The Vikings bounced back from a disappointing loss at Green Bay last week by routing the Raiders at U.S. Bank Stadium Sunday.
John Breech of CBS Sports gives out grades weekly to every team for its game-day performance.
In looking at the Week 3 slate of contests, Breech led his article with Minnesota's home defeat of Oakland. He wrote:
So, what has made the Vikings ground game so successful this season? [Vikings Head Coach Mike] Zimmer explained after the game what he's seen from his team, which went into Week 3 as the NFL's third-best rushing team.
"Number one: Our coaches are doing a good job scheming," Zimmer said. "And number two: I think the offensive line is doing a really good job of getting on the right people and creating some space."
Breech broke out and broke down a handful of specific plays by the Vikings, including Adam Thielen's first career rushing touchdown that Breech said "caught the Raiders completely off-guard."
He also delved into run plays by rookie Alexander Mattison, who scored his first NFL touchdown with a flying leap into the end zone, and Dalvin Cook, who again racked up the yards. Through three games, he's totaled 375 yards on the ground.
Cook has been so good this season that he's doing things not many other players in NFL history have ever done. Thanks to his performance against the Raiders, Cook is now just the fifth player in NFL history to rush for 110 or more yards and a touchdown in each of his team's first three games of a season.
The Vikings have now gone over 200 yards rushing a total of five times under Zimmer, and they're 5-0 in those games.
Breech gave the Vikings an A-minus for their performance against the Raiders, whom he graded with a D-minus.
Although Dalvin Cook and the Vikings ground game stole the show, nearly everyone on Minnesota's roster had an impressive game. Defensively, the Vikings harassed Derek Carr, sacking him four times with Eric Wilson coming up with two of those. And let's not forget about Kirk Cousins, who shook off his struggles from last week to throw for 174 yards (15 of 21) and a touchdown.
'Impressive' Vikings have plenty to celebrate in Week 3 win
NFL.com's Grant Gordon evaluated Minnesota's win in the weekly "What We Learned" series that breaks down games across the league. He wrote:
Cutting past would-be tacklers and running through them when needed, [Dalvin] Cook sparkled for Minnesota (2-1) with 16 carries for 110 yards and a 1-yard second-quarter score as he spent much of the final stanza on the sideline in a blowout victory with a smile on and his helmet off. Having already set a career-high with four touchdowns, his 375 yards rushing have eclipsed his rookie tally of 354. That was when the NFL world briefly glimpsed what could be for the running back and for the Vikings with him as their engine. Injuries derailed him in 2017 and 2018, but so far, so healthy for Cook. And so far, so outstanding – just ask the Raiders (1-2).
View frame-by-frames of Vikings RB Alexander Mattison's first career touchdown at U.S. Bank Stadium against the Raiders.
Gordon went on to say that Cousins "put together a fine performance" and pointed out that the quarterback extended an NFL-leading streak of 19 consecutive games with a touchdown pass.
Gordon said that Cousins "captained a squad that looked every bit as brilliant with its overall superiority as it did in Week 1 … and every bit the opposite" of the Vikings who lost to the Packers.
Cousins had 174 yards, just six incompletions, one TD throw and a 112 passer rating. He was good. The Vikings were great. Their running game (which included Alexander Mattison adding 58 yards and a TD in 12 carries) was outstanding. Cousins will be judged by how he performs in big games until he clutches up in one, but for now and yet again, he did his job and did it well, and the Vikings won. [The] Vikings, with Cousins at the helm, are an impressive team.
Craig: Cousins' long throws 'key to Vikings offense'
The Vikings run game ruled the day, but Mark Craig of the Star Tribune pointed out that Cousins' long passes, few as they were, also played a key role in Minnesota's big win. He wrote:
A week earlier, the Raiders gave up 276 yards passing and four touchdowns in a second quarter that saw the Chiefs throw, as Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph put it, "deep ball after deep ball after deep ball." In Sunday's 34-14 win over the Raiders, Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins threw only four balls that traveled 20 yards past the line of scrimmage. But three of them were key plays in the victory. The first went 24 yards on Adam Thielen's 35-yard touchdown that made it a 7-0 game. The next one, a 21-yarder to Thielen, landed out of bounds in the second quarter. The last two came on back-to-back snaps in the third quarter. The first traveled 24 yards and drew defensive pass interference. The next went 22 yards on a 26-yard gain by Irv Smith, Jr. The Vikings scored a touchdown four plays later.
Craig addressed Cousins' passes as the first of five "extra points," an article he puts out the morning after Vikings game days.
Three of Craig's other points revolved around penalties: the number of self-inflicted wounds committed by Oakland, Raiders linebacker Vontaze Burfict not being flagged for taking a swing at Vikings tackle Riley Reiff and Cook's 25-yard run to make good after an illegal blocking penalty was called on Chad Beebe.
Craig also said Minnesota should focus on cleaning up mistakes that occurred on the first play of drives. The Vikings were able to recover and score touchdowns on three of four drives that started with a blunder, but Craig pointed out that there could be less wiggle room against teams moving forward.