OAKLAND, Calif. – Derek Carr put up the bigger numbers. Teddy Bridgewater walked away with the win.
In a battle between the two most accomplished quarterbacks from the 2014 draft class, Bridgewater threw for only 140 yards. But thanks to another big play on special teams, a second-half shutout from the defense and a game-sealing touchdown run from Adrian Peterson, the Vikings beat the Oakland Raiders 30-14 on Sunday at O.co Coliseum.
“Everybody had their piece of the pie today,” cornerback Captain Munnerlyn said.
The victory was a microcosm of the five-game winning streak, that one that moved the Vikings into sole possession of first place in the NFC North heading into next Sunday’s showdown at TCF Bank Stadium against the Green Bay Packers, losers of three straight.
Bridgewater, who bounced back from last week’s concussion to start, averaged only 6.4 yards per throw against the league’s worst-ranked pass defense. But with the Raiders surprisingly blanketing the Vikings receivers down the field, Bridgewater often had no good options as he scanned for open targets.
Bridgewater, for the most part, did a good job of avoiding trouble. He took four sacks and was hit three other times. But he didn’t turn the ball over and would have had two touchdown passes if tight end Kyle Rudolph hadn’t dropped a soft toss in the end zone.
Carr, meanwhile, completed 29 of 43 attempts for 302 yards, a sizable chunk of them coming in the fourth quarter as the Raiders tried to rally back. He threw two touchdown passes in the second quarter. But he also gave away two interceptions, including one in the end zone with the Raiders trailing late 23-14.
“We knew [Carr] had a live arm and could make every throw,” Munnerlyn said. “I feel like he is one of the up-and-coming quarterbacks in the league.”
On the first play after that interception, cornerback Terence Newman’s second of the day, Peterson bounced around the right end, then bolted down the field for an 80-yard touchdown to put the game away with 1 minute, 50 seconds remaining on the clock.
“It was daylight,” said Peterson, who ran for 203 yards on 26 carries. “The guys up front did a great job of blocking and opening it up for me. … And there was nothing but green after that.”
Despite the modest passing numbers from Bridgewater, the Vikings are one of the most complete teams in the NFL. They now rank first in scoring defense. They are one of the league’s most dangerous teams on special teams. And with a season high in rushing yards, Peterson gave himself a comfortable cushion in the race for the rushing title.
“I think that’s how our team is built,” coach Mike Zimmer said. “We’ve played great on special teams all year long. We’ve played good on defense for the most part. Offensively, we’ve had our spurts, but I expect them to continue to get better.”
The Vikings raced out to a 13-0 lead with scores on three of their first four possessions. But Carr would connect on a pair of big plays to help the Raiders grab the lead.
Raiders rookie wide receiver Amari Cooper made a leaping grab over safety Andrew Sendejo for a 38-yard reception that preceded Carr’s second touchdown pass, a 34-yarder to Andre Holmes.
But the Vikings quickly reclaimed the lead, 20-14, when wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, after dropping the kickoff, ran untouched down the left sideline for a 93-yard return for a touchdown 1:39 before halftime.
“CP made a big play, boosted our team right back up,” wide receiver Mike Wallace said. “I’m not saying we were down, but at that time we needed a play and he came through.”
In the third quarter, after Zimmer made some halftime adjustments, the Vikings put the clamps on Carr and the Raiders. Blitzing less and keeping their two safeties deep to prevent big plays, the Vikings shut out the high-scoring Raiders the rest of the way.
“That was a focus of ours all week, to eliminate the big play,” outside linebacker Anthony Barr said. “They got a couple on us in the first half, but we were able to eliminate them for the most part in the second half.”
And while Carr had the kind of individual numbers that make fantasy football players happy, Bridgewater was content with playing a complementary role in a win.
“Any time we win, it’s fine,” Bridgewater said. “I’d rather not be in a shootout. That means we’re doing something wrong. Any time we win, that’s when it’s fun.”