Forget the eagerly awaited matchup between Randy Moss and Charles Woodson today. Russell Maryland knew the key to the Vikings-Raiders game was the amount of pressure he would get on Randall Cunningham.
He got a lot and led Oakland to a 22-17 upset of Minnesota, an offensive powerhouse suddenly struggling to score.
"As good of a quarterback as he is and has been, nothing beats putting pressure on him," Maryland said. "You get him on the ground and you start to get to him."
With fans watching wide receiver Moss vs. cornerback Woodson, both of whom had spectacular rookie seasons last year, Maryland recovered a fumble, intercepted a pass and led a relentless rush.
The Raiders got six sacks and held the Vikings to 34 yards rushing, including minus-one in the second half.
A week after blowing a 10-point fourth-quarter lead at Green Bay, Oakland survived the Vikings' comeback bid.
With the Raiders ahead 22-10, Cunningham completed a third-and-eight pass to Jake Reed and defensive end Tony Bryant was assessed a personal foul for driving the quarterback to the turf. The penalty moved the ball to the Oakland 45.
Then safety Eric Turner drew another 15-yard penalty for spiking the ball he picked off out of bounds near the end zone. That led to Cunningham's 28-yard scoring pass to Reed that pulled Minnesota to 22-17 with 14 minutes left.
The Raiders were penalized 10 times, all in the second half.
But after pulling within five points, the Vikings (1-1) went three-and-out twice, turned over the ball on downs and threw an interception at the end.
So frustrated was Vikings Coach Dennis Green that he went for it, but came up short, on fourth and 10 from the Raiders 39 with 7 1/2 minutes remaining.
Said Green: "I just felt like we had to try to make something happen."