The Pittsburgh Steelers and Minnesota Vikings entered the Week 14 Thursday Night Football game at a crossroads in their seasons. Both teams desperately needed a victory to keep their postseason hopes alive and well, and coming out of Week 13 they found themselves in different positions.
The Steelers were coming off a resounding win over the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field, while the Vikings lost on the road to the Detroit Lions, the Lions’ first win of the 2021 regular season. Nonetheless, both teams were looking to win Thursday night on a short week and get their season headed in the right direction.
The visiting Steelers won the coin toss, and chose to defer their possession to the start of the second half. Kirk Cousins and company took the field and it took them no time to get the ball to their No. 1 receiver Justin Jefferson. A 20-yard Dalvin Cook run moved the Vikings into Pittsburgh territory, but the drive stalled in Greg Joseph’s field goal range. However, the 53-yard kick was missed wide left, giving the Steelers’ offense prime field position.
Starting at their own 43-yard line, the Steelers were able to string together several first downs, one being a 4th down conversion run by Ben Roethlisberger. Facing a third and 19, Diontae Johnson’s reception set up a 49-yard Chris Boswell field goal attempt. However, like Joseph before him, Boswell missed left giving the ball right back to Minnesota.
With 5:32 left in the first quarter, it took the Vikings little time to strike first. A 30-yard Dalvin Cook run set up the Vikings in the red-zone, and it was Kirk Cousins finding Justin Jefferson for the first score of the game. Joseph’s extra point was missed, making the score 6-0 with 3:31 left in the first quarter.
On second down of the next drive, Chase Claypool took an end around and, while reaching for the first down, had the football knocked out of his hands. It was ruled a fumble, but overturned by a challenge; however, the Steelers ended up punting the ball away after Najee Harris was stopped short on 3rd down.
The Vikings took their next possession and quickly moved into scoring range.
Minnesota was nearing the red-zone at the end of the first quarter.