Vikings 36 Steelers 28

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MINNEAPOLIS, MN-For the second straight game, the Pittsburgh Steelers had a slow first half start, but a strong second half finish, but unlike their game against the Baltimore Ravens, the Steelers would not be able to pull out the win as their comeback efforts fell short in a 36-28 loss to the Minnesota Vikings at US Bank Stadium.

 


Had Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger’s pass to TE Pat Friermuth been caught, the Steelers would have been a 2-point conversion away from sending the game into overtime, but the rookie could not hold onto the ball as he was hit in the end zone as time expired, giving the Vikings the win and dropping the Steelers to 6-6-1.

 

“Just to be blunt, we’re getting oversaw up front on both sides of the ball, and that makes it difficult,” said Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin “It makes it difficult to do what we desire to do. It makes it difficult to maintain balance. It makes it difficult to dictate to our opponents what happens or what happens next.”

But as entertaining as the second half was for the Steelers, their first half was a nightmare as they gave up 26 points to the Vikings and were unable to stop RB Dalvin Cook, who rushed for over 100 yards and scored 2 TDs in the half. QB Kirk Cousins 14-yard TD pass to WR Justin Jefferson and K Greg Joseph’s 38-yard FG provided the other points in the half. Cook would torment the Steelers defense most of the game as he finished with a season-high 205 yards.

 


“It’s going to be tough sledding for us until we get better in that area,” said Tomlin. “We’re not good in that area. We were JV again tonight, and I’m talking about up front on both sides. We lost the battle in the lines of scrimmage, and that’s football. We make no excuse. It is what it is. We’ve got to be better than we were.”

Such a deficit would cause any team to call it a night, but the Steelers refused to give up as they would score all 28 of their points in the second half. Roethlisberger (303 yards) would find RB Najee Harris, WR James Washington and Friermuth for TDs and Harris would rush for another as it appeared that the Steelers would pull off the impossible. But a missed 2-point conversion and a late Vikings TD tried to throw a wrench in the Steelers plans. But Big Ben and the Steelers offense would continue fighting until the end.

 

The Steelers defense may have only given up 10 points in the first half, but the concerns remain about their inability to stop the run in the first half and the 29 points deficit were reminders of their 41-10 loss to Cincinnati. And it also did not help that the unit was without All-Pro LB TJ Watt (Groin) and fellow LB Alex Highsmith (knee). As a result, the Steelers were unable to sack Cousins at all in the game.

A bright spot in the second half was the play of CB Ahkello Witherspoon (who was acquired from Seattle in the offseason) as he intercepted two passes which led to 2 Steelers TDs. Witherspoon’s presence aids a Steelers secondary that has struggled with the absence of Pro- Bowl CB Joe Haden. (foot)

As impressive as the Steelers comeback was, December football is not about moral victories as their loss put a damper on their playoff hopes. With four games left to play, the Steelers will now need to get wins vs Tennessee, Kansas City, and rematches with the Browns and Ravens. It is a tough road, but the Steelers have no choice but to be ready to travel on it.

Ray Porter Jr

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