I’m a little sour by how it all went down, but I'm not entirely displeased with Sunday’s 27-17 loss to the Steelers. I do feel the football gods did not treat the Vikings kindly in this game.
The Vikings defence played its most complete game of the season and held a very good Pittsburgh offence to 13 points. Our coverage units did a solid job, the offensive line held up well against the Steelers pass rush and Percy Harvin returned another kickoff for a touchdown. I think the Vikings were (slightly) the better team. Yet they lost this game on two – I won’t call them fluky, just rare – turnovers returned by the Steelers defence for touchdowns.
One occurred after a questionable tripping call on Jeff Dugan wiped out a Sidney Rice score that would have given the Vikes a 17-13 lead (this was not a good series for Ron Winter’s officiating crew. The holding call on Bryant McKinnie earlier in the drive was awful and they incorrectly ruled a crucial third down catch by Rice as out-of-bounds, which was challenged and subsequently reversed.) The other turnover came when a screen pass went through the hands of the sure-handed Chester Taylor and was smartly picked off by linebacker Keyaron Fox.
However, the Vikings can’t blame the football gods for everything. The team committed 11 costly penalties and the offence, which has been so good the past three weeks, had a horrible first half where it produced one great drive, two three-and-outs, three six-and-outs and one kneeldown at the end of the half. The unit had too many downs with negative or minimal gains in the first half, it hurt itself with several false start penalties and Brett Favre really wasn’t sharp - off-target on quite a few makeable throws.
I was also surprised by how often the Vikings chose to pass on first and second down and didn’t put the ball in Adrian Peterson’s hands. That could simply be a function of the Vikings taking what the Steelers defence was giving them. But I don’t think the Vikings coaching staff wants Favre to throw the ball 51 times as he did in this game.
Still, this loss isn’t a killer and it probably serves them well as they head to Lambeau Field to play the Packers next Sunday. If the Vikings defence we saw today against Pittsburgh shows up against Green Bay and the Vikings get an offensive performance more like what we saw in the first Vikes-Packers game, Minnesota could have its first sweep of the Packers in Brad Childress’ tenure as head coach of the Vikings. That is what I’ll be taking away from this loss.
And for your reading pleasure, I link to this sportswriting masterpiece by CBS Sportsline's Pete Prisco.
I wondered how long it would take for some sportswriters to work the "Favre's breaking down again" angle if the Vikings lost a game on a Favre turnover or two. It turns out it took only a couple of hours after this game.
I don't like Prisco as a writer, but the logic in this article seems bad even for him. Those two turnovers are both on Favre? It's all his fault. Really?