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Andy Furillo: Roadrunner kills Raiders

A guy named Peterson had a fairly good game for the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, but it was a less-renowned player by the name of Patterson who sent the Raiders’ season into losing territory.

The Raiders had just scored to take a surprising late first-half lead. Only problem was that Oakland still had to kick off, and it was this Cordarrelle Patterson kid who fielded the bouncing boot from Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski. The plan was to keep Janikowski from kicking into the wind. The result was Oakland reaping the whirlwind created by Patterson.

First, Patterson had to bat the ball around the bit, before he could get his mitts on it. When he finally gained custody and control, he angled left to the near sideline. Then he threw it into gear, and who could touch him? Not the Raiders. Patterson flew 93 yards to put the Vikings back on top, exactly 12 seconds after Derek Carr’s 34-yard touchdown pass to Andre Holmes gave Oakland that very brief lead.

Adrian Peterson’s finishing kick from 80 yards away kicked dirt on the Raiders’ season that took a turn for the worse. The 30-14 Vikings victory dropped Oakland to 4-5.

Running into Patterson

It could have been so much different, if not for that Patterson fellow. A third-year man out of Tennessee, Patterson in his rookie year for the Vikings in 2013 once ran a kickoff back 109 yards. It still stands as an NFL record, and it’s difficult to conceive of anybody ever breaking it. Another yard back, and you’re out of the end zone. You have to go to Canada to find a longer runback. The end zones are 20 yards deep there.

One published report on Patterson clocked him at 4.42 over 40 yards, which equates to 18.5 mph, or the equivalent speed of a roadrunner. On Sunday, it was the Raiders who played Wile E. Coyote.

Oakland coach Jack Del Rio knew all about Cordarrelle’s speed, and he knew how important it was for the Raiders to go into the dank Coliseum locker room after a half in which they didn’t play that hot. His team had fallen behind 13-0. Carr had been intercepted once by the elderly sensation at left cornerback, Terence Newman. Raiders penalties hurt the offense’s chances to score points, and they assisted Minnesota in scoring a few of theirs. Yet Carr rallied to throw a 10-yard pass to Clive Walford in the second quarter before connecting later with Holmes with 1:52 to go before the break. How wonderful it would have been for Oakland to take its rest up 14-13.

The plan to keep it at that score was to direct the ball away from the roadrunner. But Patterson dropped an anvil on the Raiders’ head.

As instructed, Oakland kicker Sebastian Janikowski bounced a squibber down the middle. It was not part of the plan for the football to wind up in Patterson’s neighborhood.

“Would have preferred to see one of the up backs pick it up, keep it out of that guy’s hands,” Del Rio said. “But it went through. He got it, they blocked well, he’s a good returner, and he made us pay.”

Patterson flashed that 4.42 speed in getting out of the Vikings’ clubhouse. He was up and out by the time the media hordes made their way into the winner’s circle.

Running back Matt Asiata acted as one of Patterson’s attendants on the critical touchdown run. Asiata had been stationed deep with the roadrunner, and when he saw Janikowski’s grounder bounce toward the hero of the final 1:30 of the first half, he ran upfield looking for somebody to hit.

“Everybody just trying to grab a man and let CP do his thing,” Asiata said. “He’s back there, you got to open up a gap for him. I just go and try to find a guy, and I see a guy coming down, so I put my hand up and try to slow him down, and it kind of springed CP down the sideline.”

It appeared Asiata effected his brush block on the Raiders’ Neiko Thorpe, who really was the only member of the kick team who had a chance to get hands on the man who picked up the bouncing ball.

Minnesota kicker Blair Walsh improved the Vikings’ advantage to 23-14 with 3:50 to go in the game, and the Raiders’ hopes for a miracle finish were gone with the wind when the 37-year-old Newman again intercepted Carr, this time in the end zone.

Enter Peterson, who made like Patterson. A little crack at right tackle was all he needed to get out. Eighty yards later, he had 203 yards on 26 carries for the day. The touchdown extended the Vikings’ lead to 30-14, and the Raiders’ season that a few weeks ago looked very promising now looks less so.

“Obviously we felt like as a football team we didn’t get it done today,” Del Rio said. “But we know we’re capable of being better. We’ll have to get better going forward. That’s the bottom line.

“We’ve got plenty of bounce-back in us,” the coach continued. “We’ve got a good group in terms of being resilient. I don’t think there’s any question about that. We’ve got a lot of football ahead of us.”

Just watch out for roadrunners, who can kill you every time.

Andy Furillo: 916-321-1141, @andyfurillo

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