In what would have been a bad case of déjà vu, the game came all the way down to the last minute. But unlike last week the defense was able to hold Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers to win, (yes win) the game 34-27 and leave Wembley Stadium 1-4.
Today was Matt Cassel’s first day on the job, and boy was his first day a hit. His playmaking was just what the Vikings desperately needed while Adrian Peterson showed British fans why he is one of the best.
Peterson’s 60-yard touchdown run and Cassel’s 70-yard scoring strike to Greg Jennings were some of the big plays the Vikings used Sunday.
Peterson was held for 17 yards on his first six attempts, but exploded on the first play of the second quarter.
Following the lead blocks of fullback Jerome Felton and wide receiver Joe Webb, Peterson hurdled Ike Taylor, stiff-armed Lawrence Timmons and made two more Steelers defenders miss before outracing Ryan Clark to the end zone for his longest run since a 78-yard touchdown run on the first play of the season at Detroit.
Cassel, starting in place of injured Christian Ponder, completed his first two passes for the Vikings, first-down strikes to Jerome Simpson. Later on the opening drive he took a downfield shot at Cordarrelle Patterson in the end zone that ended in an incompletion.
He found a reliable target in Simpson, who caught four passes for 52 yards and recovered a Cassel fumble near midfield to extend their final field goal drive at the end of the second quarter.
Cassel hit Jennings near the far sideline and the receiver snaked through a dragnet of three defenders and ran untouched to the end zone for his longest reception since a 79-yarder for Green Bay against the Vikings at Lambeau Field on Oct. 23, 2011.
The Vikings’ pass rush had its best game of the season, with Jared Allen getting two sacks of his own, sharing another with Sharri Floyd, and Chad Greenway notching one on a blitz. The Vikings’ defense has always been about their pass rush getting enough pressure to mask any issues behind them. And they were finally able to successfully do that on Sunday, and with the Vikings in danger of allowing another last-minute touchdown for the third week in a row. And in the final seconds they were able to make up for last two weeks when Everson Griffen and Chad Greenway sacked Ben Roethlisberger and forced a fumble that Kevin Williams recovered.
Next week is the Vikings bye week but they head there with comfort in knowing that there is still hope for this season. The come back to Mall of America field on October 13 when they face the Carolina Panthers.