Steelers Drop to 0-4

Published 09/29 2013 06:34PM

Updated 09/29 2013 06:37PM

WEMBLEY, ENGLAND - Many times, the start of Steelers training camp would signal the end of the Pirates season. Today, we have the start of a Pirates post-season pretty much marking the end of the Steelers for 2013.

For the first time in 45 years, back to when miniskirts were still all the rage and pro football in Pittsburgh was not, the Steelers lost for the fourth straight time to open a season.

The previously winless Minnesota Vikings turned the trick this time, on another continent but in an all-too familiar way. The Vikings parlayed big plays against a shaky Steelers defense to pull off their first win, 34-27, turning back a furious Steelers comeback that ended when Roethlisberger was sacked from the Minnesota six on the final play of the game.

The Steelers thus start the season at 0-4 for the first time since 1968, an autumn in which Richard Nixon beat Hubert Humphrey in the presidential election.

They will find some relief next Sunday, because they have the weekend off.

Rookie halfback Le'Veon Bell, in his first NFL game, scored two touchdowns and Ben Roethlisberger threw for another to Jerricho Cotchery. Shaun Suisham kicked two field goals.

Adrian Peterson ran for two touchdowns, one of 60 yards, and Greg Jennings caught two scoring passes from backup Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel, one of 70 yards.

Roethlisberger's 15-yard touchdown pass to Cotchery early in the fourth quarter closed the Vikings lead to 34-24. They cut the lead to 7 points with 3:37 left in the game on Suisham's 28-yard field goal.

They then kicked off rather than trying to recover an onside kick and got the ball back with 1:43 to go at their 22. The quickloy moved to a first down at the Minnesota 20, where with 59 seconds to go, Roethlisberger stopped the clock with a spike.

He did so again after two more completions to Antonio Brown at the six with 22 seconds left. On third down, however, Roethlisberger was sacked and lost a fumble and that was that.

The Steelers went a fourth game without recovering a turnover. They committed two, a Roethlisberger interception and his final fumble.

The Vikings had stretched their 10-point halftime lead to 34-17 over the Steelers after three quarters, their biggest lead of the game.

The Steelers had closed the gap to 20-17 when they scored on their first drive of the second half, a 1-yard run by rookie Le'Veon Bell, his second touchdown in his first game.

But it was more of the same on Minnesota's next drive.

Matt Cassel found Jerome Simpson wide open over the middle for a 51-yard completion, and Adrian Peterson ended that series with his second touchdown run, this one from 8 yards.

Minnesota was back on top by 10. It became 17 a short while later.

Much as he has had to do all day, Roethlisberger scrambled away from a pass rush from his 28. He spotted Emmanuel Sanders on the left, but Roethlisberger did not anticipate Sanders breaking off his route and threw too far, right into the hands of linebacker Chad Greenway at the 37.

Two plays later, Cassel threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Greg Jennings in the back of the end zone over beleaguered cornerback Cortez Allen.

That boosted the Vikings lead to 34-17 with 5:11 to go in the third quarter.

The Steelers, trying to avoid the ignominy of losing their first four games, did not get off to a good foot doing so and trailed the Vikings 20-10 at halftime.

Roethlisberger, under a ferocious pass rush in the first half, somehow escaped some of it to guide them from their 14 to a first down at the Minnesota five late in the first half.

However, Jared Allen rang up his third sack of the half by shoving tackle Mike Adams aside on third down to keep them out of the end zone. Shaun Suisham kicked a 26-yard field goal for their only score of the second quarter.

Minnesota led 17-10.

The Vikings scored a second touchdown on a second big play in the second quarter to go in front 17-7. Adrian Peterson made it look easy by running up the middle for a 60-yard touchdown on the first play after a poor, 31-yard punt by Zoltan Mesko.

Adams allowed two sacks in the first half and also was called for a holding penalty.

The Vikings added to their lead when Blair Walsh kicked his second field goal, from 37 yards with 39 seconds left in the half.

That sent Minnesota into halftime with a 20-10 lead.

Bell scored a touchdown in the first period of his first NFL game to keep the Steelers close after one quarter of play.
Minnesota, which scored the first two times it had the ball, led 10-7.

Bell took a handoff on the right side, then cut outside and picked up blocks from Heath Miller and David Johnson, then dived into the end zone to complete an 8-yard touchdown run.

It was the Steelers first rushing touchdown of the season.

The Steelers found themselves playing from behind again as the Vikings ran out to scores on their first two series and a 10-0 less than seven minutes into the game.

After Blair Walsh kicked a 54-yard field goal to end their first drive, their second came much more quickly. It took them three plays and a badly missed tackle by cornerback Cortez Allen for Greg Jennings to turn a short pass into a 70-yard touchdown reception.

Quarterback Matt Cassel, starting for injuried Christian Ponder, threw a pass to the wide-open Jennings about 7 yards on third down. Allen stabbed at him and missed and Jennings whisked his way the final 63 yards for the score.

-- Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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