 0 14
M. Sherels 1 35 0 35
Punt Returns NO AVG TD LG
M. Sherels 5 7 0 15
Defense T-A SCK INT FF
EJ. Henderson 7-2 1.0 0 0
C. Greenway 7-8 1.0 0 0
Ty. Johnson 5-2 0.0 0 0
C. Griffin 4-1 0.0 0 0
A. Allen 3-0 0.0 0 0
J. Sanford 3-3 0.0 0 0
K. Williams 3-5 1.0 0 0
F. Evans 2-2 0.0 0 0
B. Robison 2-2 1.0 0 0
E. Griffen 1-1 0.0 0 0
K. Onatolu 1-0 0.0 0 0
B. Sapp 1-1 0.0 0 0
J. Allen 0-2 0.0 0 0
R. Ayodele 0-2 0.0 0 0
M. Raymond 0-1 0.0 0 0

Stay tuned tomorrow as I will break down individual performances in Ballers & Busters.

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