With another up and down performance, the Pittsburgh Steelers nearly come back with a chance at the end, but the terrible first half was too much to overcome in a 36-28 loss and a 6-6-1 record. In this article I will provide data from Pro Football Focus and takeaways from watching the film.
Let’s start with the offense:
Chase Claypool tops the PFF grades at 81.5 highlighting good plays he made but doesn’t account for the frustrating antics in the game. The other 70+ grades are tackle Chukwuma Okorafor and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The below fifty grades include tight end Pat Freiermuth, center Kendrick Green, and guard John Leglue.
Pittsburgh’s offense began their first drive with 11:43 off Minnesota’s missed field goal and good field position, where Roethlisberger play actioned then fit a tight window throw after a pump fake to wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud on the slant from the slot for a gain of seven. On second and three, running back Najee Harris got his first carry but offensive lineman Dan Moore, Green, and Trai Turner couldn’t get a push on the two-yard churning gain. Third and one now, and Harris got another two-yard gain where Leglue worked to the linebacker creating enough room for the third down conversion!
The following first down was an under-center play action rollout, then pass to Claypool who pulled across the formation for the short catch and run for a successful six yards. Following the play the defender bumped Claypool, but he retaliated getting a taunting penalty where he pointed and pushed the players helmet, a silly mistake setting the offense back 15 yards! On second and 19 Minnesota blitzed the linebacker who came free up the middle where Harris couldn’t get there in time, allowing the hit on Roethlisberger’s throw falling slightly short to McCloud. Third and 19 now, and wide receiver Diontae Johnson got his first catch just shy of the sticks where he unfortunately fell to the ground with running room on the outside. The Steelers decided to go for it on fourth and four, going quick to the line but Leglue got beat but Roethlisberger was able to step up and scramble for the fourth down conversion! The Vikings were also penalized for a hold for additional yards on first down.
The drive continued on the ground with running back Benny Snell, where Okorafor lost his block and Johnson’s block lacked effort allowing the tackle for a loss of two. On second and 12 Green and Turner both got pushed back on the pass play with the latter allowing the sack fumble on Roethlisberger (able to recover), with Coach Tomlin challenging it was a pass attempt but the call was upheld. This set up third and 18, with Minnesota blitzing and Harris getting pushed back into Roethlisberger’s face forcing a quick throw to Johnson on a short in route, but the defense rallied to tackle him well short of the first down on the gain of six. The drive ended with kicker Chris Boswell’s first field goal attempt, but both teams end up with opening drive missed field goals and no score.
With 3:31 in the first quarter, the offense started off with a Johnson jet sweep with Freiermuth out in front for a good gain of seven yards. On second and three, Claypool went in motion then returned to take the second consecutive jet sweep, but two Vikings were waiting and fought hard to elude the tackles but unnecessarily stretched the ball out for a fumble, but luckily caught a break upon review his leg was down and it was overturned. Third and one now, and Harris got the carry, but Claypool missed his block allowing the tackle for a loss of two! Rough start for Claypool, offense goes three and out, down by six.
The offense returned with 14:43 in the second quarter down by nine, Minnesota won with a four-man rush and dropped everyone else into deep coverage forcing Roethlisberger to hold onto the ball with Turner getting pushed back and Green unable to land his block allowing the sack along with Leglue getting beat and both Harris and tight end Zach Gentry ending up on the ground. On second and 19, Harris got the toss with Moore pulling in front, but McCloud was beat on his block allowing the tackle on the short gain of three. Third and a long 16 now, and Moore was bull rushed into Roethlisberger’s pass attempt to wide receiver James Washington that fell incomplete. Second three and out, still down by nine.
With 9:49 in the second quarter and down by 16, Roethlisberger rolled right from shotgun to hit Claypool on a quick out for a five-yard gain. On second and five, Harris got the toss, but Johnson missed his block allowing the tackle behind the line for a loss of two. Third and seven now, and Minnesota brought a safety blitz off the edge, coming free off the blind side and leveling Roethlisberger for their third sack of the game. Third straight three and out, when it rains it pours!
