Week 7 Recap: Snatching Victory From Defeat

The Pittsburgh Steelers handed the Minnesota Vikings their first defeat of the season with an incredible 27-17 victory. That sentence may seem self-explanatory but it doesn’t even begin to cover what happened. In all my years of watching football, I don’t remember a crazier fifteen minutes of football than what occurred in the fourth quarter. Even for a team which seems to make a habit of the thrilling last second comeback, this one will be remembered by Steeler Nation for a long long time.

Things went well for the Steelers in the early going. Adrian Peterson was held to negative yardage in the first quarter, a first for him. He finished the game with only 69 yards (although he did have another 60 on catches), which is an accomplishment for any defense, let alone one playing without their best run-stopper. They ran right at Travis Kirschke on several occasions and he held his ground, while our linebackers attacked him like a Kit Kat bar at a Jenny Craig meeting.

The first quarter was a punt-fest which the Steelers got the better of thanks to a Mitch Berger impression by the Vikings’ punter. Mike Wallace had a 10 yard catch and then a 13 yard reverse to set the Steelers up at the Vikings thirteen yard line. Ben Roethlisberger, who was a fairly mediocre 14/26 for 175 yards, hit Santonio Holmes for a TD.

Unfortunately, the score was negated by a pass interference penalty against Heath Miller. Evidently, you can interfere with a pass that you not only didn’t catch but was thrown to another receiver 15 yards away. I understand you’re not allowed to run into DBs to prevent them from covering their man. However, it looked to me like the two, yes TWO, DBs Heath ran over bumped into each other first. And there’s still the little fact they were FIFTEEN YARDS AWAY FROM THE PLAY!

The Steelers settled for a FG. After more punts, the Vikings began a methodical drive down the field featuring a 28 yard pass to Percy Harvin and capped by a Peterson blast.  With 1:39 left in the half, the Vikes went to some soft zone type defense and Big Ben methodically picked them apart. A 22 yard pass to super-rookie Wallace (Who deserves a cool nickname. Suggestions please.) was followed up with a 40 yard bomb for a TD. Black and Gold up 10-7 at halftime.

The third quarter saw an exchange of FGs.   The Steelers wasted a great opportunity to score a knockout blow with a first and goal from the Minny 8. Three consecutive pass plays resulted in a near INT, a busted play, and an incompletion. This team leaves the barn door open more often than Matt Spaeth after an all-night bender.

Then came the unbelievable fourth quarter. The Steelers drove downfield, mixing pass and run quite effectively. First down at the Minnesota 9 and it appeared they were finally going to club that baby seal.  A hand-off to Rashard Mendenhall and…and…

…and what the f*#k happened?? I saw what happened but can’t quite believe it. In over two decades of watching football, I’ve never seen a dumber play. Mendenhall launched himself skyward, unfortunately failing to take the ball with him. The Vikes pounced on his horrendous fumble while I literally screamed at my television. Rashard, you see, attempted what looked like perfect goal line dive.  Problem was, he jumped from the SEVEN YARD LINE!! Does he think he’s Michael Jordan!? Who attempts an endzone dive from SEVEN FREAKIN’ YARDS AWAY?!?

Predictably, Brett Favre took this gift and marched the Vikes right down the field. Our secondary fell apart as Troy Polamalu was way out of position several times and they picked on Will.i.am Gay mercilessly all game long. To make matters worse, Kirschke and Lawrence Timmons both left the game with injuries during the drive.  In Timmons’ case, that would come back to haunt the Vikings later, much like the movie Paranormal Activity haunts my dreams on a nightly basis.  A tripping call on Minnesota nullified a TD pass to Sidney Rice, momentarily saving the Steelers from yet another 4th quarter choke.

Still, with a third and 8 from the Steelers 8, it looked like the Vikes would get the tying FG. Then Brett Keisel darted up the middle and swatted the ball out of Favre’s mitts. Mister Woodley rescued the pigskin from the evil clutches of Captain Wrangler and a whole convoy of Steelers escorted him 77 yards the other way for a TD.

To say everybody was excited is like saying Megan Fox kinda looks like a stripper.  Even Dick LeBeau was celebrating!  Steeler nation was excited.  Heinz Field was rocking. I was doing my patented Snoopy Dance of Joy.

Then we kicked off.

Percy Harvin took the ball and without the slightest hesitation streaked the other way for an 88 yard TD. He was barely touched. And I never EVER want to hear how kickers are football players again because Skippy Reed‘s attempt to “tackle” him was laughable. After apologizing to Steeler Nation this week, you’d think he’d at least try to make up by throwing his body at Harvin. Instead he just gave him a dainty little push like he was afraid to break a nail.  Way to go, dipshit.

The Steelers got the ball back and at this point I was just hoping we could somehow run out the clock.  Naturally, Bruce Arians answers my prayers by dialing up a SHOTGUN PASS.  This ends in epic failure as Ben gets the ball stripped and the Steelers are lucky to swat it out of bounds.  Which left Brett Favre with the ball, down 3, with three minutes left. In other words, exactly where we didn’t want to be.

And Favre immediately makes our nightmares come true by leading his team down the field.  The key play here was Purple Jesus SMITING William Gay on a short dump pass before rumbling 30 yards. Minnesota had the ball at the Steelers 19 and at this point I was just hoping for OT. Then Favre floated a screen pass to Chester Taylor who got his fingertips on it enough to deflect it into the waiting hands of Keyaron Fox. Fox was escorted 82 yards for the second thrilling defensive TD in the quarter.

I don’t know what else to say about this one.  We played a legitimate Super Bowl contender and held them to one offensive TD.  We also squandered several chances to put the game away on offense, continuing the disturbing trend of not finishing teams when they have the chance.  On the other hand, our defense playing without three starters had four sacks, a ton of pressures, held the league’s best RB pretty much in check, and scored two TDs.  Sure our secondary isn’t nearly as good as it was last year but this was the first time I felt our defense matched 2008’s level.  And we all know how last year ended.  If the Steelers could figure out how to stop sabotaging their efforts with dumb mistakes on offense and special teams, this team would really be dangerous.

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