Two times this season the Steelers defense couldn’t get things done in the fourth quarter of games they were leading in. Sunday vs the undefeated Vikings, they not only got the job done, but put up two huge scores to cement a 27-17 win over Brett Favre and a Minnesota team was was 6-0 coming into Heinz Field.
LaMarr Woodley returned a fumble caused by Brett Keisel 77 yards for a score to give the Steelers a 20-10 lead in the fourth quarter, then after the special teams gave it right back allowing an 88-yard kickoff return to Percy Harvin to make it 20-17, the D closed out the win as Keyaron Fox took back a pick 82 yards to close out the win.
The Steelers (5-2) didn’t have a big day on offense, scoring just one touchdown and having to settle for two Jeff Reed field goals. They wasted a huge scoring chance in the 4th quarter up 13-10 when Rashard Mendenhall went airborne and lost the ball on the Minnesota three-yard line. That score was followed up by the Vikings drive that eventually saw Keisel come around and strip Favre, allowing Woodley to pick up the ball and go the distance.
After Harvin stunned the Steelers with a kick return to make it 20-17, the Steelers offense gained one first down before having to punt, giving the Vikings one last shot. They marched to the Steelers 18, but Favre’s screen intended for Chester Taylor bounced off his hands, and right into Fox’s, who took it the rest of the way to seal the win.
Pittsburgh’s offense was able to give them the lead before halftime 10-7, as after an Adrian Peterson TD gave Minnesota the lead, Ben Roethlisberger put a drive together, hitting Mike Wallace with a pretty 40-yard score late in the half to give Pittsburgh the three-point lead. Roethlisberger had his most quiet day of the year, going 14 of 26 for 175 yards with the one score.
The Steelers offense, which put up over 500 yards vs Cleveland last week, was held to 259 against the Vikings, but in the end, as Mike Tomlin would always say – style points don’t matter, as long as you get the win. Favre was 34 of 51 for 334 yards, but the Steelers put pressure on him all day, getting to him for four sacks.
Peterson had 69 yards on the ground on 18 carries for Minnesota, and had four catches for 60 yards. Sydney Rice had 11 grabs for 136 yards for the Vikings. The Steelers did little in the pass game, and were led by Wallace with 72 yards, and Santonio Holmes who had two grabs for 59 yards. Hines Ward had just one catch for three yards.
In the end though, it was the big plays of the Steelers D that pulled it out. They can take a breath now and relax during the bye before they play in Denver against the undefeated Broncos on Monday November 9th.