The rain became hail with the defense allowing another touchdown, and on first down Harris got the carry cutting inside a decent Freiermuth block and fighting through tacklers on the nine-yard gain with Minnesota also being penalized for a horse collar tackle adding an additional 15 yards to the play! Roethlisberger then attempted a quick screen pass to Johnson off a high snap from Green, but it was tipped by the free rusher and incomplete. On second and ten Johnson was penalized for holding setting up second and 17. Claypool got open on a quick out here gaining six yards. Third and 11 now, and Leglue went to the sideline, replaced by Rashaad Coward at left guard for the play and he double team blocked with Green inside allowing two free rushers that Harris couldn’t pick up, allowing the third sack on Roethlisberger! The hits on our quarterback are mounting, another short drive, no points, still down by 23!
One more first half opportunity with 44 seconds left, and Johnson got the short target but couldn’t get out of bounds on the gain of six. On second and four, Okorafor was penalized for a false start that resulted in a ten second run off, setting up second and nine. With only nine seconds left, Minnesota played off allowing a short catch and run by Freiermuth for 16 yards ending the half. Very disappointing half with only 66 yards and no points…terrible!
The offense came on first to start the second half, beginning with a Harris run for four yards off another high snap from Green, who got a decent push along with Turner, Okorafor, and fullback Derek Watt leading the way. On second and seven, Roethlisberger play actioned then threw the quick slant to Johnson, but the pass was tipped by a defensive lineman falling incomplete. Third down now, and Minnesota was penalized for offsides setting up third and two. The Steelers gave the yardage right back with Roethlisberger vigorously clapping for the snap along with Turner tapping and called for the false start due to Green failing to snap the ball, what else could go wrong? Third and seven again, and sorry I asked since Roethlisberger was sacked here for the fourth time, with Leglue, Green, and Turner blocking no one and the latter allowing the free blitzer to make the play! Another punt, poor drive out of halftime, still no points.
With 9:31 in the third quarter, Harris started the drive with a four-yard carry with Moore and Gentry getting nice blocks on the successful run. On second and six, Harris had his longest carry of the season for 23 yards, with Okorafor and Gentry setting up the hole and Johnson a great block for the second level yards down the sideline! The excitement ended there though, with following first down being intercepted by the corner out muscling Johnson for the ball, must show more effort there, as if you’re down by 26 points! Loss of words…
Pittsburgh came back on offense with 6:15 in the third quarter down 29-0, starting with another McCloud screen being batted down incomplete. Second and ten was another high snap from Green, then bobbled handoff to Harris but great blocks from Turner, Okorafor, Gentry, and Johnson to spring him for the eight-yard gain. Third and two now, with Harris showing amazing effort after Moore and Green ended up on the ground to duck and spin out of the tackle behind the line and push forward for the impressive three-yard run!
The following first down was a greatly needed explosive pass despite another high snap from Green, Roethlisberger found Washington who ran and out and up and fighting over the defender to make an impressive contested catch on the gain of 29! Green had another slightly high snap here where Roethlisberger found McCloud on the out route on the move for five yards. On second and five, a third consecutive snap issue that Roethlisberger bobbled in the air but able to secure it and get the pass to McCloud, but Okorafor was penalized for ineligible downfield setting up second and ten. Washington got the screen pass here but McCloud couldn’t get the block from the slot in time with the defender reacting quickly for a loss of two, but then being penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct standing over Washington setting up first down.
The drive continued with a Harris nice 11-yard run with Freiermuth and Johnson getting good blocks to spring him to the outside! This set up first and ten in the red zone, play actioning then getting the quick out to Washington plus yards after catch and inside the five-yard line! On second and two, Roethlisberger took ANOTHER Green high snap and found Johnson on a good back shoulder throw but dropped, setting up third and two. Roethlisberger found Harris in the flat here for a good throw and catch for the first Pittsburgh touchdown of the game! No shutout tonight, but Steelers down 22 points.
Pittsburgh’s offense returned right away after the defense’s interception, with a great Harris run for 13 yards behind good blocks from Turner, Green, and Leglue. The following first down Harris unfortunately slipped trying to cut but was able to get up and avoid a loss on the gain of one. On second and nine, Roethlisberger targeted Claypool in tight coverage incomplete and noted Johnson open on the other side. Third and nine Minnesota was penalized for offsides, setting up a more manageable third and four. Roethlisberger lobbed it up to Claypool, who made a great contested catch over the defender for the 14-yard gain and big conversion. This also set Pittsburgh up in the red zone, on first and goal McCloud got the slot screen but only gained one yard with the defender reacting quickly.
