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(Sunday, October 25th)
Final Score: Pittsburgh 27, Minnesota 17
Pittsburgh, PA (Sports Network) - Pittsburgh's defense turned two Brett Favre turnovers into touchdowns in the fourth quarter, as Keyaron Fox's 82-yard interception return for a TD with a minute to go sealed Minnesota's first loss of the season, a heart-breaking 27-17 decision at Heinz Field.
"That's one of those slow-motion moments. That's a joy in this business. I think we've had a few balls run back on us this year, so it was good to be on the good side of it," said Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, who was Minnesota's defensive coordinator in 2006.
LaMarr Woodley had a 77-yard fumble return for a score in the final frame for the Steelers (5-2), who have won eight consecutive regular-season home games and four straight overall despite gaining just 259 yards of offense on Sunday.
Ben Roethlisberger was held in check with 175 yards and a touchdown on 14- of-26 attempts, while Rashard Mendenhall rushed for 69 yards on 10 carries and lost a fumble inside the red zone.
Mike Wallace ended with three catches for 72 yards and a score, and Hines Ward, who entered the game with a league-high 599 receiving yards, managed just one catch for three yards against a secondary that was playing without Pro Bowl cornerback Antoine Winfield (foot).
Favre ended with 334 yards on 34-of-51 attempts but was unable to pull off the comeback for the Vikings (6-1), who were attempting to start the season 7-0 for the first time since 2000.
Adrian Peterson found it tough sledding against Pittsburgh's second-ranked rush defense. The league's leading rusher coming into the week was held to 69 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. He also caught four passes for 60 yards.
Sidney Rice recorded 136 yards on 11 grabs, while Percy Harvin caught three balls for 42 yards and had an 88-yard kickoff return for a TD in defeat.
Mendenhall coughed up the ball on the second snap of the fourth quarter deep in the red zone. Minnesota recovered at its own three-yard line, and three first-down grabs by Rice and a pair of Peterson gains had the visitors down to Pittsburgh's 10 trailing, 13-10.
A tripping penalty nullified a Rice TD grab, and on 3rd-and-goal from the eight, Favre went back to pass and was stripped by Brett Keisel. Woodley scooped up the ball and used a convoy of blockers down the field en route to a 77-yard score the other way.
Harvin countered by taking the ensuing kickoff at his own 12 and up the left sideline. The rookie juked kicker Jake Reed near midfield and changed directions in Pittsburgh territory before crossing the goal line to keep it a close game with 6:09 to play.
Roethlisberger fumbled on third down on the next drive, and two Vikings defenders knocked the ball out of bounds, yielding a Steelers punt.
Minnesota took over at its own 26 with 3:21 remaining. On 3rd-and-4 at the two-minute warning, Peterson caught a pass just across midfield, ran over William Gay and got taken down at the Pittsburgh 26 for a 29-yard gain.
Two plays later, a screen pass went through the hands of Chester Taylor and into the waiting arms of Fox, who engineered his way down the right sideline and into the end zone for the game-sealing 82-yard score with a minute to go, ending Minnesota's perfect start to the season.
"Chester's an excellent receiver. I thought it was a good call. We were moving the ball well at the time. Things happen," Favre said. "We struggled a little in the red zone today obviously. That will be a point of emphasis not only for us but for me this week."
Reed's 39-yard field goal broke a scoreless tie with four seconds left in the opening quarter.
The Vikings finally moved the ball midway through the second with a 13-play, 76-yard march. Harvin hauled in a 28-yard pass on 3rd-and-6 early on, and Peterson capped it with a two-yard dive into the end zone at the 5:12 mark.
The Steelers had gained just 55 yards prior to an eight-play, 91-yard drive before the break. Wallace brought in a 22-yard pass down the middle and essentially ran the same pattern two plays later, this time for a 40-yard score to make it 10-7 at intermission.
A promising drive for the hosts stalled inside the Minnesota 10, and Reed booted a 27-yard field goal four minutes into the third frame.
The Vikings also had a hiccup in enemy territory on the next possession. Peterson was stuffed on first down from the one and two incompletions brought on the kicking unit, as Ryan Longwell's 18-yard chip shot with 4:44 left in the third made it 13-10.
Vikings receiver Bernard Berrian left the game in the second quarter with a hamstring injury...Back judge Rich Reels was knocked over by a Vikings player during Harvin's kickoff return and did not return to the game...The Steelers entered the contest ranked fifth in the league in yards per game (403.7)...The Vikings gained 386 yards in the loss...The Steelers have a bye next week and return to action November 9 in a road test against Denver, while Minnesota, which had won 15 of its previous 18 regular season games, plays at Green Bay next week in a much-anticipated matchup with Favre's old club...Minnesota had scored at least 27 points in all six games coming into Sunday.
10/25 19:20:40 ET