MINNEAPOLIS, MN - NOVEMBER 20: Kenny Onatolu #55 of the Minnesota Vikings sacks quarterback Carson Palmer #3 of the Oakland Raiders in the third quarter on November 20, 2011 at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Raiders defeated the Vikings 27-21. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
The Raiders are winning despite their best efforts not to. That is equal parts exciting and maddening.
The Raiders led the Vikings 24-7 at halftime. "No way they Bill this second half," I told myself. "This game is over...I hope."
Well, It was most certainly not over. The Raiders only scored three points in the second half, and they let the Vikings take the ball on two different possessions late in the fourth quarter with a chance to win the game.
The collapse was a team effort, but the ultimate failure to drive the nail in the coffin rest on the offense in this one. They couldn't sustain a drive, and that gave the Vikings way too many chances.
Bush's 4th quarter fumble was huge, but this game shouldn't have been close enough for that turnover to be a factor. Jump over for more....
The Raiders couldn't make big plays when they needed to in the second half. The offensive line was not protecting as well as they did in the first half, and they weren't opening up the same holes in the running game.
The play calling got conservative, and the penalties continued.
A good example of the Raiders not stepping on the Vikings throat is the Raiders drive starting with 9:47 left in the third quarter. Two straight runs by Bush got the Raiders to third and three. They ran it again and were stuffed.
That is obviously play calling aimed for the Raiders to assert their bully dominance and the offensive line couldn't pull it off.
The next possession Hue Jackson went with a different tactic. Palmer missed Meyers short on first down. They tried a weird end around to Bush on second and lost eight, and went with a conservative dumpoff on third that gained 10 yards.
It was their second straight three and out. A sustained drive on either of those possessions would have ended this game. It would have wore down the Vikings and broken their spirit. Instead, it buoyed their confidence.
The results are disturbing. It continues a trend of poor third quarters and second halves. It also comes against a team that had been even worse coming out of the locker room than the Raiders.
The results are also promising. They did all that and still won, and won on the road. We are not talking about a system wide failure. We are talking about inability to make a few key plays.
This team is still building its identity—especially on offense. There is reason to hope they can figure out how to make these plays, and how to keep momentum going in the second half.
And the most promising thing of all, is that I felt like bitching after my first place team won.