Raiders' Defense Needs to Get Back to Basics to Stop Vikings

Oakland will try to rebound from tough loss at Pittsburgh to stop Minnesota's potent rushing attack with Adrian Peterson

In losing to the Steelers last week in Pittsburgh, the Raiders defense took a beating.

Now Oakland, 4-4, will try to regroup with a much better effort against the 6-2 Minnesota Vikings at Coliseum Sunday (1:05 p.m. kickoff).

While Oakland's offense has been explosive and efficient this season and now ranks No. 8 in the NFL, the Raiders' defense has been exploited at times. It gave up a franchise-record 597 yards in the 38-35 loss to the Steelers, and now will be tasked with stopping a much different style of offense. Minnesota ranks only 30th in the NFL in total offense, behind second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (who is expecting to clear concussion protocols and start Sunday) but is the No. 6 rushing attack. Running back Adrian Peterson leads the NFL with 758 yards and has four 100-yard games over his last seven.

The game may hinge on how well the Raiders can contain Peterson and the Vikes' offense. The Derek Carr-led Raiders offense seems capable of scoring points -- they've put up 30 or more four times this season -- but the defense hasn't been up to the same standard.

Raiders defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. said this week that Peterson can take over a game, and his defense can't allow him to do that.

"Anytime you go against a player like they have in their No. 28 (Peterson), you have to go back to your fundamentals," said Norton. "You really have to be sure in your gap control and you have to be a really good tackler. He's as good as he's ever been."

Bridgewater has been inconsistent in 2015 after a strong rookie season. He's thrown six TD passes vs. six interceptions, and his receiving corps is dangerous -- Mike Wallace is a deep threat -- but nothing like the Steelers, who have the uncoverable Antonio Brown.

To Norton, this week's game is a test for the Raiders to see if they can get back to the basics of solid defense: stopping the run and taking away Bridgewater's long-ball opportunities.

If the Raiders can do that, they may be able to come away with a win and again climb above .500.

"We really pride ourselves on our defense stopping the run and staying on top (of the deep ball) and they (Steelers) really attacked the things that we thought we did well," Norton told reporters. "So we really have to get back to our fundamentals, really get back to the things that we do best and we spent that time this week to really come back to who we are."

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