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Pittsburgh trailed 29-0 late in third quarter before mounting final-quarter comeback; Ben Roethlisber pass for Pat Freiermuth in the endzone falls incomplete as time expires; Steelers pass rusher T.J. Watt exits game with groin injury

Last Updated: 10/12/21 6:34am

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Watch the best of the action from the clash between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday Night Football

Watch the best of the action from the clash between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday Night Football

Dalvin Cook rushed for an NFL season-high of 205 yards, with two touchdowns, as the Minnesota Vikings built a 29-0 third-quarter lead before ultimately hanging on to a slim 36-28 win in the face of a late Pittsburgh Steelers comeback.

Story of the Game

Cook, who missed the Vikings’ shock loss to the then-winless Detroit Lions last week with a shoulder injury, had a superb showing on his return to action, but Minnesota nearly contrived to blow an NFL-record 29-point lead in the final 17 minutes on Thursday night.

The Vikings were absolutely dominant in the first half, outgaining their opponents 300 yards to 66, with 176 of those on the ground as Cook ran in two second-quarter scores. Justin Jefferson opened the scoring off a 14-yard touchdown pass from Kirk Cousins, after both teams had missed field goal attempts on their opening drives.

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The home side added to their 23-0 half-time advantage with a couple of Greg Joseph FGs in the the third quarter, but the Steelers suddenly and spectacularly sparked into life when Najee Harris had two TDs (one receiving, one rushing) in the space of two and a half minutes, either side of a Cousins interception.

After Minnesota then quickly went three-and-out on their next offensive series, Roethlisberger found James Washington for a 30-yard touchdown to all of a a sudden make it a nine-point game – it could have been even better but for a failed two-point conversion attempt following the TD.

Minnesota responded to the challenge in the best possible way, with Cousins finding K.J Osborn deep for a 62-yard scoring strike, but on their next possession, when looking to run out the clock and close out the game, the Vikings quarterback was picked off for a second time by Ahkello Witherspoon.

The Steelers capitalised, Roethlisberger finding Pat Freiermuth in the endzone two plays later, and this time a successful two-point try made it an eight-point game with just over four minutes remaining in the game.

The Vikings offense again would be unable to close out this game, this time punting back to Pittsburgh, who duly drove down the field looking for a potential game-tying TD and two-pointer, but Roethlisberger’s last ditch attempt to find Freiermuth again from the 12-yard line fell incomplete as time expired – Minnesota holding on for a crucial victory.

Stats leaders

Steelers

  • Passing: Ben Roethlisberger, 28/40, 308 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT
  • Rushing: Najee Harris, 20 carries, 94 yards, 1 TD (and 1 receiving TD)
  • Receiving: Chase Claypool, eight catches, 93 yards
  • Diontae Johnson, five catches, 76 yards
Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook leaps into the endzone to celebrate one of his two touchdown runs

Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook leaps into the endzone to celebrate one of his two touchdown runs

Vikings

  • Passing: Kirk Cousins, 14/31, 216 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs
  • Rushing: Dalvin Cook, 27 carries, 205 yards, 2 TDs
  • Receiving: K.J. Osborn, three catches, 83 yards, 1 TD
  • Justin Jefferson, seven catches, 79 yards, 1 TD

Scoring Summary

Scoring summary

FIRST QUARTER
Steelers 0-6 Vikings Kirk Cousins 14-yard TD pass to Justin Jefferson (failed extra point)
SECOND QUARTER
Steelers 0-9 Vikings Greg Joseph 38-yard field goal
Steelers 0-16 Vikings Dalvin Cook 29-yard TD run (extra point)
Steelers 0-23 Vikings Dalvin Cook seven-yard TD run (extra point)
THIRD QUARTER
Steelers 0-26 Vikings Greg Joseph 42-yard field goal
Steelers 0-29 Vikings Greg Joseph 25-yard field goal
Steelers 7-29 Vikings Ben Roethlisberger three-yard TD pass to Najee Harris (extra point)
FOURTH QUARTER
Steelers 14-29 Vikings Najee Harris one-yard TD run (extra point)
Steelers 20-29 Vikings Ben Roethlisberger 30-yard TD pass to James Washington (failed two-point conversion)
Steelers 20-36 Vikings Kirk Cousins 62-yard TD pass to K.J Osborn (extra point)
Steelers 28-36 Vikings Ben Roethlisberger 15-yard TD pass to Pat Freiermuth (two-point conversion)

What’s Next?

The Steelers (6-6-1) next host the Tennessee Titans (8-4) at Heinz Field in a crucial Week 15 clash in the AFC playoff race.

As for the Vikings (6-7), they’re next in action a week on Monday for an NFC North divisional meeting with the Bears (4-8) in Chicago.

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