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Vikings at Raiders Game Observations: Pace's Pick Seals 3-0 Win After Mullens Sparks Offense

LAS VEGAS — Ivan Pace, Jr., was all over the field, making tackle after tackle to start the game.

He also got two hands in on sealing Minnesota's 3-0 win Sunday.

The undrafted rookie picked off Raiders rookie Aidan O'Connell's pass to Davante Adams with a diving catch at the Las Vegas 34-yard line with 1:52 remaining.

The interception — the first of Pace's career — allowed the Vikings to run off 1:45 before a pooch punt by Greg Joseph gave the ball back to Las Vegas with just seven seconds remaining.

Pace finished with a career-best 13 tackles, which included a sack. He also showed athleticism by backflipping in the end zone after nabbing the interception.

The Vikings had Joseph line up with 18 seconds remaining as if to attempt a 46-yard field goal, but he instead punted the football 14 yards. Curtis Bolton returned the ball 17 yards, but it cost precious time before the Raiders took their final snap at their own 31-yard line.

After a completion to Adams, the Raiders tried several laterals before the ball hit the turf and rookie Jay Ward pounced on it.

Joseph had provided the only points moments before by kicking a 36-yard field goal with 1:57.

The boot capped a 13-play, 56-yard drive that lasted 3:22.

Here are four more observations from the game.

  1. Mullens provides spark off bench

The Vikings traded for Nick Mullens in August 2022 after playing against the former Raider to open that preseason slate.

Minnesota turned to Mullens with 9:10 left in the fourth quarter Sunday, and he provided the spark the Vikings needed.

Mullens connected with T.J. Hockenson for 26 yards on his first snap.

He finished 9-for-13 with 83 yards and a passer rating of 86.4 in his first game action since this preseason.

Minnesota turned to Mullens after Joshua Dobbs struggled. Dobbs finished 10-for-23 with 63 yards and a passer rating of 50.8.

Although that drive resulted in a punt, Minnesota was able to flip field position and set itself up for the winning drive.

  1. Jefferson's return cut short amid multiple Vikings injuries

Justin Jefferson made his return to the Vikings lineup Sunday, but the star receiver left Minnesota's game at Las Vegas after making his second catch.

Jefferson secured a high pass over the middle from Joshua Dobbs for a gain of 15, but Raiders safety Marcus Epps, a former Viking, delivered a legal but crushing hit to Jefferson's chest.

Jefferson headed for the sideline and was evaluated before he was transported to a local hospital out of precaution.

His day ended with 9:10 remaining in the second quarter. His two catches for 27 yards on three targets led all Minnesota players in a scoreless first half.

Jefferson entered the game tied with Hall of Famer and Vikings Ring of Honor member Randy Moss for the second-most receiving yards in an NFL player's first four seasons (5,396). With 5,423, he only trails Michael Thomas (5,512) in NFL history.

Additionally, right tackle Brian O'Neill and running back Alexander Mattison each suffered ankle injuries that sidelined them for the rest of the game.

O'Neill was injured on Minnesota's final offensive snap of the first half, and Mattison was injured during a short reception near the sideline on Minnesota's second play of the second half.

In the fourth quarter, receiver Jalen Nailor suffered a concussion on a helmet-to-helmet hit by Amik Robertson that was not flagged.

Guard Dalton Risner left the game briefly in the third quarter but returned to action quickly.

  1. Metellus forces key fumble

The Vikings defense forced a key takeaway with 9:09 remaining in the third quarter.

The Raiders were driving and reached the red zone after a 38-yard completion to Hunter Renfrow.

After a pass to Adams gained 1, the Raiders committed a holding penalty.

O'Connell then completed a pass to Renfrow for a short gain before Josh Metellus knocked the ball loose.

Rookie Mekhi Blackmon recovered it to deny the Raiders a shot at a field goal.

The forced fumble was Minnesota's 19th of the season, which is three more than the next team (Colts).

This was the 11th game this season with at least one fumble forced by the Vikings, which also leads the NFL.

  1. Punt-a-palooza

The teams combined for 17 punts in the lowest-scoring NFL game since 2007.

Minnesota was a combined 8-for-20 on third down, and Las Vegas went 3-for-14.