By: Abby Altman
Close games that come down to the wire are something the Vikings know very well. It’s also something the team would be glad to see go, just for one week. The Vikings almost blew Pittsburg out of the water on Thursday, leading 23-0 at the half. Cook had 14 carries for 2 touchdowns and 153 yards in the first half alone, despite playing with a dislocated shoulder.
Jefferson began the Vikings first half scoring drive on a 14 yard touchdown, followed by a 29 yard touchdown by Dalvin Cook the next drive. With less than 3 minutes in the half, Cook stretched the lead to 23 with a 7 yard touchdown.
The Vikings defense also held Pittsburgh to just 66 yards on 26 plays, and got close to Roethlisberger countless times, recording 4 sacks.
The Vikings scored twice again in the third quarter, making the score 29-0 with just over a quarter to go. Then the old Vikings returned.
Pittsburgh’s first score of the game was on Najee Harris’s 3 yard touchdown with just over 2 minutes left in the third quarter. Less than 3 minutes later, Pittsburgh scored again after an interception thrown by Kirk Cousins.
The Vikings went 3 and out, and the Steelers quickly put up yet another unanswered touchdown, making the score 29-20.
Minnesota did not give up easily. The offense responded to the comeback with a 62 yard catch and run by KJ Osborn, giving the Vikings a 16 point lead. The Steelers countered with a 15 yard touchdown completed with a 2 pt conversion, making it a 36-28 ball game.
Down by 8, with seconds left on the clock, Rothlisburger fired to Pat Freiermuth in the end zone hoping that with the touchdown, and a 2 pt conversion, they’d be able to force OT. Vikings safety Harrison Smith was able to knock the ball out of Freiermuth’s hands on the try, alongside Xavier Woods ending that hope.
“We keep asking ourselves why we keep putting ourselves in this position”, said Cook. “That’s been us all year. Living and dying by that last drive. We’ve got to figure it out.”
The Vikings held the game 36-28, to keep their playoff hopes alive, although far in the distance. Minnesota now plays Chicago, the LA Rams, Green Bay, and Chicago again. Losing more than 1 game in this final stretch will likely put their playoff hopes to rest.