View Full Version : Game 7 Matchup: Steelers vs. Vikings

10-25-2009, 01:09 AM
Game 7 Matchup: Steelers vs. Vikings
Gery Dulac breaks down the visit from Brett Favre & Co.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

When the Steelers have the ball: The offense has averaged 461 yards, 26 first downs, 6.8 yards per play and more than 34 minutes time of possession in the past three games. Ben Roethlisberger had nine passes of 20 yards or longer against the Browns and leads the NFL with 26. That could be a problem for a Vikings secondary that has allowed an NFC-high 24 passes of 20 yards or longer and could be without CB Antoine Winfield (sprained foot). Rashard Mendenhall has averaged 101.3 yards and scored four TDs in the past three games His ability to convert in goal-line situations is one of the reasons the Steelers have been efficient in the red zone. After scoring TDs on 4 of 9 possessions inside the 20 in their first three games, they have converted 10 of 12 in the past three. DT Kevin Williams is especially active in the middle with four sacks and 18 QB pressures, tied for the team lead.

When the Vikings have the ball: There is more to this offense than QB Brett Favre and RB Adrian Peterson. The offensive line is more than solid with LT Bryant McKinnie and six-time Pro Bowl G Steve Hutchinson. And they have two emerging young receivers in Sidney Rice, who leads the team with 23 catches and 409 receiving yards; and rookie Percy Harvin. WR Bernard Berrian is starting to make big plays again. The Steelers will focus on taking the deep pass away from Favre, which should lead to plenty of underneath catches for third-down back Chester Taylor, who is third on the team with 21 receptions; and tight end Visanthe Shiancoe, who have five TDs among his 17 catches.

Keep an eye on

DE Jared Allen: After being acquired from the Kansas City Chiefs in a trade after the 2007 season, Allen has 22 sacks in 22 games with the Vikings. He had a career-high 4.5 sacks against the Packers two weeks ago and is tied for the NFC lead with 7.5 sacks. On top of that, he has a sack and forced fumble or fumble recovery in each of the past five games. Since 2004, Allen leads all NFL players with 65 sacks, but he has never had a sack against the Steelers.

The Minnesota Vikings are one of four unbeaten teams in the league and have won 16 of their past 19 regular-season games, dating to last season. They also have won six consecutive games on the road. The Steelers have won three in a row and have not lost at Heinz Field in their past nine games, including postseason. They have won the past two meetings with the Vikings, but are 3-4 in their past seven games in the series.
Keys to victory

To win, the Vikings must ...

1. Ward off big plays. Nobody has been making more than Hines Ward, who leads the NFL with 41 catches and 599 yards.

2. Send men at Ben. Only three AFC QBs have been sacked more than Roethlisberger (16), but it has not been enough to slow his production.

3. Not toy with Troy. Vikings have committed NFC-low four turnovers, but Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark have combined for all four Steelers picks.

To win, the Steelers must ...

1. Slow Adrian. Peterson has nine runs of 50 yards or longer since entering the league, including two this season.

2. Carve Favre. Even at 40, he is off to one of the best starts of his career, completing nearly 70 percent of his passes for 12 TDs and only two interceptions.

3. Not let Jared be a jewel. The responsibility of slowing Allen belongs to LT Max Starks.

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