The Vikings recorded the 16th shutout in their 63 NFL seasons and prevailed 3-0 over the Raiders in the lowest-scoring indoor game in team history Sunday at Las Vegas.
Undrafted rookie Ivan Pace, Jr., tied a franchise record for tackles by a rookie in a game with 13. His day included a sack to end the first half and an interception on the snap that followed Greg Joseph's 36-yard field goal with less than two minutes remaining in the game.
Nick Mullens provided a spark off the bench for an offense dealing with multiple injuries in his first action of 2023. Mullens connected with T.J. Hockenson four times for 45 yards as the tight end broke Kyle Rudolph's Vikings record for catches by a tight end in a season.
Minnesota improved to 7-6 on its way into a Week 15 matchup with the Bengals (7-6) at Cincinnati.
Kickoff is scheduled for noon (CT) Saturday.
Next Gen Stats
Ground and pound
The Vikings ran the ball well and stopped the run Sunday.
Alexander Mattison rushed 10 times for 66 yards, averaging 6.6 per carry and gaining 52 of his yards on runs between the tackles.
According to Next Gen Stats, Mattison totaled 23 yards above expectations, which was the third-highest in Week 14 (excluding Monday's games)
Raiders running back Josh Jacobs was limited to 34 yards on 13 carries, an average of 2.6. His longest gain went for 6. NGS calculated that his total was 14 yards below expectations.
Three offensive linemen who started — left tackle Christian Darrisaw, center Garrett Bradbury and right guard Blake Brandel (filling in for Ed Ingram) — played the whole game.
Left guard Dalton Risner missed two snaps that were covered by Austin Schlottmann.
Rookie receiver Jordan Addison (69) and tight end T.J. Hockenson (67) led Minnesota's skill players. K.J. Osborn was next with 51.
Joshua Dobbs started and played 53 snaps before Mullens took the final 19.
David Quessenberry played 42 snaps at right tackle in relief of Brian O'Neill (30).
Justin Jefferson made his return to the lineup, but his day was limited to 13 snaps before suffering a chest injury.
Mattison started and played 23 snaps at running back before suffering an ankle injury. Second-year pro Ty Chandler played 40 snaps.
Pace was one of six players in for all 54 defensive snaps. Safeties Josh Metellus, Camryn Bynum and Harrison Smith, and cornerbacks Akayleb Evans and Byron Murphy, Jr., were the others.
Outside linebackers D.J. Wonnum (51) and Danielle Hunter (49) each played more than 91 percent of Minnesota's defensive snaps.
Harrison Phillips (36) again led all Vikings defensive linemen. He was followed by Jonathan Bullard (35) and Sheldon Day (27).
From the Inbox
Following the Vikings for 50 years from Sydney, Australia. I admit some of the nuances still escape me, but I have to applaud Coach O'Connell for the culture he's instilled into the team. A coach myself, I appreciate how hard it is to develop resilience in the face of adversity, but this team epitomizes it. The way that players step up to fill voids, often playing above what they've shown previously, tells you that this is a coach they want to play for. Kudos, Coach O'Connell.
— Stephen Badger
Thanks for the longtime and far-flung support for the team.
O'Connell set a record for the fastest Vikings coach to secure 20 regular-season victories on Sunday, doing so in his 30th game (Dennis Green had the previous record at 32).
The determination is there, and so has been the willingness to try to solve complex problems, including many he's encountered for the first time as a head coach.
I think if I had told anyone looking at a 1-4 start that the Vikings would not have Jefferson for seven-and-a-half games, would lose Cousins for the season in Week 8, play four different quarterbacks and would lose starting inside linebacker Jordan Hicks for multiple weeks, but be 7-6 entering Week 15 would have laughed me off the planet.
There's nothing wrong with a two-quarterback system. If you remember [Roger] Staubach/[Craig] Morton and [Greg] Landry/[Bill] Munson were both pretty successful. I'd like to see Dobbs/Mullens work as a tandem.
— Andy in Toronto
There's an adage that if you have two quarterbacks, you don't have one starter.
O'Connell has talked about the rhythm and timing of the offense being so important to the overall success of the scheme. Mullens' added familiarity with it seemed to help him spark Sunday's rally. Because of an emphasis on rhythm and timing, it might not be best to alternate quarterbacks during a game.
O'Connell said coaches are evaluating the position again this week.
I would like to ask a simple question. Isn't about time for the team to take a swing on a first-round quarterback?
— Davon Collins
I know a couple of colleagues across the league who are shifting their mindset and time toward draft preparations.
