PASSING OFFENSE: C-plus — Tarvaris Jackson completed 17 of 22 passes for 171 yards with an interception and no touchdowns in his return as the Vikings quarterback. But Jackson certainly was not his team's passing star. That designation went to rookie wide receiver Sidney Rice, who had two completions for 94 yards and helped the Vikings finish with 265 yards through the air. On the first play from scrimmage, Rice hit tight end Visanthe Shiancoe on a 79-yard pass on a reverse that saw Chester Taylor take a handoff on what appeared to be an end around. Rice threw the pass from his own 10-yard line and hit Shiancoe, who had gotten behind the Raiders safeties and took the ball to the Raiders 5-yard line. That set up a Taylor touchdown run. Rice later connected with Troy Williamson on a 15-yard pass to set up another touchdown run by Taylor. Shiancoe, signed as a free agent from the New York Giants in the offseason, had only two receptions, but they went for 94 yards, a season high for a Vikings pass catcher.
RUSHING OFFENSE: B-plus — No Adrian Peterson? No problem. Chester Taylor, demoted behind the rookie sensation in Week 8, carried 22 times for a season-high 164 yards with a career-high three touchdowns. It was Taylor's first 100-yard effort of the season. Much of the credit has to go to an offensive line that has helped Peterson have single-game efforts of 224 yards (against Chicago) and 296 yards (an NFL record, against San Diego) this season. The Vikings have very good running backs but the line also has done an excellent job of opening holes for Taylor and Peterson. Taylor's total Sunday was only five yards off the career high he set in a victory at Seattle in October 2006.
PASS DEFENSE: C-minus — The Vikings gave up more than 300 yards through the air for the sixth time this season, despite playing against a passing offense that was ranked 30th in the NFL entering the game. Minnesota considers an explosive pass play to be one that goes for 16 yards or more and against Oakland, they gave up seven such plays on Daunte Culpepper's 23 completions. Culpepper finished with 344 yards passing. Minnesota entered the game with the NFL's worst-ranked pass defense and this showing certainly isn't going to help them climb out of the basement. It also doesn't help matters that veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield continues to be hampered by a hamstring injury. Winfield did not play the second half against the Raiders after aggravating the injury. He had missed the previous two games before that. Without Winfield, the Vikings are left with second-year player Cedric Griffin and rookie Marcus McCauley as the corners. Griffin has been struggling of late and teams are going at him more and more.
RUSH DEFENSE: B — Members of the Vikings defense were livid when they gave up 119 yards rushing to Ryan Grant in an embarrassing 34-0 loss to Green Bay on Nov. 11. That marked the first time an individual had gone for more than 100 yards this season against the Vikings and only the second time a team had done it. Pro Bowl nose tackle Pat Williams swore that it would not happen again. He was right for one game at least. The Raiders entered with the NFL's fifth-ranked rushing offense but gained only 61 yards on 27 carries for an average of 2.3 yards. Justin Fargas had 22 of those attempts and gained only 60 yards. Williams finished with a team-high nine tackles as the Vikings got back to playing disciplined in their gaps.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C — Ryan Longwell made both of his field-goal attempts and this facet of the game was solid but not spectacular. Receiver Troy Williamson returned three kicks for 65 yards but cornerback Charles Gordon also got a chance and took his return 27 yards. Williamson clearly does not have much feel for kick returns and the Vikings likely should look elsewhere. Rookie receiver Aundrae Allison has been impressive (32.6-yard average) when given a chance. Longwell was a bit erratic on his kickoffs, putting the ball on the goal line twice but also leaving kicks at the Raiders' 9- and 10-yard lines. Punter Chris Kluwe averaged 36 yards gross and 33.5 net on four punts.
COACHING: B — You have to give credit to coach Brad Childress and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell for having Rice throw a deep pass to Shiancoe on the first play from scrimmage. The coaches had decided they were going to go with that play during the week and they should be commended for sticking to their guns and getting the team off to a fast start. The Vikings are an interesting team because they certainly could have folded on Childress after the Green Bay loss. While Oakland is not a good team, the Vikings rebounded and appeared to be far more interested in the game than they had been the previous week. The key now is to maintain that intensity.
Grading the Game: Raiders
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