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The Thursday night matchup between the Minnesota Vikings and Pittsburgh Steelers appeared as a convincingly dominant performance by the Vikings for three quarters — up 29-0 late in the third.
Minnesota went on to win 36-28, but a 21-point fourth quarter by the Steelers put Ben Roethlisberger and the offense in arm’s reach of tying the game and sending things into overtime against a lethargic opponent. The Vikings’ early lead proved to be a fib as the night turned ugly for Mike Zimmer, Kirk Cousins and the rest of the Vikings team.
Things got going late as the Pittsburgh offense rallied and relieved some pressure from their defensive unit.
For the Steelers defense, losing defensive end TJ Watt for the entirety of the second half due to a groin injury gave Pittsburgh’s D-line little hope of slowing down the injured, albeit exceptional, Dalvin Cook.
Cook totaled 27 carries, 205 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Quarterback Kirk Cousins had a night to forget with 14 of 31 passes completed, 216 passing yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Roethlisberger completed 28 of 40 passing, throwing for 308 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. Rookie Najee Harris had a solid effort with 20 carries, 94 rushing yards and a touchdown.
Pittsburgh’s lead receiving trio of Chase Claypool (93), Diontae Johnson (76) and James Washington (65) ended with an impressive outing (sans a costly flag on Claypool) — drawing key pass interference call in the fourth and getting themselves open for a struggling Roethlisberger to locate.
All night, Roethlisberger took a beating against Minnesota’s defense, getting sacked five times including a brutal hit from safety Harrison Smith that nearly knocked Ben out in the second quarter.
In the final minutes, down eight points, the Steelers marched down to Minnesota’s 12 and chewed up the clock until there were three seconds left. Looking at a final shot the end zone, Big Ben tossed an immaculate pass that landed in the hands of tight end Pat Freiermuth amid tight coverage, until the pass was ultimately dropped.
The Minnesota sideline exhaled out of relief after a tight finish Thursday night. The Vikings inched closer to .500 (6-7) with the win, and Pittsburgh fell to 6-6-1 on the year.
Follow along on Twitter: @AlejandroAveela