The drive continued to start the third quarter, on second and goal Roethlisberger had to step up in the pocket due to Green and Turner being pushed back and fired to Johnson in the back of the end zone, but unfortunately a little high and off his hands, another miscue between the two with a chance to score. Johnson was the target again on third and goal and the defender was called for pass interference, a big penalty setting up first and goal from the one. Harris got the carry here and waltzed in for his second touchdown behind good blocks from Leglue and Freiermuth to cut the deficit to 15! Encouraging signs of life with two quick scores and nearly a whole quarter left!
With 13:17 left in the game the offense returned off the defenses three and out with a Harris run lacking room, so he bounced outside gaining only two yards. On second and eight, Roethlisberger found Johnson deep down the sideline, having to slow down a bit and making the catch despite the defender not getting his head around and being called for the pass interference on the excellent 36-yard explosive play! Roethlisberger then dialed up another deep pass, this time over the middle to Washington who made a fantastic contested catch in double coverage for the touchdown! Awesome job with two explosive plays and another quick touchdown! Pittsburgh elected to go for two here, but didn’t love the call of a screen play here, failing with several defenders in the area. Steelers down by nine.
The offense returned with 10:51 on the clock and allowed touchdown by the defense down by 16, and Harris got the carry for three yards, waiting patiently behind a mediocre push from the line. On second and seven, Harris carried again slithering between Green and Turner along with good collective blocks on the gain of six. Third and one now, and surprisingly Harris got a third consecutive carry that went for a loss of two with Freiermuth losing his block allowing the tackle. Didn’t like the three straight runs here with the deficit and time left. On fourth and three Green had another late snap resulting in a delay of game, and really struggled in the game. This resulted in fourth and eight, where Pittsburgh decided to punt, still down by 16!
4:58 now off the interception, and Roethlisberger finds McCloud for six yards on the drag route and nice cut for yards after catch. On second and four from the red zone, Freiermuth ran an out route where the defender fell down for the easy pitch and catch for another quick score! The two-point conversion was a nice pump fake then trigger to Johnson over the middle good! What a fourth quarter comeback, with the deficit only eight and a one possession game now!
With 2:16 left in the game the Steelers offense has a chance to come back down by only eight now, and on first down from their own four-yard line, Harris ran a quick out and made a great catch fully extending his arms on the grab for six yards. On second and four, Roethlisberger targeted Claypool deep for an amazing contested catch for 38 yards despite the pass interference! Wow! Pittsburgh was penalized for a block in the back on Leglue here, setting up first and 18. Roethlisberger got the pass to Harris behind the line, spinning out of one tackle but only able to gain one yard. On second and 17 Roethlisberger connected with Claypool again, this time over the middle on the 14-yard grab! Third and four now, and Roethlisberger quick triggered with Leglue getting pushed back to McCloud on the short double move but didn’t fool the defender on the tackle for 3 yards just short of the sticks. This set up a monumental fourth and one, with a play action to Harris and quick slant to Claypool for the first down and gain of nine!
With no timeouts Roethlisberger spiked the ball with 26 seconds left. On second and ten McCloud caught the drag route with plenty of room to run and get out of bounds for ten yards! With 16 seconds left, Roethlisberger went deep for Washington, but the safety nearly got the interception, instead falling incomplete. On second and ten with 11 seconds left, Johnson got the catch over the middle and luckily broke a tackle to get out of bounds and stop the clock. With 3 seconds left and in the red zone, Roethlisberger threaded a laser between three defenders to Freiermuth, who had the catch in his hands but took a big hit from two of those defenders dislodging the ball on the final play and nearly historic comeback! So close and valiant effort, but the horrendous first half was too much to overcome.
Now for the defense:
Safety Miles Killebrew tops the PFF grades at 90.5 on limited snaps, with cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon a close 89.5 and a more impressive snap count and two interception game! The other 70+ grades include defensive lineman Cameron Heyward, linebacker Alex Highsmith (left game early), defensive lineman Montravius Adams, and linebacker Taco Charlton. The below 50 grades are highlighted by cornerback Cameron Sutton, along with several others at the bottom left of the graph.
Pittsburgh’s defense came onto the field to start the game, on first down Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins came out passing to his favorite target wide receiver Justin Jefferson on an out route with Witherspoon in coverage and pushing him out on the gain of eight. On second and two Jefferson got his second catch on a screen for four yards with Witherspoon pushing him out again from off coverage setting up first down. Minnesota running back Dalvin Cook got his first carry here, and on his first attempt gets an explosive 20-yard run where linebacker Devin Bush was in the hole, but the pulling fullback washed him out and linebacker Joe Schobert missed a tackle, with linebacker Derrek Tuszka and safety Minkah Fitzpatrick finally making the combined tackle.
