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Cousins Rebounds, Defense Stays Strong. Vikings Defeat the Oakland Raiders 34-14

By: Noah Phillips
Date: September 22nd, 2019
Photo by: Cameron Daphlin

       The Minnesota Vikings (2-1) dominated the Oakland Raiders (1-2) in a 34-14 win. A game where Kirk Cousins rebounded from his horrendous performance against the Green Bay Packers. Kirk Cousins completed 15 passes out of 21 attempts for 174 yards, and a 35 yard touchdown to Adam Thielen. 

       Cousins was able to succeed on play action because of a stellar running attack from the duo Dalvin Cook ( 16 rushes, 110 yards, and 1 touchdown) and rookie Alexander Mattison ( 12 rushes,  58 yards, and 1 touchdown). Dalvin Cook now has 100+ yards in each game this season so far, only former running back, Adrian Peterson, has done that for Minnesota. Dalvin cook leads the NFL in rushing with 375 yards and 4 touchdowns. 

        The difference between Kirk Cousins' performance last week, to this week, is night and day. Kirk was able to make big plays down the field to multiple receivers, including rookie second round pick, Irv Smith JR, who had 3 receptions for 60 yards. Although the focus for the Vikings offense is the rushing attack, Kirk Cousins needs to be able to make the plays he made today, in order to make the Vikings look like a real threat in the league going forward. 

       Mike Hughes played his first game since tearing his ACL at the start of last season. His presence was surely noticed in that very thin secondary.

       The Minnesota defense came to play against the Raiders offense, racking up 4 sacks, 5 TFL, and an interception from veteran safety, Harrison Smith. Derek Carr wasn't able to stay in the pocket for nearly the whole game without getting pressured by the two defensive ends, Everson Griffen, and Danielle Hunter. Josh Jacobs, who is so far having an impressive start to his rookie season, was only able to get 44 rushing yards against the swarming Minnesota front seven. Eric Kendricks was very impressive, getting 7 total tackles, including a big fourth down stuff, which ended up stalling the Raiders' offense for the rest of the game. 

       The Three Key Plays-
  •     Kirk Cousins was able to capitalize on a successful running game to catch the Raiders off guard with a 35 yard play action touchdown pass to Adam Thielen.
  •     Harrison Smith intercepting an awful pass from Derek Carr, to give the offense amazing field position that lead to a 1 yard rushing touchdown by Adam Thielen. 
  •     The Minnesota defense stuffing the Raiders on a 4th down and 1, turning the ball over on downs, and set the vikings up for a 50 yard field goal by Dan Bailey. 

        The Minnesota Vikings seemed to be flawless in all categories during the 34-14 win. Which is exactly the motivation the Vikings needed heading into next week, where they try to defeat their division rivals, the Chicago Bears. The Vikings will be traveling into Chicago to play the Bears on September 29th, 4:25 ET. The last time the Vikings matched up against the Bears was last season, week 17, where the Vikings were defeated, 24-10, which ended the Vikings playoff hopes. 

          What to watch- 
  •     The Vikings offensive success- The Vikings will need to carry their offenses success into next week in order to drive the ball against the Bears fantastic defense, that is lead by Khalil Mack. 
  •      The Vikings Offensive line- The offensive line needs to be able to protect Kirk Cousins for Cousins to continue to have the same success he had against the Raiders.
  •     Kirk Cousins- Last season, Cousins struggled against the Bears defense. In order to defeat the Bears, we will need a good performance from Cousins.
  •      Keeping Trubisky in the pocket- The Vikings will need to keep Trubisky in the pocket, in order to have a better chance of getting the ball back. Trubisky can make plays with his legs which can be dangerous. The Vikings need to suffocate the struggling QB. 
  •      Dalvin Cook- Cook has been phenomenal this season, he will need to keep up his production against one of the best defensive lines in the NFL. Cook is the key player to the Vikings passing success. 
         The Vikings will enter week 4 with a 2-1 record, they will be trying to move up in the division with a divisional win against the Bears.