MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — NFL rushing leader Dalvin Cook cruised past the 100-yard mark for the third straight game, Kirk Cousins rebounded from his rattled performance the week before with a turnover-free afternoon, and the Minnesota Vikings rolled by the Oakland Raiders 34-14 on Sunday.
The defense had plenty to do with the victory, too. An interception by Harrison Smith of an overthrow by Oakland’s David Carr set up the second of two touchdowns by Adam Thielen to give the Vikings a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter. Eric Wilson had two of Minnesota’s four sacks.
Cook had 16 carries for 110 yards and a score in just three quarters, and his backups capably grabbed the baton. Rookie Alexander Mattison got his first NFL touchdown as the Vikings (2-1) rushed for 211 yards and didn’t even attempt a fourth-quarter pass for the second time in two home games. Last week in a loss at Green Bay, Cousins had three turnovers, including a first-and-goal interception in the end zone.
Cousins enjoyed a sack-free game for the first time in his Vikings career and finished a crisp 15 for 21 for 174 yards and one score to Thielen on their opening possession. That throw covered 35 yards, a rollout away from the play-action when he planted in front of a pressuring defensive tackle P.J. Hall and zipped the ball across the field, where Thielen was racing past safety Curtis Riley. That was one of three touchdown drives of 75-plus yards, and Thielen scored later on an inside handoff off a jet sweep at the goal line.
Carr went 27 for 34 for 242 yards and touchdowns to J.J. Nelson and Tyrell Williams. Tight end Darren Waller racked up 13 receptions for 134 yards, mostly in garbage time. Nelson scored on a 29-yard flea-flicker pass midway through the second quarter to pull the Raiders within two touchdowns. But they never came closer in this dispiriting start to a stretch of six straight weeks without playing in Oakland.
Dan Bailey made all four extra points and both of his field goals, including a 50-yard try, for the Vikings. The kicker he replaced a year ago, Daniel Carlson, was booed by the Minnesota crowd before he had a 48-yarder bang off the right upright. Carlson was cut after just his second game with the Vikings after missing three field goals in a tie with the Packers.
Two-dozen members of the 1969 Vikings team that won the final NFL championship before the merger and took the franchise’s first of four Super Bowl losses were feted at a halftime ceremony. The Purple People Eaters defensive line — Carl Eller, Gary Larsen, Jim Marshall and Alan Page — served as the honorary Gjallarhorn blowers before kickoff.
Raiders: Backup LB Marquel Lee hurt his ankle in the first quarter and didn’t return. LB Vontaze Burfict missed about half of the game with an elbow injury, but he was cleared to return in the third quarter.
Vikings: Wilson started for LB Anthony Barr, inactive with a groin injury. CB Mackensie Alexander missed his second straight game with an elbow injury, but CB Mike Hughes was back in the nickel role for the first time since tearing his ACL in the sixth game of last season. … RG Josh Kline left the game in the third quarter for evaluation in the concussion protocol. WR/PR Chad Beebe was also forced out with an ankle injury.
Raiders: at the Colts next Sunday. Their last victory in Indianapolis, where they have only played four times in their history, was in 2001 in Gruden’s first stint.
Vikings: at the Bears next Sunday. They have lost in nine of their last 11 visits to Chicago, winning in 2015 and 2017.