The Vikings and Steelers, two of the NFL’s storied franchises, met in the seventh International Series game on Sunday and played in front of a packed house at Wembley Stadium in London. The two teams put on quite a show, combining for 827 yards of offense and 61 points in a game that wasn’t decided until the final moments. The Vikings came away with a 34-27 victory, and will depart London on Monday morning with an extra bounce in their step as they enjoy an early bye before taking on the rest of their 2013 schedule.
So what went right for the Vikings in the victory? Here are a few ideas…
Big players made big plays
In a game they had to have, some of the Vikings biggest players came up huge. It starts with reigning MVP
Three other stars who made their mark on the game were defensive end
There were many other individual performances worth noting, from backup quarterback
Tough in the trenches
It was a high-scoring, flashy game played on a grand stage at London’s Wembley Stadium, but the tempo of this game was set by the boys who spend their time out of the limelight and inside the trenches, and it was set by the Vikings on both sides of the ball.
This was the best performance the Vikings offensive line has authored in 2013, as they paved the way for Peterson to average 6.1 yards per rush and score twice on the ground. Additionally, the offensive line allowed just one sack and no other quarterback hits, providing Cassel with a clean pocket for much of the night, and Steelers defensive lineman accounted for just six of the team’s 41 tackles.
The Vikings defensive line pestered Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger all night, sacking him five times and knocking him to the ground on at least another five occasions. Allen dominated his matchup with Pittsburgh left tackle Mike Adams all night and had 2.5 sacks to show for it. Others who got in on the mix vs. Roethlisberger were Greenway (1.0 sack), Griffen (1.0) and
Solid play from the QB
A rib injury to
For the day, Cassel was 16 of 25 for 248 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions and just one sack. Simpson was his favorite target with seven receptions and 124 yards on 11 targets, and for the night Cassel found seven different receivers, averaged 9.9 yards per attempt, had a passer rating of 123.4 and was generally smart with the ball and technically sound. That type of play from the quarterback position, particularly the early production Cassel generated, makes Peterson and the Vikings ground game even more lethal.
It’s cliché to point to turnovers when analyzing or predicting a game, and it’s not always accurate, either. In fact, the Vikings have won the turnover battle the last two weeks and lost both games. But on Sunday, this variable finally lined up properly for the Vikings, as they were 2 in the turnover battle and won the game. The Vikings didn’t turn the ball over once, thus they didn’t give the Steelers offense many short fields.
The first turnover of the game was Greenway’s interception in the 3rd quarter. The Vikings took over on the Pittsburgh 37 and scored in two plays, finding the end zone on the Cassel-to-Jennings laser I described above. The second turnover clinched the win for the Vikings, as Griffen closed in on Roethlisberger and jarred the ball loose to end the Steelers hopes of scoring the game-tying touchdown.