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Early Look: Vikings Trying to Right Ship Against Steelers

EAGAN, Minn. — Trying to bounce back from back-to-back road losses, the Vikings will return to U.S. Bank Stadium to host the Steelers for Thursday Night Football.

Minnesota (5-7) is a storm-tossed ship that has survived some narrow wins and suffered some devastating losses, including four determined on the final play. Injuries have mounted quickly since the Week 8 bye.

Pittsburgh (6-5-1) has had its share of battles, too, with a three-game losing streak in Weeks 2-4 and allowing 41 in back-to-back weeks at the Chargers and Bengals after tying the Lions in Week 10. The Steelers, however, bounced back with a 20-19 victory over the Ravens by forcing an incompletion on a 2-point conversion with 12 seconds remaining.

This will be just the 19th overall meeting, but U.S. Bank Stadium will become the ninth different venue to host a game between the teams.

Look back at photos over the course of time featuring games between the Vikings and the Steelers.

Here's an Early Look at the Vikings Week 14 game against the Steelers, presented by Minnesota Eye Consultants, the Official LASIK partner of the Minnesota Vikings.

STAT OF THE WEEK

577 yards

Justin Jefferson has just completed the most prolific four-game stretch for receiving yards in Vikings history.

Jefferson recorded career highs of 11 catches and 182 yards on Sunday to give him 577 yards in his past four games.

1. Jefferson 577 (143 at Chargers, 169 vs. Packers, 83 at 49ers, 182 at Lions)

2. Sidney Rice 553 in 2009 (176 vs. Ravens, 136 at Steelers, 40 at Packers, 201 vs. Lions)

3. Cris Carter 537 in 1999 (144 at Broncos, 116 vs. Cowboys, 141 at Bears, 136 vs. Chargers)

4. Randy Moss 529 in 2003 (172 vs. 49ers, 81 at Falcons, 151 vs. Broncos, 125 vs. Giants)

NORSEMAN NOTES

Justin Jefferson tied Isaac Bruce for the most games with 160-plus receiving yards in a player's first two seasons (four games).

Jefferson recorded his 12th career game with 100 receiving yards, which ranks second among all players in their first two NFL seasons. Odell Beckham, Jr., set the record with 15.

He now has 2,609 receiving yards, which trails only Beckham (2,755) and Randy Moss (2,726) in a player's first two seasons.

Kirk Cousins has thrown for 300-plus yards, at least two touchdowns and no interceptions in five games this season, the most in the NFL.

Tyler Conklin tied his career high with seven receptions on Sunday. He has posted at least 50 receiving yards in four separate games.

Blake Lynch recorded the first two sacks of his career. He completed the "trifecta" on his second sack by forcing and recovering a fumble to position Minnesota for a go-ahead score.

D.J. Wonnum tallied his third sack of the season to match his 2020 rookie season total. His takedown of Jared Goff was the fastest of Week 13.

Nick Vigil recorded 15 tackles against Detroit, nearing his career high of 17 against Pittsburgh while with Cincinnati in 2016.

KNOW THE FOE

Head Coach: Mike Tomlin, 15th season with Steelers (151-83-2 in regular season, 8-8 in playoff games)

Ben Roethlisberger has completed 269 of 415 passes for 2,758 yards with 16 touchdowns and six interceptions. His passer rating of 90.6 is not too shy of his career mark of 93.8. He's 162-79-1 in 242 career starts.

Najee Harris, the 24th overall pick of 2021, leads the Steelers with 779 rushing yards on 217 carries. He has scored five of Pittsburgh's seven rushing touchdowns this season. Harris also ranks second on the team with 57 receptions and has totaled 387 yards and two scores on passes.

Diontae Johnson is 10 yards shy of a new career high. The 2019 third-round pick has 914 and six touchdowns on 76 catches.

Rookie tight end Pat Freiermuth, a second-round selection, has caught 43 passes for 353 yards and six touchdowns.

Receiver Chase Claypool remains a big-play threat with an average of 16.9 yards (660 on 39) but has just one touchdown on the year.

The Steelers have recorded 37 sacks, including 16 by outside linebacker T.J. Watt. The team total is 1.0 more than Minnesota for the most in the NFL this season.

Minkah Fitzpatrick recorded his second interception of 2021 on Sunday against the Ravens. He has 13 in his career, including one at U.S. Bank Stadium as a member of the Dolphins in 2018.

View photos of Vikings players' custom cleats in honor of the NFL's 2021 My Cause My Cleats initiative that allows players to express their commitment to causes that are important to them.

