MINNEAPOLIS — There was no fire blasting from the dragon on the ship that Vikings players run through when they take the field, but there was more than enough firepower on Sunday in a 34-14 win against the Raiders.
A leaguewide ban regarding the use of on-field pyrotechnics resulted in limited activity for the dragon that helps rev the atmosphere at U.S. Bank Stadium.
It did snarl a little smoke before Everson Griffen led defensive players and offensive reserves onto the turf.
Offensive starters were announced one-by-one and then functioned well as a unit on the opening drive.
The Vikings recorded the 500th victory (regular season and postseason) in franchise history and were involved in their third consecutive game involving a 21-point lead. Surprise, they're 2-0 when building such a lead in home games and 0-1 when falling behind by 21 on the road this season.
Pre-game question: Could the Vikings bounce back from an emotional loss last week at Green Bay and not let the outcome turn into another loss against an underdog foe like it did a year ago (tie at Green Bay in Week 2, home loss to Buffalo in Week 3)?
The Vikings had to overcome some small obstacles along the way, but mistakes that were made were generally erased.
Sometimes, it was a penalty against the Raiders, like the hold that turned an incompletion on a third-and-9 into a new set of downs on the opening series.
The Vikings scored four plays after the mulligan when Kirk Cousins bootlegged to his left, had time to let the play develop, set and fire to Adam Thielen, who created separation against 1-on-1 coverage by safety Curtis Riley as he moved from the left to right.
Other times, it was a remarkable effort to overcome a disadvantageous down and distance, like when Dalvin Cook took a short pass and willed himself against gravity to gain the final few yards on a third-and-18. A roughing the passer penalty on the play added another 15 yards.
There also was the clever sweep to Thielen for a 1-yard rushing touchdown, but perhaps most importantly, a week after inflicting heaps of self-harm in the form of penalties, turnovers and some errant passes and drops, the Vikings generally played cleanly.
A couple of holding calls negated big gains, but Minnesota outrushed Oakland 211 to 88, averaging 5.6 yards per carry.
Kirk Cousins completed 15 of 21 passes for 174 yards with a touchdown and helped the Vikings score on six of 10 possessions. His passer rating was 112.0 as he spread the ball around to six different teammates that caught at least one pass.
The Vikings didn't commit a turnover and scored a touchdown after forcing one by the Raiders.
"I think this team has got a lot of heart. They were pretty focused all week and pretty focused in meetings last night. They seemed really focused in the locker room today, and we came out there and played with a lot of effort. You know, you do that, you make plays, and good things usually happen when you play with great effort."
— Head Coach Mike Zimmer
"I think a fast start is crucial. I think a strong finish is even more important, but a fast start will always be something we try to emphasize, and our coaches work hard on planning out the first 15 plays of the game, the first third downs we want to get to when we get in those situations, and we as players study those plays and study the looks we're going to get and take pride in coming out of the gates quickly. For us to be a good football team, hopefully that's part of our identity week-in and week-out, that we can come out right away and put pressure on our opponent."
— Quarterback Kirk Cousins
"[Last week] wasn't the first time I had laid an egg professionally or even before playing professionally, and you learn what it means to come back and play. But more importantly than anything was when your teammates play at such a high level, it gives you a chance to bounce back, and that was what really separates you."
"We are always going to rally around [Cousins] and do everything we can, so he doesn't have to put all the pressure on himself. If we can take the pressure off of him he just lets his natural ability take over. That's what we saw all spring and summer, was him back there comfortable, and he's got an unbelievable amount of ability. When we can take that unwanted pressure off of him and let him just play, he's phenomenal."
— Tight end Kyle Rudolph
"It is a good bounce back, but it's still week-to-week. We don't care about what happened last week, we don't really care about this game anymore. We're on to Chicago, and we know we will have a tough test there. They have kind of had our number as far as their defense against our offense, so we've got a lot of work to do."
— Receiver Adam Thielen