8 Reactions to the Vikings’ Defensive Victory over the Raiders

The Minnesota Vikings won a doozy of a game on Sunday, defeating the Las Vegas Raiders by a score of 3-0.

That is not a typo. This game went deep into the fourth quarter tied at 0-0, until Greg Joseph mercifully ended the tie by hitting a 36-yard field goal, which ended up being just enough for the Vikings to win. With this game now in the books, here are 8 reactions to the game that improved the Vikings to 7-6 on the season.

1. Another Justin Jefferson Injury

8 Reactions
Dec 10, 2023; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) warms up before a game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Well, as soon as the excitement for Justin Jefferson’s return to the field arrived, it disappeared again. Jefferson exited Sunday’s game with what was deemed as a chest injury following a big hit from Raiders safety Marcus Epps, and he was ruled out shortly after. Jefferson finished his day with just two receptions for 27 yards, and now, we’ll have to just hope that he is okay for next weekend against the Bengals.

2. Offensive Line Is Banged Up

Aug 14, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Minnesota Vikings guard Ed Ingram (67) defends against Las Vegas Raiders defensive tackle Vernon Butler (94) in the first half at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings offensive line is reaching the danger zone with injuries right now. They went into the game without Ed Ingram, who was ruled out with a hip injury suffered earlier in the week. In his stead, Blake Brandel got the start at right guard. However, the Vikings also lost both Brian O’Neill and Dalton Risner throughout the game, so David Quessenberry and Austin Schlottmann had to step in as relief.

3. The QB Change

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears
Jan 8, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Nick Mullens (12) stands behind center during the third quarter against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings finally made their QB change in the second half when Nick Mullens replaced Josh Dobbs following a 10-for-23 passing performance from the starter. Dobbs finished the day with just 63 yards and was sacked five times over the course of the afternoon. On Mullens’ second drive of the game, he led the Vikings on their game-winning field goal drive, throwing for 83 yards along the way. It will be interesting to see if he remains the starter next weekend in Cincinnati.

4. A Strong Rushing Performance

Dec 10, 2023; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby (98) and linebacker Divine Deablo (5) tackle Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison (2) in the first half at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Not much positive can be said for the Vikings offense in this game, but one of the few positives happened to be the rushing attack. Alexander Mattison finished his day with 10 carries for 66 yards before leaving with an injury while the Vikings had 30 carries for 132 yards overall on the day. Ty Chandler still needs to improve his efficiency as a runner (averaged 2.9 yards per carry), but Mattison has been a strong player for a few weeks now.

5. Greg Joseph Bounces Back

Dec 10, 2023; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Minnesota Vikings place kicker Greg Joseph (1) reacts after missing a field goal attempt against the Las Vegas Raiders during the first quarter at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Greg Joseph has been one of the more scrutinized players on the Vikings roster over the years, and the scrutiny popped up again when he missed a 49-yard field goal down the stretch of the first half. It seemed like that miss was destined to be the difference in the game as we steamrolled our way towards a 0-0 tie in the end of regulation, but the Vikings kicker redeemed himself by nailing a 36-yarder to help seal the deal.

6. Ivan Pace Calls Game

Dec 10, 2023; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams (17) is tackled by Minnesota Vikings linebacker Ivan Pace Jr. (40) during the first quarter at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

When the Vikings, who had called upon their defense all game long, needed one more play from the unit, it was rookie linebacker Ivan Pace who stepped up. The former UDFA has come a long way with the team in just a few short months, and his interception at the end of the fourth quarter may have been the manifesto of a magical rookie season.

7. The NFC North Is Back Up for Grabs

NFL: Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings
Nov 27, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell greets safety Harrison Smith (22) before the game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Chicago Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

With this Vikings win, they now move to 7-6 on the season and continue to hold the No. 6 seed in the NFC. However, the Detroit Lions also lost to the Chicago Bears, meaning Minnesota is now just two games behind Detroit and their 9-4 record. Both games between the two teams will happen over the final three weeks of the season, so the NFC North is very much up for grabs after this weekend.

8. What Now for the Vikings Offense?

Nov 5, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell on the sideline against the Atlanta Falcons in the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Just a couple months ago, if any Vikings fan suggested that it would be the defense carrying this team rather than the offense, they might have been laughed out of the room. That is exactly where we are though after Week 14. The Vikings have scored 13 points in their past two games combined, and the offense looks completely out of sync right now. Something is going to have to give in the final four weeks if this team is going to make noise in the playoffs.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.