CONNECTIONS

VIKINGS-STEELERS

Pittsburgh Head Coach Mike Tomlin was defensive coordinator of the Vikings in 2006 before his hire by the Steelers in 2007.

Steelers defensive line coach Karl Dunbar coached for the Vikings from 2006-11.

Vikings punter Jordan Berry was with the Steelers from 2015-20, appearing in 91 games.

LOCAL CONNECTIONS

Steelers C J.C. Hassenauer (Woodbury) and T Joe Haeg (Lake Shore) are from Minnesota.

FORMER PRO TEAMMATES

Vikings LB Nick Vigil with Steelers RB Kalen Ballage and G Trai Turner with the Chargers in 2020

Minnesota S Xavier Woods and Pittsburgh OLB Taco Charlton with the Cowboys

Vikings DT Sheldon Richardson and Steelers LB Joe Schobert with the Browns; Schobert and Vikings WR Dede Westbrook with the Jaguars

Minnesota DT Michael Pierce and Pittsburgh DE Chris Wormley with Baltimore

WRs Justin Jefferson and K.J. Osborn showcase the team's Primetime Purple uniforms, which will be worn on Thursday Night Football against the Steelers on Dec. 9.

FORMER COLLEGE TEAMMATES

Vikings DT Dalvin Tomlinson and Steelers S Minkah Fitzpatrick at Alabama

Minnesota CB Mackensie Alexander and Pittsburgh WR Ray-Ray McCloud at Clemson

Vikings K Greg Joseph and Steelers CB James Pierre at Florida Atlantic

Minnesota C Mason Cole and S Josh Metellus with Pittsburgh LB Devin Bush, Charlton, TE Zach Gentry and Wormley at Michigan

Vikings G Wyatt Davis and Steelers QB Dwayne Haskins at Ohio State

Minnesota LB Troy Dye and Pittsburgh DT Henry Mondeaux at Oregon

Vikings WR Dan Chisena and Steelers TE Pat Freiermuth at Penn State

Minnesota QB Kellen Mond at Texas A&M with Pittsburgh LB Buddy Johnson and T Dan Moore, Jr.

Vikings LB Ryan Connelly and Steelers DE Isaiahh Loudermilk at Wisconsin (2017-18); Connelly with Schobert, Steelers FB Derek Watt and OLB T.J. Watt at Wisconsin (2015)

VIKINGS TOP PERFORMERS VS. STEELERS

CAREER TOTALS

Offense

Kirk Cousins: 1 game (1 start with Washington), 0-1 as a starter; 30-of-43 passing, 69.8 completion percentage, 329 passing yards, 0 TDs, 2 INT, 72.7 passer rating

Adam Thielen: 1 game; 5 receptions for 44 yards

Defense

Nick Vigil: 7 games with Cincinnati (5 starts); 48 tackles, 1 FF, 3 TFL

Mackensie Alexander: 3 games (2 starts with Cincinnati); 11 tackles, 1 INT, 2 passes defended

(tackles are league stats)

VIKINGS BIG DAYS VS. STEELERS

C.J. Ham: recorded first career touchdown on a 1-yard run at Pittsburgh in 2017

Alexander: 6 tackles, 1 INT, 2 passes defended with Cincinnati in 2020

Bashaud Breeland: recorded nine tackles and one interception while with Washington in 2016

VIKINGS-STEELERS SERIES NOTES

1. The Vikings have a 9-9 record against the Steelers, a series that began in Minnesota's second season with a 39-31 win by Pittsburgh. Fran Tarkenton threw four touchdowns, but the Steelers rushed for 212 yards and four scores.

2. The teams have played at Forbes Field (1962), Metropolitan Stadium (1964 and 1969), Pitt Stadium (1967), Three Rivers Stadium (1972, 1983, 1989, 1992 and 1995), Tulane Stadium (Super Bowl IX), the Metrodome (1986 and 2005), Heinz Field (2001, 2009 and 2017) and Wembley Stadium (2013).

3. The 1969 contest, which the Vikings won 52-14, included a 77-yard interception return for a touchdown by Paul Krause and a 60-yard fumble return by John Beasley on special teams for Minnesota. Oscar Reed rushed for one touchdown and caught another, Bill Brown scored on a 1-yard run and John Henderson caught two scores for Minnesota. Interestingly, Pittsburgh's Jon Henderson also caught a touchdown pass.

Longest Vikings winning streak in series: 3 games (Oct. 18, 1964 – Nov. 23, 1969)

Longest Vikings losing streak in series: 3 games (Dec. 2, 2001 – Oct. 25, 2009)

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