The Vikings had an opportunity to send their first preseason game to overtime, but head coach Brad Childress and fullback Tony Richardson explained why the win wasn't that important to the team. Plus, get more than 35 other notes and statistical analyzes from the Vikings' 16-13 loss to Oakland.
It's rare when the media gives an ovation to a coach, especially when it comes to the Minnesota media and its football coaches. From Dennis Green
to Mike Tice, it's been common to take shots at the man in charge. While the fans may have been dismayed to see the Vikings eschew what would have been a 40-yard field goal to potentially tie the game at the end of regulation and send it to overtime, coach Brad Childress opted to go for a pass on the game's final play. It was either going to be a win or a loss. Period.
"We had 58 (offensive) plays prior to the 2-minute warning," Childress said. "I had seen enough."
While some of the fans, especially those who had a vested interest in the Vikings being a three-point favorite, may not have liked it, the players who had to prepare to head back to Mankato for the final days of preseason practice weren't upset about it.
"The truth is that the timing and repetitions we get during training camp and the games is important, but there isn't a lot to be gained whether you go 4-0 or 0-4 in the preseason," fullback Tony Richardson
said. "We got a lot of work in for the guys and I know there were a lot of people that were happy to get the game over with."
Neither team managed 300 total yards of offense despite getting some big yardage in chunks – the Raiders with a 67-yard touchdown pass and the Vikings with big gains late in both halves. Oakland won the total yardage battle 274-270, with neither team topping 100 yards rushing (the Raiders gaining 99 yards on 29 carries and the Vikings gaining 82 yards on 26 rushes). The passing yardage was nearly identical as well (201 for the Vikings and 200 for Oakland), but the Vikings had five sacks that cost the Raiders 29 yards, while Oakland got to the Vikings QBs just once for a 9-yard loss. In the end, the time of possession was almost as identical as the total yardage numbers – Oakland held the ball 29:40, just 40 second less than the Vikings' 30:20 of possession time.
Neither team could be very happy with the kickoff coverage, as both teams averaged more than 30 yards per return. The Raiders returned three kickoffs for 107 yards and the Vikings returned five kicks for 159 yards. In the process, Kevin Kasper may have jumped to the top of the Vikings' return list, bringing back four kicks for an average of 35.5 yards per return.
Childress wasn't pleased with the mistakes the team made in penalties in the second half. After having just one penalty in the first half – that coming on special teams – the Vikings had five penalties in the second half – four of which were critical to beating the team. Two of the penalties were holding calls on second-and-4 plays that killed a pair of drives, one was a special teams penalty that allowed Oakland to start at the Vikings 41-yard line on a drive that culminated in the eventual game-winning points and the other was an intentional grounding penalty on J.T. O'Sullivan that killed the Vikings' final drive of the game.
The Vikings defense, despite undergoing many personnel changes, did not commit a single penalty in the game. Of the team's six penalties, four were on offense and two were on special teams.
Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson led all rushers with 36 yards and RaShard Lee, who briefly spent time with the Vikings in the 2005 preseason, led the Raiders with 34 yards rushing.
Johnnie Morant led all players with 108 receiving yards. He and the Vikings Josh Davis (64 yards) were the only players with more than 30 yards receiving.
In six of Oakland's 12 drives, they failed to pick up a first down. The Vikings failed to get at least one first down on just two of 13 drives.
Heath Farwell may have cemented a spot on the roster with nine tackles. He garnered more playing time with a left knee injury that took Chad Greenway out of the game before the second-team defense took the field. Rookie safety Greg Blue (six tackles) was the only other Viking with more than three tackles on the night.
Some fans were surprised the Vikings attempted a 55-yard Ryan Longwell field goal in the fourth quarter. Had he made it, it would have been a career long.
Rookie linebacker Darnell Bing appeared to throw a cheap shot at Jackson in the third quarter on a play where Jackson's head bounced off the turf. But, according to Jackson at the game, he remembers hitting his head on the ground, but doesn't remember being impacted too hard by the forearm shot. He left the game for six plays before returning near the goal line. He threw two incompletions and the Vikings settled for a field goal to tie the game.
During that same drive, O'Sullivan got his bell rung and Mike McMahon hastily prepared to enter the game before being waived off by O'Sullivan and the coaching staff.
One of the big complaints concerning former head coach Mike Tice was his misuse of the challenge flag. Thus far, Childress is one-for-one. After a scrum on a Mewelde Moore run that appeared to be strung out and over, a fumble was called. Childress challenged and won – giving the ball back to the Vikings. Although the play was supposed to set up a second-and-14 situation, the chain gang set up like it was second-and-9. The point became moot when Jackson rushed for 17 yards and a first down, but it could have made for an interesting conundrum if the Vikings had to face a third-down situation without the spot being corrected.
The Vikings dominated the time of possession in the first half, holding the ball for 17:35 to 12:25 for the Raiders. Thanks to a 67-yard touchdown pass, the Raiders held a total yardage edge of 144-138, including 108-80 passing. The Vikings held the edge in rushing, running the ball 19 times for 58 yards, as opposed to 11 carries for 38 yards.
Individually, Andrew Walter had a passer rating of 108.3 in the first half, completing six of 12 passes for 106 yards and one TD. That would drop markedly in the second half (to 56.4 at game's end) when he threw interceptions on consecutive drives. Jackson led the Vikings in both passing and rushing, completing four of seven passes for 39 yards and rushing twice for 19 yards.
In a battle of two of the league's best punters, Oakland's Shane Lechler had the upper hand, averaging 54.5 yards a punt while Chris Kluwe averaged 50.4 yards on five punts.
