The Pittsburgh Steelers fell behind in the first half on the strength of two long touchdowns by the Minnesota Vikings. The Steelers look to overcome the 20-10 deficit in the second half, in which they receive the ball first.
In in the first half, Markus Wheaton came out for the first snap on offense. Le’Veon Bell took the handoff, however, for four yards. Kelvin Beachum remained at left guard, with Ramon Foster’s return deemed questionable. On second down, Ben Roethlisberger found Emmanuel Sanders at the 30 for a first down.
Bell did well to gain five yards on his second carry of the half to keep the Steelers in front of the chains. They went run formation on second down but threw to Jerricho Cotchery for 16 yards down to midfield. Roethlisberger went deep to Antonio Brown on the next play, and he drew a pass interference call in the end zone to set up first and goal. Good play-calling to start the half.
On first and goal, Bell followed David DeCastro on a pull, but came up just inches shy of the goal line. On second and goal, however, he punched it in with ease, scoring two touchdowns so far in his NFL debut. The Steelers now trail 20-17.
In the interim, Foster was ruled out for the remainder of the game, leaving Guy Whimper as the sole reserve along the offensive line.
Cordarrelle Patterson had another good runback out to the 25. He then proceeded to stiff arm Cortez Allen for an extra five yards on first down. Adrian Peterson was dropped for a loss on second down, but a hold was called and accepted to make it second and 11. Troy Polamalu shot the gap to help blow up the play. However, on the following play, Matt Cassel hooked up with Jerome Simpson for 51 yards down to the 25.
Peterson gained eight on the following play up the middle. Polamalu once again helped blow up a running play in the backfield on second down to set up third and one, but he was able to pick up the first down and more on the next play, which put him over 100 yards for the game, and he walked in untouched one play later to put the Vikings up 27-17.
The Steelers spelled Bell with Jonathan Dwyer to begin the second drive, and he carried for seven yards on first down, but he lost one on second down. Wheaton, lined up in the backfield, ran a route and caught the pass for the first down. The Steelers had been running this play with Jerricho Cotchery with success. On the next play, however, Roethlisberger threw the ball right to Erin Henderson for the interception. Roethlisberger expected Sanders to continue the route.
LaMarr Woodley was flagged for unnecessary roughness on the first play, which put the Vikings in field goal range already. On the next play, Greg Jennings beat Cortez Allen, going up for the score. The Vikings take a 34-17 lead.
Le’Veon Bell took a screen pass 18 yards on first down. Three plays later, Roethlisberger was sacked for the fourth time to end yet another drive. The Steelers defense was able to force a three and out on the next drive. Kion Wilson was flagged for holding on the punt.
Moving to the hurry up, Sanders converted a first down on the first play for 11 yards. Heath Miller converted another first down to close the third quarter. Le’Veon Bell came off the field gimpy after the play.
Antonio Brown was dropped for a loss of four on a failed screen pass. On second and 14, Cotchery came up with a tough catch in traffic, and an unnecessary roughness penalty put the Steelers down to the 35. Markus Wheaton came up with a big catch to convert a third and six.
From the 15, Xavier Rhodes defended a pass intended for Sanders. However, Roethlisberger found Cotchery for a touchdown to pull within 10. Roethlisberger seemed to injure his hand on the play, but on the plus side, Bell returned to the game.
Once again, Cordarrelle Patterson had another good return. The Vikings then got on to the business of churning out first downs. The Steelers did not force a fourth down until they were within the 30, but the field goal attempt went wide. Pittsburgh takes over at the 34.
The Steelers attempted another screen pass to Bell, but it never coalesced and Bell was just fortunate to get out of bounds for no gain. On second down, Roethlisberger threw Cotchery open, who gained 27 yards down to the 39. Bell took a draw nine yards on first down, and a pass to Brown converted down to the 24. Eluding pressure, Roethlisberger found Miller open down to the 12. Two incomplete passes set up third and 10, and the Steelers were forced to dump a pass off to Bell on third for one yard. Suisham, however, made it a one-score game at 34-27 with 3:37 to play.
On the Vikings’ ensuing drive, Adrian Peterson converted a backbreaker of a third and one. After setting up another third down, this time with three to go, the Steelers called a timeout with 1:56 to play. They got a big stop on third down and called their last timeout to set the offense up with a chance to tie the game with 1:50 to play.
From the 22, Cotchery caught the pass cutting to the edge, but because the corner played the ball, he had room to run, and he got down to the Vikings 42. Brown caught the next pass for 10 yards, and Roethlisberger stopped the clock after with 1:18 to play. Miller gained seven and got out of bounds to set up third and three. Once again, Brown converted the first down, and Roethlisberger clocked it, now with 59 seconds to play.
On second down, Brown took a short pass seven yards. On third down, Brown bobbled the ball, but was able to come down with it as he was hit. Another clock, and it’s second and goal with 22 seconds to play.
A free rusher forced a throw away on second down. On third down, Roethlisberger was sacked and fumbled. Just on the cusp of climbing out, the hand of fate pushes the Steelers back down into the abyss, as they fall to 0-4 on the year.