They tried as hard as they could to give it away at the end, just as they had in the previous two games. In the end, however, the Minnesota Vikings left the United Kingdom with their first victory of 2013.
Everson Griffen got a strip-sack of Ben Roethlisberger with just under twenty seconds remaining in the ball game with the Steelers on the Minnesota 6-yard line. Kevin Williams then jumped on the loose football to secure the team's 34-27 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers at Wembley Stadium in London, England.
Things got off to a nice start for the Vikings, as Blair Walsh converted his twelfth straight field goal from 50-plus yards to give them a 3-0 lead on Minnesota's first drive. Walsh is 12-for-12 in his career from more than 50 yards out. After stopping the Steelers on their first drive, quarterback Matt Cassel found Greg Jennings on a short pass on 3rd-and-4. After a few nifty moves in the open field, Jennings found himself with nothing but green in front of him, ending up with a 70-yard touchdown to give the Vikings a 10-0 lead.
Pittsburgh would answer back with a 8-yard touchdown run by rookie running back Le'Veon Bell. It was the Steelers' first rushing touchdown of the season, and their first since Week 15 of 2012. That made the score 10-7, and it remained that way until the early part of the second quarter. On 1st-and-10 from the Minnesota 40, Adrian Peterson took a handoff and added another huge run to his already impressive highlight reel, going in from 60 yards out to make the score 17-7. The teams exchanged field goals, and Minnesota went into the locker room at halftime with a 20-10 lead.
The Steelers cut the deficit to three on their first drive of the second half, as Bell's second touchdown run made the score 20-17. Minnesota then answered with another impressive drive, highlighted by a 51-yard pitch-and-catch from Cassel to Jerome Simpson. Peterson closed the drive with his second touchdown of the day, and the Minnesota lead went back to 10 at 27-17.
Minnesota caught a break on Pittsburgh's next drive, as a pretty terrible pass from Roethlisberger that was intended for Emmanuel Sanders instead wound up in the hands of linebacker Chad Greenway for the first turnover of the afternoon. Two plays and a fifteen-yard face mask penalty later, Jennings found himself in the end zone again, this time on a 16-yard toss from Cassel to make the score 34-17. The score would stay that way into the final quarter of play.
Pittsburgh started the fourth quarter with the ball, and cut into the Minnesota lead again with a 15-yard touchdown pass from Roethlisberger to Jerricho Cotchery to make the score 34-24. The Vikings had an opportunity to shovel a little more dirt onto the Steelers, but a rare miss from Blair Walsh from 44 yards out kept the Minnesota lead at 10. The missed field goal came after a play where it looked like the Vikings were going to go for it on 4th-and-2 on the Steelers' 27, but after trying to draw the defense offside sent Walsh out for the three-point try.
Pittsburgh drove down the field again, but the Vikings' defense stiffened up and kept them to a 28-yard Shaun Suisham field goal to make the score 34-27. Minnesota got the ball back and managed to run a little bit of time off the clock, but punted the ball back to the Steelers just after the two-minute warning, giving Pittsburgh the ball at their own 22-yard line with 1:43 left on the clock.
Roethlisberger wasted little time, hitting Cotchery for 36 yards on Pittsburgh's first play to move into Minnesota territory. The Steelers converted two third downs along the way on their final drive, but ultimately fell victim to Griffin's sack of Roethlisberger to end the game. Cassel took a knee, and the Vikings celebrated their first victory of 2013.
Cassel started out a bit shaky, completing just six of his fifteen pass attempts in the first half for 128 yards. He came on much stronger in the second half, completing all ten of his pass attempts to finish 16-of-25 for 248 yards and the two touchdown passes to Jennings. Jennings finished with 92 yards receiving. . .a number that was eclipsed by Jerome Simpson, who went over the century mark for the second time this year with 124 yards on seven grabs. The only other Viking with multiple receptions on the afternoon was tight end Kyle Rudolph, who had two catches for just six yards. Four other Minnesota receivers had one catch each.
Adrian Peterson played his best game of the season, carrying the ball 23 times for 140 yards and the two scores.
The Vikings' defense sacked Roethlisberger five times on the afternoon, including 2.5 for Jared Allen, who shared a sack with rookie Sharrif Floyd. Chad Greenway also had a sack to go along with his interception.
The Vikings won despite Pittsburgh outgaining them overall (434 yards to 393) and having nearly twice as many first downs (29 for the Steelers to 16 for the Vikings). The Vikings were plus-two in the turnover department, which played a big role in their victory today as well.
Minnesota moves to 1-3 on the season, and will have their bye week next week to rest up after traveling back to the States. In Week 6, they will host the Carolina Panthers at the Metrodome.