Jackson got his first chance to shine for the Vikings in a flawless two-minute drill. Starting at his own 32-yard line with just 31 seconds left in the half, Jackson completed three of four passes (the only incompletion being a spike to stop the clock) and scrambled once for 10 yards to get the Vikings to the Oakland 23 with 3 seconds to play. Longwell made good on the field position by hitting a 41-yard field goal as time expired to cut the Raiders lead to 13-10 at halftime.
The Vikings didn't have a penalty until 5:11 remained in the first half – a holding penalty by Dontarrious Thomas on a kickoff return. By the time it happened, Oakland had already committed six penalties. It would be the only Vikings penalty of the half. The Raiders, on the other hand, committed seven penalties and had three more declined.
McMahon finished his night completing just one of four passes for 9 yards.
The Vikings missed out on a chance for a 64-yard touchdown in the second quarter that could have opened up the game. McMahon threw a bomb for Marcus Robinson with Tyrone Poole in coverage. Both players went up for the ball and Robinson kept his balance, while Poole went down. Robinson looked to have an easy touchdown, but juggled the ball and dropped it. On the next drive, the Raiders made good on a bomb of their own, as Morant split cornerback Ronyell Whitaker and safety Greg Blue for a 67-yard touchdown to give the Raiders a 13-7 lead.
Three of the Raiders' first four offensive drives ended with three-and out.
Aaron Brooks didn't complete his first pass until 14 minutes remained in the second quarter – a 16-yard completion to Randy Moss -- after throwing five incompletions to start the game. Of those six passes thrown, three of them were directed at Moss and two of them were throwaways after being pressured by the Vikings' defensive front. Brooks finished the game 1-for-6 passing with 16 yards gained. But taking into consideration two sacks by the Vikings, Brooks accounted for just 2 yards in the passing game in three drives.
The Vikings dominated the first quarter stats, despite holding just a 7-6 lead. The Vikings held a 57-15 advantage in total yards. In the rushing game, the Vikings ran 11 times for 25 yards, while the Raiders had 22 yards on five carries. In the passing game, the Vikings had an edge of 32 yards to minus-7 for Oakland. Aaron Brooks didn't complete a pass, but was sacked for a 7-yard loss by Erasmus James. Brad Johnson finished his one quarter of duty completing five of six passes for 32 yards. Chester Taylor's first game ended with nine carries for 18 yards. The leading receiver for the Vikings among the first teamers was Koren Robinson, who caught two passes for 19 yards. The Vikings were 2-of-4 on third down conversions, while the Raiders were 0-for-2.
Chad Greenway left the game in the first quarter with a knee injury, sustained on a 60-yard kickoff return by the Raiders' Chris Carr. He didn't return to the game and is scheduled to have a MRI Tuesday to see if there is any serious damage to his knee.
The Raiders scored their first six points without the benefit of a first down, as Sebastian Janikowski hit field goals of 27 and 55 yards – the second of which tied for the longest of his career.
The Vikings' first scoring drive of the game promises to be a portent of things to come. The team had an eight-play drive that covered 56 yards – no play that went for more than 8 yards. The drive was aided by three Raiders penalties – a pair of encroachment penalties and a 19-yard pass interference penalty on Oakland's Nnamdi Asomugha that put the ball on the 3-yard line. Tony Richardson got his first rush of the night to end the drive on a play in which he and Chester Taylor were lined up as split backs 4 yards behind the line of scrimmage.
The game got off to an inauspicious start for the Vikings. Troy Williamson took the opening kickoff and fumbled. While the Raiders recovered, the Vikings defense made a stand and the Raiders had to settle for a 27-yard field goal. On the next kickoff, Kasper replaced Williamson and remained the kickoff returner for the rest of the game.
The Vikings' captains for 2006 at the coin toss were Brad Johnson representing the offense, Darren Sharper representing the defense and Ryan Longwell representing the special teams.
The Raiders' offensive starters were introduced prior to the game, starting with Moss, who received a loud ovation from the Vikings fans without a hint of boos from the fans Moss electrified in his seven years with the Vikings. The players were announced and a second ovation came from the fans when Moss emerged from the tunnel for his first appearance to the fans.
The Vikings were the last team to open the preseason schedule when they kicked off their game Monday night.
The Metrodome crew was working overtime before and after the Vikings' game. The Minnesota Twins finished their game at about 3 p.m. local time Sunday afternoon and the field had to be transformed from the baseball to football configuration. Within an hour of the conclusion of the Vikings game, the crew began the process of returning the field to use for baseball and a Twins game scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Monday's game also marked the first broadcast of Monday Night Football on ESPN, which secured the broadcast rights during the last television contract with the NFL.
Monday's meeting was the first chance for linebacker Napoleon Harris to face his former Raiders teammates. It also was the first chance for Raiders defensive end Lance Johnstone to play his former Vikings teammates. Johnstone had two tackles while Harris had one.
The game was a family reunion for Vikings running back Adimchinobe Echemandu, who is first cousins with Oakland cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha.
The Vikings had only one player on "did not dress" list – cornerback Charles Gordon. The Raiders had five players on the same list – linebackers Ricky Brown and Robert Thomas, cornerback Raymond Washington, wide receiver Carlos Francis and tight end James Adkisson.
The Vikings' logo at midfield, which for the past several years has been represented by the classic Norseman head in profile, was replaced with a "MV" printed logo.
One ingenious fan decided to make the most of a Daunte Culpepper jersey that many Vikings fans have rendered to the rag basket. Despite not sharing the same number, the fan altered her Culpepper jersey to have "T. Jackson" on the back name plate – in honor of Tarvaris Jackson.
The paid attendance at the game was 63,278 – the 85th straight sellout, which dates back to 1998.