The Minnesota Vikings improved their record to 1-3 on Sunday by defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers 34-27. The game was played in London, England, where the Vikings assumed the role of the home team. The team spared no expense. They brought in the Gjallarhorn, their massive horn, to sound on first downs and sound on special occasions. They also spent several days prior to the game meeting fans from Europe and doing promotional work for the NFL and the Vikings. The game definitely felt like a home game.
The game saw Matt Cassel get the start at quarterback because of an injury to Christian Ponder’s ribs. Cassel completed 16 of his 25 passes for 248 yards and two touchdowns without a turnover. He looked poised in the pocket, showing the patience that a veteran quarterback usually has while delivering the ball accurately.
Cassel’s favorite target was Jerome Simpson. Simpson had 7 catches on 11 targets and amassed 124 yards in the Vikings win. Strangely though, Simpson didn’t score the touchdowns off Cassel’s passes. That was left to first year Viking Greg Jennings who caught 3 passes for 92 yards and two touchdowns before landing awkwardly on his leg on his last touchdown catch.
Adrian Peterson added two scores of his own on Sunday while rushing for 140 yards. Adrian got his All-Pro fullback Jerome Felton back from a three game suspension, and his return seemed to do wonders for Peterson’s ground game. While one of Peterson’s touchdowns was a spectacular display of his elusiveness, the other was a walk in touchdown that was blocked so well that there were no defenders anywhere near him.
The Vikings secondary was without starters Chris Cook and Jamarca Sanford due to injuries sustained last week. In their place, Marcus Sherels and Andrew Sendejo got the start. With an injury to cornerback A.J. Jefferson, the Vikings were extremely limited in their options for replacement.
The Vikings defense surrendered a total of 460 yards to the Steelers. Pittsburgh gained 77 yards rushing and 383 yards passing this week. Considering the injuries to the secondary, that is not too bad. Josh Robinson stepped up and led the team with 12 tackles on Sunday, beating out Chad Greenway (10 tackles), who usually leads the team in tackles.
One of the major areas of improvement for the Vikings this week was their pass rush. The team recorded five sacks and numerous hurries on Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Jared Allen looked like he returned to form this week, getting 2.5 sacks on the quarterback. Also getting in on sacks were Chad Greenway, Everson Griffen, and Sharrif Floyd.
In the closing seconds of the game, Everson Griffen sacked Roethlisberger and the ball became unsecured. Vikings defensive tackle Kevin Williams recovered the fumble and the Vikings were able to kneel out the game.