The Vikings aren't there yet, so I'm not going to wade too deeply into that. There are multiple questions the team will need to answer this offseason at the sport's most important position.
Some could say the Vikings already should have done so in order to further groom a prospect behind Cousins. Others could point to more glaring needs, given the fact that Cousins had never been sidelined by an injury prior to this season.
With his contract set to expire, the Vikings will have plenty of dialogue with the veteran as they figure out their plans across the roster for free agency and the draft.
While the question itself is very simple, the answer is multi-layered and complex. We'll have plenty of time to cover the offseason ahead of the draft.
[Dobbs] is not flourishing like he did in the first two weeks because he was free to improvise. Now that he is generic and confined to the playbook, the success is wavering. Not to mention injuries on the line, no less. I am a Cincinnatian and would love to see us crack those kitty kats at home. Trying to get tickets to go but probably not able. SKOL!!!
Question: Dobbs came in dominating. But the past two games he hasn't had a chance to really shine. Do you feel as if other teams have a read on him now? And if so, what do you feel he or the team needs to do to protect him to give him more time to adjust?
— Rob Mullinax
I'm combining these thoughts from Michael and Rob because there's so much overlap.
The element of surprise that helped Dobbs so much against the Falcons helped fuel a great start to the Saints game. Teams, I think, are trying to contain him in the pocket to hamper his mobility.
I'm sure a great deal of Sunday's game plan involved getting the ball to Jefferson. It happened for two catches on three targets before Jefferson's injury. Thus, the Vikings had to pivot again while dealing with multiple injuries up front and a problem creator like Maxx Crosby.
According to NGS, Crosby generated two sacks and a season-high eight pressures on 45 pass rushes in the game.
Most important, given the way the defense has been playing, the Vikings did not turn the ball over. They need to continue protecting the pigskin this week and beyond.
Dobbs' average time to throw was 3.19 seconds, and he's averaged more than 3 seconds in all five games with the Vikings, compared to just two of eight games this season with the Cardinals.
Why pull Dobbs when multiple receivers/tight ends could not catch the ball? How many catchable passes were dropped? Mullens just got lucky that they could catch the ball. Dobbs at least can run!
— Michele Vandal
Glad to see O'Connell finally sit Dobbs. The energy inserted with the QB change is what we've needed. Any chance of seeing rookie Jaren Hall again this year? He was playing well the one drive he had before the concussion.
— Bear Hackett
I appreciate being able to have the difference of opinions grouped here.
Dobbs' completion percentage of 43.5 percent was a career-low, coincidentally replacing a previous of 44.4 percent with the Steelers in 2018 against the Raiders when they were still in Oakland.
That percentage in Las Vegas was minus-16.1 percent below expected and definitely suffered from multiple drops.
Mullens' completion percentage of 69.2 percent and his 83 passing yards were boosted when Hockenson pulled in a deflected pass for a gain of 26 on Mullens' first snap.
Hall was inactive but dressed as the emergency QB on Sunday, meaning he could only play against the Raiders if Dobbs and Mullens left the game because of injuries. Both were able to stay healthy. It remains to be seen whether the Vikings make any changes to who starts or who would be listed as the emergency QB. I promise we'll keep you posted once O'Connell and the staff conclude this week's evaluation.
Former Vikings season ticket holder living in Las Vegas for the past seven years, so I finally got to see my team in person again. Here are my thoughts.
- Bottom line, we got a win. That's all that matters in the end.
- Got to see some history for ineptitude
- It felt like a Vikings home game, because we clearly outnumbered Raiders fans.
- I got to enjoy in person how miserably bad the Raiders really are.
- I didn't have to watch Kirk Cousins.
- I gained even more appreciation for the stadium in Minneapolis because it's light years better for the fan experience than the $2 billion Allegiant Stadium.
- I saw a team never quit even though half the team was in the medical tent.
- I saw up close why Josh Dobbs has been a journeyman. His decisions/throws were consistently a little too late.
— Greg Robertson in Las Vegas
Glad that you were able to be part of the Purple wave that made Allegiant Stadium look like U.S. Bank Stadium Southwest on Sunday. It was a tremendous showing of Vikings fans. I'm never surprised by the turnout, but I do continue to be amazed at the way this fan base travels to road games.
I love that Allegiant Stadium's press box is open to the stadium (like U.S. Bank Stadium) instead of being glassed in. Feeling the game does more than just seeing it. It was quite a weird day with momentum seeming so fleeting for either team. I feel like the crowd was just waiting to erupt.
Your seventh observation will be among my biggest takeaways from the game.