PASSING OFFENSE: D - Sunday was another unavoidable growing pain for rookie quarterback Christian Ponder. He's playing behind a below-average line and an overall receiving corps that might be the worst in the league. Facing heavy blitzing throughout the game, Ponder hit a couple of big plays and hurt the Raiders with 71 yards on five scrambles. But he also forced three balls that were intercepted. Two of them came in the red zone. Two of them led to 10 points for the Raiders. Ponder will need to make some big plays in the passing game to get teams to stop blitzing him so much. A screen pass to Percy Harvin that went for a 26-yard touchdown, and a 37-yard pass down the right seam were two examples of what Ponder needs to do in addition to not forcing balls that would have been completed in college but have no prayer at the NFL level.
RUSHING OFFENSE: C - The Vikings did OK with 124 yards on 24 carries (5.2), especially considering Adrian Peterson missed the last three quarters with a high left ankle sprain. Peterson left with 26 yards on six carries, including a 12-yard touchdown, his 11th rushing TD of the season. Ponder's 71 yards on five carries (14.2) came with a long of 28 yards. He's dangerous and a lot faster than he looks once he tucks and runs. Backup running back Toby Gerhart wasn't much of a factor because shortly after he came in, the Vikings' special teams fell apart as the Raiders posted a 21-0 scoring advantage in the second quarter. Gerhart had 18 yards on a season-high seven carries. With only 24 carries on the season, he'll be well rested when he's expected to start on Sunday at Atlanta. Harvin had five carries for 21 yards.
PASS DEFENSE: C-plus - Considering how depleted the secondary was, the Vikings did very well against a Raiders' downfield passing attack that was coming off a record performance in a win over San Diego. Quarterback Carson Palmer had averaged a team-record 14.95 yards per attempt against the Chargers, breaking Daryle Lamonica's mark of 14.33 set in 1968. Against a Vikings secondary that was missing free safety Husain Abdullah, cornerback Antoine Winfield (injured reserve) and cornerback Chris Cook (legal problems), Palmer threw for only 164 yards and averaged only 7.1 yards per attempt. Benny Sapp played the entire game at nickel back just five days after being signed. He hadn't played since the Dolphins released him at the start of Week 2.
RUSH DEFENSE: C - The Vikings have a mere shell of the dominant run defense they've had in recent years. The Raiders ran for 162 yards on 41 carries (4.0). Michael Bush became the first back to run for 100 yards against the team this year, but it took him 30 carries to get 109 yards (3.6) and a touchdown. On his 2-yard touchdown run, he plowed over safety Tyrell Johnson, who started in place of Husain Abdullah. Johnson was blasted onto his back a couple of yards deep in the end zone.
SPECIAL TEAMS: F - Special teams breakdowns near the end of the second quarter lost the game. Simple as that. Holder Chris Kluwe bobbled a good snap on a 49-yard field-goal attempt and was tackled for a 12-yard loss. What could have been a tying field goal was turned into a 10-point deficit when the Raiders turned the miscue into a touchdown. Lorenzo Booker fumbled the ball away on the ensuing kickoff. The Raiders turned it into a 16-yard touchdown drive and a 24-7 lead. The coverage teams had their second consecutive poor game, giving up an average of 17 yards on two punt returns and an average of 31 yards on four kickoff returns.
COACHING: D - The team is 10 games into the season and can't shake the sloppiness that it talks about correcting week after week. One knew it was going to be another struggle when left tackle Charlie Johnson false-started on the first snap of the game. The Vikings were at home and the crowd was even more silent than it typically is for the offense at home. There were two other false starts, an illegal motion that negated a 15-yard pass on third-and-13 and Chris Kluwe's botched hold on a field-goal attempt. The Vikings had nine penalties total and stayed in the game only because the Raiders had 12 penalties, including three personal fouls during the Vikings' first touchdown drive. During a three-play stretch on a Raiders' touchdown drive, the Vikings had defensive tackle Letroy Guion jump offside and cornerback Cedric Griffin line up offside. This is just an undisciplined, sloppy team.
Grading the game: Raiders
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