The following first down was the second carry on a similar look with linebacker T.J. Watt able to throw his blocker to the ground and get to Cook’s legs but kept churning where Bush combined for the tackle on the gain of four. On second and six, Cousins went playaction with Highsmith nearly getting to him on the deep pass to Jefferson, who was double covered by Sutton and Fitzpatrick but nearly made an incredible touchdown catch, instead falling incomplete. Minnesota then had a delay of game penalty on third and six. Third and 11 now, and Cousins found wide receiver K.J. Osborn (WR2 with Adam Thielen out) for a gain of eight where Witherspoon clicked and closed to make the tackle and third down stop! The long field goal was missed leaving the scoreboard empty.
With 5:32 in the first quarter, Sutton reacted extremely well to a Jefferson motion and screen pass to break it up for the incompletion on first down. On second down Jefferson went in motion from the backfield, a good design where Sutton traveled with him taking him out of the gap leaving a gaping hole where the Cook handoff went, and Marcus Allen couldn’t get there from the weak side linebacker position with safety Terrell Edmunds on the tackle but allowing another huge explosive run of 30 yards! The following first down was another big run for 14 yards, an inside toss where Schobert shot upfield but blocked out and Edmunds had an opportunity with Sutton eventually pushing him out.
Another first down here and now in the red zone, and this run was stopped for only three yards with Watt cutting off the angle, turning it back into traffic where defensive lineman Chris Wormley and Schobert stood him up. On second and seven Minnesota used play action which sucked up the linebackers and ran crossing routes to get separation, and despite Heyward nearly getting to Cousins gets a nice throw off to Jefferson for the easy touchdown with Sutton in coverage! The kicking issues continued with the extra point being missed, Steelers down by six.
After Pittsburgh’s offense went three and out, the defense returned quickly with 1:45 left in the quarter to a pass play where Jefferson ran a post route on Sutton getting great separation and yards after catch for 18 yards! First down again, and Minnesota went back to Cook on the ground with Schobert and linebacker Taco Charlton biting on the post handoff reverse, but good job by Bush to shoot through traffic and limit the run for three yards on the tackle. On second and seven, Minnesota’s offensive line did a great job blocking a stretch run by Cook, where Watt couldn’t get off his block, Wormley dove to no avail, and both Schobert and Edmunds on the edge which allowed the cutback to the second level and gain of 16 where Fitzpatrick made the tackle.
The drive continued to start the second quarter in the red zone, where Cousins targeted the back short with Bush in coverage on a nice pass break up! On second and ten, Watt provided good pressure hitting Cousins on the short pass to Cook with Schobert in tight coverage to pressure the incompletion! Third and ten now, and Wormley provided a good inside move and hand usage to get another hit on Cousins pass attempt to Jefferson in the end zone, going off his hand for the third straight incompletion with cornerback Justin Layne in coverage. Amazed Minnesota didn’t run in the red zone, good job holding them to a field goal, Steelers down by nine.
The defense came back quick again following another three and out at 13:01 to another crossing route targeting Jefferson, despite Highsmith nearly getting to Cousins completes the pass with Witherspoon in coverage and Sutton coming off his man to make the tackle but big gain of 22! The following first down was another Cook toss, with Bush over pursuing his gap and allowing the cutback into another huge hole for 15 yards with Fitzpatrick on the tackle and livid at his teammates. Minnesota was then penalized for a hold setting up first and 20.
Cousins was able to get most of the yards here on an in route to the tight end, who got good separation and yards after catch on Bush who eventually made the tackle but a 19-yard gain! On second and one, Bush did a good job getting around the blocker on the running play to combine for the tackle with defensive lineman Isaiahh Loudermilk on the gain of three but allowing a first down! Minnesota stayed on the ground here, and Cook started inside getting Watt to commit, then made a great cut outside also making Edmunds slip clearing an easy path on the edge for the touchdown! Four of five plays of 15+ yards, terrible defensive drive, Steelers down by 16!
After another offensive three and out, the defense returned with 7:39 with a great pass break up in coverage on Osborn. On second and ten, Cook got another carry where Highsmith gave up the edge and Schobert missed a tackle on the nine-yard gain where Edmunds made the tackle. Third and one now, and Cousins play actioned then threw a wobbly deep pass to Jefferson that was luckily high with Sutton in coverage forcing fourth down. Watt left the game on this play and would not return, and Minnesota elected to go for it near the 50-yard line with Cousins quarterback sneaking and Wormley, Tuszka, and defensive lineman Henry Mondeaux getting pushed back allowing 3 yards and the back breaking conversion!
