The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Sports

September 30, 2013

Vikings' big plays doom Steelers

LONDON — Greg Jennings showed that the Vikings have someone other than Adrian Peterson who can make big plays.

Jennings and Peterson provided the kind of 1-2 punch Minnesota had been hoping for when it signed the wide receiver in the offseason, and each scored two touchdowns in a 34-27 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers at London’s Wembley Stadium for the Vikings’ first victory of the season.

“It would have been a long flight back to take after a loss,” Jennings said. “It was a special day. To do this at Wembley Stadium is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

Not so for the Steelers, who fell to 0-4 for the first time since 1968. That’s a hole only one team has dug itself out of to make the playoffs, the San Diego Chargers in 1992.

So much for the city of Big Ben giving a lift to Ben Roethlisberger.

“We are in unchartered territories and the water is dangerous right now, so we have to stick together and get out of it,” Roethlisberger said. “Right now, you could say we’re the worst team in the league. That hurts.”

In one of the most entertaining NFL games yet in the annual International Series in London, Jennings provided the biggest highlight – breaking several tackles on a 70-yard catch-and-run that opened up a 10-0 lead for the Vikings (1-3) in the first quarter.

“You throw a 5-yard hitch, and he goes 70 yards,” said quarterback Matt Cassel, who started in place of the injured Christian Ponder. “It makes your job a lot easier. Those guys made plays all night.”

Not to be outdone, Peterson ran for a 60-yard touchdown in the second quarter.

They still needed a big stop from the defense in the closing moments, when Everson Griffen stripped Roethlisberger of the ball on the 6-yard line with 19 seconds left and Kevin Williams recovered the fumble to seal the victory.

“It feels great to get our first home win of the season,” Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier said. “And we had to come all the way to London to get it. I think I’ll always have a special place in my heart for Wembley Stadium.”

He suddenly has a bit of a quarterback controversy as well.

Cassel finished 16 of 25 for 248 yards and two touchdowns with no turnovers. But with Ponder hoping to have recovered from a rib injury after the coming bye week, Frazier said he doesn’t expect a permanent switch.

“If you’re asking, our quarterback is Christian Ponder,” Frazier said. “Now we’ll discuss a lot of things when we come out of the bye, but ... we’re going to enjoy this victory for a little while at least.”

Regardless of the quarterback, Peterson and Jennings will pose a threat to any team going forward.

Peterson ran for 140 yards on 23 carries while Jennings finished with 92 yards on three receptions.

That offset two touchdown runs by Pittsburgh’s rookie running back Le’Veon Bell, who made his long-awaited debut for the Steelers after a foot injury. He gave the team its first rushing touchdowns of the season by breaking off to the right for an 8-yard score to make it 10-7, somersaulting into the end zone, and again pulled Pittsburgh within 3 by plowing in from the 1-yard line in the third quarter.

But Peterson and Jennings added their second touchdowns to help Minnesota pull away, although Pittsburgh made sure it was a tense finish after Jerricho Cotchery caught a 15-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter and Shaun Suisham kicked a 28-yard field goal to make it a one-possession game with 3:40 left.

The Steelers got the ball back on their own 22-yard line with 1:43 left and no timeouts, and Roethlisberger completed six passes to get a first-and-goal at the 6. But after spiking the ball, he overthrew Cotchery in the end zone and was stripped on the next play.   

Roethlisberger finished 36 for 51 for 383 yards, with one touchdown and one interception.

The Steelers are still looking for their first turnover of the season, as they failed to recover Cassel’s fumble on the Vikings 38 in the second quarter, with the ball bouncing forward before being recovered by Jerome Simpson for a 10-yard gain.

“We came up short, but we played better than we have in recent weeks,” Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said. “We gave up explosive plays, you can’t do that. ... We’re going to focus on getting better, and that’s what’s going to change the outcome of football games.”

–––

NOTES: British heavyweight Boxer David Haye blew the Vikings’ giant horn when the team ran onto the field before the game, while Kiss member Gene Simmons sang the American national anthem. ... This is the seventh year of the International Series in Britain, but the first year Wembley will host two NFL games, with the Jacksonville Jaguars playing the San Francisco 49ers on Oct. 27. ... Jennings has seven career 70-yard TD catches. Jerry Rice holds the record with nine.

–––

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Sports
  • aaaba 0721 Martella’s sweeps past Delweld

    A six-run rally in the first helped guide Martella’s Pharmacy to an 8-1 win over Delweld in Game 3 of their best-of-5 AAABA League semifinal series at Point Stadium, sweeping the series in the process.
    That rally also continued season-long trends for the clubs, according to their respective managers.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • warshel_0721 Warshel selecting UPJ

    For Kelci Warshel, the call to attend Pitt-Johnstown was based on the availability of her desired major – nursing.
    Taking an opportunity to join the university’s women’s track and field program was a very nice add-on and one that the Richland High graduate is ready to jump into ...
    ... Or hurdle over.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pirates 0721 Rallying Dodgers snap Pirates’ win streak at 3 games

    Hyun-Jin Ryu pitched seven strong innings, Adrian Gonzalez reached base five times and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-2 on Monday night.
    Ryu (11-5) joined Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw in making the Dodgers the first team in the majors with three 11-game winners.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pitt picked sixth in cluttered Coastal

    Florida State was an obvious choice as a favorite in one of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s divisions.
    In the other one, the pecking order was nowhere near that clear.

    July 21, 2014

  • Local Sports Briefs

    July 21, 2014

  • American Legion Region 7: Bedford gets past Clearfield

    Bedford’s Jake Stover had two hits with double and three RBIs in a 9-6 win against host Clearfield in the Pa. American Legion Region 7 Tournament.

    July 21, 2014

  • American Legion Region 7: Claysburg edges Beech Creek

    Claysburg’s Mike Mock went 2-for-2 with a two-run home run in the fourth inning to help his squad get by Beech Creek 7-6 during Sunday’s winners-bracket game in the Pa. American Legion Region 7 Tournament.

    July 21, 2014

  • Pirates 0720 Pirates rally to keep sweep

    Taking the extra base was the key for the Pittsburgh Pirates in completing a three-game sweep of the Colorado Rockies.
    Andrew McCutchen hit a tiebreaking single in the seventh inning, Neil Walker followed with a home run and the Pirates overcame a three-run deficit to beat the Rockies 5-3 Sunday.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • LAG 0720 AAABA League playoffs: Laurel Auto Group moves closer to advancing

    Second-seeded Laurel Auto Group fell behind early against No. 3 Berkley Hills Renegades on Sunday afternoon at Roxbury Park. But Laurel’s players didn’t lose their composure.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Urtz, Pope lead AAABA League award votes

    Logan Urtz hadn’t fielded a ground ball as an infielder or swung a bat in a game for a couple seasons.
    But you can’t take the former infielder out of a starting pitcher.

    July 20, 2014