Halftime: Vikings up 20-10 over Steelers with pair of home-run plays
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The Minnesota Vikings finally received a collective effort during Sunday's first half from London against the Pittsburgh Steelers, as their playmakers made plays.
All with backup quarterback Matt Cassel at the helm.
Receiver Greg Jennings' first reception of the opening stretch went for a 70-yard touchdown after Jennings made a few defenders miss for 50-plus yards after the catch. Running back Adrian Peterson ripped off a 60-yard touchdown run on the first play of the team's fifth series, giving the Vikings a 17-7 lead to start the second quarter. Receiver Cordarrelle Patterson took a kickoff back 41 yards to set the offense up at midfield for a field goal at the end of the half. Defensive end Jared Allen registered 2.5 sacks on one drive as the defense held quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to a second-quarter field goal at the goal line.
Everything appeared to bounce the Vikings way in the first half. That was no more evident than when Cassel was stripped during a sack and fumbled the ball upfield on third down in the second quarter. Receiver Jerome Simpson fell on the ball for the 11-yard gain and first down.
The Vikings had a clear message to get the passing game going early, as they called seven passes on their first 10 calls with starting quarterback Christian Ponder (ribs) in street clothes on the sideline. Cassel took shots downfield, one of which was nearly intercepted by Steelers' cornerback Ike Taylor in the endzone. He ultimately completed just six of his first 15 throws, but appeared to take command in the pocket and on the sidelines.
Peterson hurdled Taylor on his explosive touchdown run, but he averaged just three yards on his other eight carries.
The Vikings defense was on the field for 20:32 of the first 30:00 of the game, as the offense hit the two home-run plays for 70- and 60-yard touchdowns to go along with two three-and-outs. Allen racked up 2.5 sacks, rookie defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd getting the other 0.5, in the second quarter. The Vikings defensive line got created chaos for Roethlisberger, sacking him three times. However, Roethlisberger was very elusive and evaded at least three other potential sacks by linebackers Chad Greenway and Erin Henderson and Allen.
-- Kicker Blair Walsh is now 12-for-12 from 50-plus yards in his career after converting from 54 yards in the first quarter.
-- Safety Harrison Smith was flagged for unnecessary roughness/hit-to-the-head on a 29-yard pass play to tight end Heath Miller. The flag itself appeared to be unnecessary as Miller lowered his head and Smith didn't initiate the contact.
--With injuries in the defensive secondary, the Vikings rotated safety Andrew Sendejo, who started for the injured Jamarca Sanford, with safety Mistral Raymond, who was activated for the first time this season. Cornerback Marcus Sherels started in place of injured cornerback Chris Cook.