The Minnesota Vikings jumped out to an early, three-score lead Sunday against the Raiders, and were content to sit on it until time ran out.
The Vikings were running right through the Raiders, and saw no reason to change strategy just to balance the attack. They were so effective running with Dalvin Cook and other backs you’ve never heard of that they didn’t pass in the fourth quarter. Not even once.
They stayed in two-receiver sets most of the game to help block for their backs, keeping the Raiders in a base defense.
That also kept Lamarcus Joyner off the field. The high-priced slot cornerback is subject to offensive personnel, and therefore only played 23 of 63 defensive snaps. He had just one tackle and never was targeted in the passing game, making him a non-factor in an important showdown.
Joyner is one of the team’s better defensive players, and essentially was taken out of this one. That also meant an ailing linebacker corps had to man an extra spot, leaving Nicholas Morrow (32 snaps) and Kyle Wilber (19 snaps) out there more than normal.
The Raiders could keep him playing every snap by using him at two positions. He’s undoubtedly the team’s best free safety, and he could play there in the base defense and move into the slot in sub packages. That would help relieve some issues created with Curtis Riley at safety. The veteran has struggled mightily since taking over for Johnathan Abram.
Joyner prefers the slot, but he was solid playing safety with the Rams and has said he’s comfortable rotating between the positions. The Raiders have focused him on the slot, but he could switch back if required.
The Raiders also didn’t use their situational pass rushers much, given the Vikings penchant for working in the base package. That meant sack leader Benson Mayowa played just 16 snaps. Arden Key only saw 11 as he continues to struggle finishing plays.
J.J. Nelson also played a ton, with 46 snaps off work with Ryan Grant a healthy scratch. Keelan Doss was active but barely used, sitting way down on the depth chart despite the team’s struggles creating separation.
Total offensive snaps: 59
Quarterback – Derek Carr 59
Running back – Jalen Richard 29, Josh Jacobs 25, DeAndre Washington 9, Alec Ingold 7
Wide receiver – Tyrell Williams 57, J.J. Nelson 46, Hunter Renfrow 33, Keelan Doss 2
Tight end – Darren Waller 53, Foster Moreau 23, Derek Carrier 10
Offensive line – Richie Incognito 59, Kolton Miller 59, Jordan Devey 59, Rodney Hudson 59, Trent Brown 50, Brandon Parker 10
Total defensive snaps: 63
Defensive line – Clelin Ferrell 52, Johnathan Hankins 47, Josh Mauro 40, P.J. Hall 38, Maurice Hurst 33, Maxx Crosby 16, Benson Mayowa 16, Arden Key 11
Linebacker – Tahir Whitehead 59, Vontaze Burfict 51, Nicholas Morrow 32, Kyle Wilber 19, Marquel Lee 5
Defensive back – Karl Joseph 61, Daryl Worley 55, Gareon Conley 52, Curtis Riley 45, Lamarcus Joyner 23, Erik Harris 19, Trayvon Mullen 18
Harris 22, Wilber 22, Nixon 22, Carrier 19, Dallin Leavitt 16, Moreau 16, Ingold 15, Riley 11, Morrow 11, Joseph 10, Richard 9, Washington 8, Trent Sieg 7, Mulen 7, Worley 7, AJ Cole 7, Whitehead 6, Ferrell 6, Hankins 6, Hurst 6, Burfict 5, Daniel Carlson 6, Denzelle Good 3, Incognito 3, Parker 3, Miller 3, Devey 3, Brown 2, Waller 2 Andre James 1, Lee 1