The following first down Loudermilk held the point of attack well and Wormley worked down the line for the tackle, limiting the Cook run to three yards. On second and seven, Sutton was late to react to a stop route by the tight end allowing a 17-yard gain with Bush and Schobert on the tackle. Heyward made a great play splitting the double team on first down, making the tackle on the Cook run for no gain! On second and ten, Cousins targeted Osborn deep, but the latter ran a short route on the miscommunication setting up third and ten. Osborn got another target here, playing physical and working inside for the catch with Layne in coverage and combining with Allen on the tackle.
This set up first down in the red zone, where Cook got the carry where Loudermilk clogged the lane along with Schobert, who combined on the tackle with Bush for only one yard! On second and nine Heyward missed an opportunity in the backfield on another Cook run, eluding and gaining seven yards where Schobert made the tackle. Third and two now, and Cook got his third consecutive carry where Heyward and especially Bush got caught inside along with Witherspoon blocked by the pulling lineman allowing another easy and consecutive touchdown run! Things are feeling dire at this point, Pittsburgh down 23-0!
The final possession of the half for the defense began with a Jefferson screen pass that Sutton recognized and made a great play for the tackle and no gain! On second and ten, Cousins targeted Osborn but threw way behind him with Witherspoon in coverage. Third and ten now, and Cook got the handoff Adams being sealed allowing running room and cornerback Tre Norwood making a first down saving tackle on the gain of eight. This forced Minnesota’s first punt by former Steeler Jordan Berry! What a terrible first half, allowing 300 yards to the Vikings down 23.
The first defensive possession of the second half began with 12:25, a quick route to the flat by the tight end for one yard with Killebrew on the tackle. On second and nine, Cook got the toss where Highsmith lost the edge, Sutton was blocked to the ground, and Bush making the tackle after a gain of eight! Third and one now, and another run play with Highsmith and Bush unable to get off their blocks and Edmunds making the hit near the sticks but yards after contact brought the gain to five, first down and in the red zone.
The following first down was a Jefferson screen pass where Highsmith pushed his blocker back to make the tackle along with Heyward on the loss of four! On second and 14 Highsmith went out of the game and wouldn’t return, and Cousins targeted Cook on the sideline but seemingly let up his effort with Edmunds pursuing in coverage. Third and 14 now, and Charlton was able to get to Cousins effecting the throw falling incomplete. Finally a third down stop, but field goal allowed, Steelers down by 26!
The defense had to return quickly off the interception yet again at 8:22 to a toss run to Cook for seven yards where Schobert missing a tackle with Loudermilk and Fitzpatrick making the tackle on the gain of seven. Cook carried again on second and three through a gigantic hole with Loudermilk and Schobert getting pushed back, Witherspoon missing the angle, Maulet missing a tackle with Schobert finally pushing him out of bounds. This set Minnesota up in the red zone, where Cousins targeted Osborn in the end zone, but Fitzpatrick was called for unnecessary roughness on a hard hit that looked bad but seemed clean on replay and a questionable call, setting them up on the four-yard line. On first and goal the handoff went to Cook with Adams swimming cleanly around the center to blow the play up for an excellent three-yard loss! Jefferson was the target on second and goal, a miscommunication/off target throw falling short of the receiver. Third and goal now, and Charlton provided pressure on the second straight Jefferson target, and Pittsburgh got lucky that it was incomplete with Witherspoon turned around in coverage but getting the pass breakup. Thankfully the defense keeps Minnesota out of the end zone, with the field goal the score is a discouraging 29-0.
With 2:11 in the third quarter, the defense returned following the offenses first touchdown trailing by 22, and Cousins targeted Jefferson, and Bush was there to make a great play tipping the ball, bouncing off Jeffersons hands, and Witherspoon capitalizing with the interception on the first play! Encouraging defensive improvements in the third quarter, no touchdowns, a takeaway, and getting the ball right back to the offense!
With 14:49 left in the game, the defense returned with the deficit cut to 15 to a Cook toss and Charlton making just enough contact to trip him up on the five-yard gain. On second and five, Cook ran again with Heyward pushing the blocker back and blowing up the play for a loss of two! Third and seven now, Adams got there to hit Cousins on the throw to Jefferson where Fitzpatrick made the hit forcing the incompletion and crucial three and out for the defense! Great momentum to fuel the chances of a comeback!
