When you go into a place like Heinz Field to take on a team like the Pittsburgh Steelers, you have to be on top of every facet of your game. On Sunday afternoon, the Minnesota Vikings were. . .well, they were not.
Untimely penalties and some questionable decisions both came back to haunt the Vikings on Sunday afternoon, as they fell to the Pittsburgh Steelers by a final score of 26-9.
The Steelers got on the scoreboard first, taking advantage of a truly dumb offsides penalty by Brian Robison to get a free first down on 4th-and-1 deep in their own territory. After a pass interference penalty on Xavier Rhodes pushed the ball into Minnesota territory, Ben Roethlisberger found Martavis Bryant for a 27-yard touchdown pass, putting the Steelers ahead by a score of 7-0.
Pittsburgh’s second touchdown was also set up by a penalty, as Trae Waynes was flagged for a big 49-yard pass interference penalty while trying to cover Bryant, moving the ball to the Minnesota 12-yard line. Three plays later, Roethlisberger found rookie wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster from four yards out for the touchdown, as Chris Boswell’s extra point made it 14-0 early in the second quarter of play.
Minnesota finally got on the board midway through the second quarter, courtesy of a 42-yard field goal from Kai Forbath to make the score 14-3. That’s how the teams went into the locker room at halftime.
The Steelers benefitted from another Vikings’ penalty early in the third quarter, as Chris Boswell missed a 51-yard field goal attempt, but the Vikings were called for an illegal defensive formation to give him another opportunity. Boswell then connected from 46 to make the score 17-3 in favor of the Steelers.
The Vikings got their first touchdown midway through the third quarter on a 1-yard touchdown plunge by C.J. Ham. The play before was originally ruled as a 26-yard touchdown run by Dalvin Cook, but replay ruled Cook down short of the goal line. Still, it was the most impressive drive of the afternoon for the Vikings by far. . .and then Kai Forbath hooked the extra point to the left, making it an 8-point game at 17-9.
Pittsburgh added to their lead on their next possession, after Trae Waynes got burned by Martavis Bryant for a big catch that put the Steelers inside the Minnesota 20. However, Everson Griffen collected his second sack of the afternoon on Roethlisberger, limiting the Steelers to another field goal attempt. Boswell once again connected, this time from 29, to increase Pittsburgh’s lead to 20-9. The Steelers got a third field goal from Boswell, this one a 37-yarder, to make the score 23-9 with about three minutes remaining in the game, and he added a 43-yarder after the Vikings turned it over on downs late to make it 26-9. That’s how it ended at Heinz Field.
The stat sheet for the Vikings is an ugly one. Keenum looked. . .well, he looked like a backup quarterback in this one, completing 20-of-37 passes for 167 yards.
After getting off to a slow start, Dalvin Cook wound up with 64 yards rushing on just 12 carries. He went into halftime with just three yards on six carries. C.J. Ham got his first NFL touchdown on his lone carry. Jerick McKinnon had 16 yards rushing on three carries, and Latavius Murray had six yards on three carries on the afternoon.
On the receiving side, Kyle Rudolph led the team in receiving, hauling in six catches for 45 yards. Adam Thielen had five catches for 44 yards, and Laquon Treadwell. . .yes, that Laquon Treadwell. . .had multiple catches, bringing in three catches for 33 yards. Stefon Diggs was limited to 27 yards on two receptions.
It was penalties, however, that were truly the Vikings’ undoing in this one, as they were flagged 11 times for 131 yards, and gave the Steelers several first downs via penalty in key situations. Mike Zimmer can’t be terribly pleased with that, and I don’t think that we’ll see a repeat of that next week.
Speaking of next week, the Vikings fall to 1-1 on the season and will return home to U.S. Bank Stadium in Week 3, hosting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0). The Steelers move to 2-0 on the season, and will travel to Soldier Field next week to take on the Chicago Bears (0-2).
The Minnesota Vikings fall to the Pittsburgh Steelers by a final score of at Heinz Field. Thank you to everyone that got their coverage of this afternoon’s game right here at The Daily Norseman!