Raiders vs. Vikings: 5 Most Deflating Storylines in Minnesota's Loss to Oakland
This loss ultimately drops the Vikings to a 2-8 record, with very few signs of improvement showing.
The Vikings defense, a unit for which they were known not so long ago, is riddled with holes due to injuries and disappointments. With four defensive starters inactive in the game, it was no surprise that the Vikings defense looked anemic, but it was the lack of fire and inspiration that truly made it hard to watch.
Though the game finished with a score of 27-21, it did not feel as close of a game as the score indicated. Despite the seemingly endless list of penalties on the Raiders, it truly felt like the Vikings were a junior varsity squad playing against a varsity Oakland team.
There wasn't just one thing that went wrong for the Vikings in this game, either; they just seemed to be coming apart at the seams. Despite the Vikings staging a late near-comeback, it became even more apparent how much rebuilding the team must do to once again be relevant in the NFL.
That being said, here are the five most deflating storylines in Minnesota's loss to the Oakland Raiders.
Jared Allen Ineffective
Throughout this season, right defensive end Jared Allen has been the life and identity of this Minnesota Vikings defense.
After recording a sack in 11 straight games, Allen was considered one of the biggest candidates for the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year. So far this season, Allen has recorded 41 tackles, 13.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and one interception.
The Vikings got to the QB four times against the Raiders, but not one of those times was Jared Allen's number called at the end of the play. Instead, he recorded a mere two total tackles and only made Oakland's offensive line look more impressive.
The player considered to be one of the NFL's most dangerous pass-rushers was left in the dust. Because he's been the identity of this defense for so long now, Allen's lack of production was truly deflating for the Minnesota Vikings.
Ponder, Offensive Line Completely out of Sync
Rookie QB Christian Ponder has been one of a few bright spots for the Vikings this season. After looking very impressive in his first NFL start against the Green Bay Packers and then again in his first NFL victory against the Carolina Panthers, he seems to have hit some kind of wall.
That wall is the offensive line's ineptitude to pick up the pass rush. Don't get me wrong, Ponder's ability to make plays with his feet is nothing short of miraculous to Vikings fans who have long been desperate for a competent play-caller.
What I'm saying is that he shouldn't have to make as many plays on the ground, but the offensive line forces him to be either flushed out of the already micro-sized pocket, or completely consumed by opposing pass-rushers.
After being sacked a total of eight times over the last two games, it's a wonder that Ponder is still walking—especially with the power that he is continually blasted with.
Even though I'm putting so much of this on the offensive line, Ponder wasn't perfect either. He threw three interceptions in this game—and ugly ones at that. I'm sure the pressure had something to do with it, but Ponder's decision-making really came into question against the Raiders.
The most deflating part of this storyline is that it can't be fixed with any sort of quick solution. The Vikings will either have to address this problem in free agency at the end of the season or through the NFL draft, but either way, Ponder with have to endure six more games of opposing defenses gunning for his head.
Defensive Secondary in Shambles
It's no secret that the Vikings defensive secondary is a weakness. They rank 30th in the league against the pass and are down their two best cornerbacks for the season.
In addition to missing Chris Cook and Antoine Winfield against the Raiders, the Vikings were down starting free safety Husain Abdullah as well. Though Abdullah is not a star player by any means, he's arguably the only competent safety on the team. His absence was definitely felt as Oakland's tight ends were allowed to roam all over the field.
Though the Vikings have been pretty terrible against the pass, they've always been pretty strong against the run, even ranking sixth in the NFL leading up to this game. That wasn't the case against Oakland, however, as Michael Bush was allowed to run for more than 100 yards and basically embarrassed this defense.
So isn't that on the front seven?
No. The Vikings defensive secondary should have been able to come up and help in run support as they have all season. With the team bringing extra players in the pass rush, it is up to the safeties to wrap up and not allow the running backs into the second level of the defense.
This, again, isn't something that is going to get better before the end of the season either. Vikings fans will have to sit and watch their team get burned by opposing quarterbacks for six more weeks.
Like I said, for most of the game this one didn't even feel close. The reality is, however, that the Vikings were allowed to stay in this game because of Oakland's costly turnovers and penalties.
The Raiders committed 12 penalties for a total of 117 yards. Though the Vikings should have been denied any life in this game by the third quarter, Ponder was able to lead his squad back within a touchdown of winning this ballgame.
Those hopes fell short, however, as the Vikings just couldn't keep the momentum going late into the game. After passing touchdowns to both Percy Harvin and Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota's offense looked pretty stagnant when it mattered most.
After mounting an exciting comeback, the Vikings' efforts fell short at home—probably the most deflating circumstance in all of sports.
Adrian Peterson Injured
Amidst all of the turmoil that the Vikings face on a weekly basis, Adrian Peterson is still the best running back in the NFL.
Peterson has rushed for 846 yards and 10 touchdowns so far this season and was on pace to break the Minnesota Vikings record for most career rushing yards in the game against the Raiders.
This record will have to wait at least a week, as the All-Pro running back injured his ankle in the first quarter of the game and did not return.
Before leaving the game, Peterson had rushed for 26 yards and a touchdown, but his absence was certainly felt.
Without the centerpiece of their offense, the Vikings have little to no offensive explosiveness and couldn't make plays until Oakland started shooting themselves in the foot late in the game.
Peterson's X-rays came back negative, and he was seen walking around normally on the sideline in the second half of the game. That, however, doesn't ease the uncertainty surrounding the star player. He's scheduled to have MRIs on his ankle, but nothing is guaranteed heading into next week's game.
Peterson's absence wasn't just deflating because he is the star of this team, but because with Peterson the outcome of the game almost certainly would have been different. Instead of running the ball all over the Raiders, as they were expected to, the Vikings could be waiting awhile for the second coming of their Purple Jesus.
We can only hope that he will be able to rise again next Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons.
Thanks for reading.