The defense returned quick off the quick Washington touchdown, with Cook getting the carry and cutting back past Charlton who lost the edge with Fitzpatrick on the tackle on the eight-yard gain. On second and two, Cook ran again for a five-yard gain and first down with Adams being double teamed and Heyward and Charlton combining for the tackle. On first down, Cousins play actioned, then targeted Osborn from a clean pocket deep in single coverage by Sutton, with hand fighting but able to make the catch for the gut-wrenching touchdown. Vikings get a quick answer score of their own, Steelers deficit is 16 now.
Pittsburgh’s defense came back with 8:56 left in the game still down by 16, and stopped the Cook run for a short gain of three with Bush and Charlton on the tackle. On second and seven Heyward and Adams pursued Cook well on another run for only one yard. Third and five now, and Cousins slipped between Heyward who was bearing down and Charlton to escape the pocket and scramble into open field and pick up an infuriating first down when we really needed a stop! Cook got the first down carry for only two yards where Wormley missed an opportunity with Tuszka and Heyward making the tackle. On second and eight, Cook ran again to run the clock gaining four yards where Mondeaux worked down of his block and made the tackle. Huge third and four now, where Witherspoon won the physicality battle against Osborn, who lost his balance leading to his second interception and good run back keeping Pittsburgh alive!
Coming back after two plays and a score by the offense with 4:14 left, Cook got the carry on first down but was stopped by Killebrew and Edmunds behind the line for a loss of one! On second and 11 Charlton got good bend around the edge to hit Cousins despite the holding penalty that set up second and 21. Cousins targeted Jefferson here, but well short of the sticks with Maulet in coverage and the quick tackle. Third and nine now, where Cousins found Cook who got past Allen over the middle for the catch and run for 17 yards and a heartbreaking first down! On first and ten Schobert shot quickly into the gap to make the tackle on the run for no gain! The following run went for a gain of two with Witherspoon flying in to set the edge on the tackle. Third and eight now, and Cousins targeted Osborn on a big third down where Fitzpatrick anticipated the out route after Maulet came on the blitz resulting in the incompletion and third down stop! Great stand here to get the ball back giving the offense a chance!
Last let’s look at special teams:
Ulysees Gilbert highlights the PFF grades at 80.9, the only player above a 70 grade! There are some overlaps in the middle left of the graph, but this highlights Kalen Ballage’s lowest grade of 41.1, along with below 50 grades from Tuszka, Layne, and Killebrew.
Boswell missed his first and only field goal attempt to close the first drive from 49 yards out. Pressley Harvin’s first punt came with 1:55 in the first quarter, going 40 yards to the 27-yard line and returned 16 yards with Tuszka dove and missed and Ulysees Gilbert making the tackle. With 13:11 in the second quarter, Harvin’s second punt was a stronger 49 yarder to the 32-yard line with a return of ten yards, but Minnesota was penalized ten yards on a hold, with Buddy Johnson making the tackle. Minnesota was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct, forcing the kickoff from the 20-yard line with 9:55 in the second quarter, going to the 11-yard line where McCloud had a 23-yard return, but Snell was also penalized 15 yards for an illegal block. Harvin’s next punt was a 45 yarder that went out of bounds at the 40-yard line. Harvin’s next punt came with 1:42 left in the half, a good 49 yarder to the 12-yard line that was fair caught.
McCloud returned the opening kickoff to start the second half from the end zone making a few nice cuts for 33 yards, but Killebrew was penalized for holding bringing the offense back to the 12-yard line. Harvin’s first punt of the second half was a low and short 41 yarder returned 15 yards with Layne and James Pierre missing tackles before Watt made the tackle. McCloud had a poor return from the end zone at 9:36 from the end zone, only gaining 15 yards with Buddy Johnson missing his block. McCloud’s next punt return came after the Steelers cut the deficit to 15 with 13:28 left in the game, fielding it off the bounce at the 23-yard line with an eight-yard return. Harvin had a terrible punt with 9:02 left in the game, a 34 yarder to the 39-yard line going out of bounds. With 2:26 left in the game, McCloud let the punt bounce allowing Minnesota to down it at the four-yard line.
STEELERS VS. VIKINGS WEEK 14 SNAPS AND SEASON TOTALS:
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