OAKLAND, Calif. — Two months after leaving the Bay Area stung by a lopsided season-opening loss, the Minnesota Vikings head home from their second trip to the West Coast in a much happier spot.
Adrian Peterson ran for 203 yards and a touchdown in his record-tying sixth career 200-yard game, Cordarrelle Patterson returned a kick 93 yards for a score and the Vikings beat the Oakland Raiders 30-14 on Sunday to take over sole possession of first place in the NFC North.
"Everything hasn’t been smooth sailing but this group, we continue to fight," Peterson said. "It’s not one game we’ve been in where I see guys hanging their heads or you feel the vibe that guys have quit. With that, anything is possible so now here we are and we’re in a pretty good position."
Teddy Bridgewater threw a touchdown pass, and the Vikings (7-2) held the Raiders’ potent offense in check. Minnesota has won five straight games heading into next week’s division showdown at home with Green Bay (6-3).
Few outside the Vikings saw that coming following a 20-3 season-opening loss in San Francisco. But with Peterson regaining his form after sitting out almost all of last year, a stout defense and big plays on special teams, Minnesota is in prime position.
"It doesn’t matter where we are right now," Bridgewater said. "The only thing that matters is where we finish the season at. So, we can’t just be satisfied with being where we are today. We have to continue to work hard, continue to just ride the wave that we have now."
Derek Carr threw two touchdown passes for Oakland, but also was intercepted twice. The Raiders (4-5) lost their second straight game to fall further behind in the AFC playoff race.
"We lost a game. We’re not about to go crazy," left tackle Donald Penn said. "There’s no panic at all, none of that at all. We’re positive and upbeat. We’re a little sad because we know we left a lot out on the field today."
Minnesota squandered chances to build a two-score lead when Blair Walsh missed a 53-yard field goal at the end of the first half to snap a streak of 17 straight makes and then had a 39-yarder blocked by Keith McGill early in the fourth to keep the score at 20-14.
But after the Raiders went three-and-out following the second miss, Bridgewater hit Stefon Diggs on a 37-yard pass that helped set up a 34-yarder for Walsh that made it 23-14 with 3:50 to play.
Minnesota sealed the win when Terence Newman intercepted Carr in the end zone with 2:03 left for his second pick of the game. Peterson scored on an 80-yard run on the next play for the exclamation point.
"I was wired up," Peterson said. "Even after that play, I could have gone longer. That’s a good thing. It makes me feel good to know in a tough-fought game, even after making the big play I still was ready and wired to go more if we needed it."
Peterson has four straight games with at least 100 yards and leads the NFL with 961 yards on the ground this season. Peterson also tied O.J. Simpson with his sixth 200-yard game.
After scoring at least 30 points in three straight games, the Raiders struggled for most of the day against a Vikings defense that hasn’t allowed more than 23 in a game all season.
With nose tackle Linval Joseph dominating the middle against backup center Tony Bergstrom, the Raiders struggled to get a consistent running game going and Carr was often under pressure and sacked twice.
The Vikings started fast, getting an 11-yard touchdown pass from Bridgewater to Rhett Ellison on the opening drive, intercepting Carr later in the first quarter and breaking out to a 13-0 lead.
The Raiders quickly erased that hole. Carr threw TD passes to Clive Walford and Andre Holmes that put Oakland up 14-13 with under two minutes left in the half.
That was short-lived as Patterson bobbled a squib kick from Sebastian Janikowski before taking it back all the way untouched for his third career kick return touchdown, making it 20-14 at the break.
"It was certainly a momentum breaker," Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said. "We had really captured the momentum and were playing well at that time so it was definitely a blow."
Notes: Vikings S Antone Exum Jr. tackled a fan who ran onto the field before a kickoff in the fourth quarter. . . . The kick return for a score was the first against Oakland since Michael Spurlock did it in the 2012 finale for San Diego.