Roethlisberger, winless Steelers feel the Vikings' turnover-prone pain
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The NFL probably didn't think pinning the league MVP against a two-time Super Bowl champion quarterback in the annual London spectacle would result in an 0-3 vs. 0-3 matchup.
But the Minnesota Vikings and Pittsburgh Steelers are both winless after three games, due in part to 10 and nine turnovers, respectively.
"We've turned the ball over," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. "Particularly in the red area, obviously that takes points off the board. You can't do that in the NFL and expect to be much better than 0-3, that's the reality of it."
The reality is also that the Steelers have gone without a takeaway through three games, tying them for a league-worst -9 in turnover differential.
As the 'home' team, the Vikings left for London on Monday and have held practice their all week, while the Steelers don't leave until Thursday night. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said he's not sure which one he'd prefer, but that the Vikings will have more time to adjust to the six-hour time difference.
"I don't know," Roethlisberger said. "I guess I could probably tell you after the game which one I like or not. I've gone over [to London] a couple of times and the jetlag can get you. I know Friday is going to be a worthless day when [we] get over there because you're so tired, you want to get to bed."
The Vikings have lost their three games by an average of five points, the Steelers by 11. Roethlisberger said the Vikings' defense has a lot to do with the closer margin.
"They're very ball aware," Roethlisberger said. "The D-linemen, if they're not going to get the sack, they have their hands up, always batting balls in the air. They're coming after quarterbacks, stripping the ball out. They seem to always know where the ball is."
Like the Steelers, the Vikings offense can't hang onto the ball as quarterback Christian Ponder is at fault for seven of the team's 10 turnovers.
"That is something that has to be corrected; otherwise we will be right back at this spot again," Coach Leslie Frazier said. "You can't turn the ball over at the rate we are turning it over and expect to win, unless, and I have said this before, you are so superior than your opponent, and we are not."
Tomlin has played the Vikings just once since leaving as the team's defensive coordinator to become the Steelers' coach in 2007, winning 27-17 as one of former quarterback Brett Favre's four losses in the 2009 regular season.
But Tomlin said he's not holding any insider information on the Vikings, nor is he asking offensive coordinator Todd Haley, who coached the Kansas City Chiefs from 2009 to 2011, about Vikings' backup quarterback Matt Cassel, who could start.
Ponder's status for Sunday remains questionable, but he's impressed at least one person so far.
"More than anything, we're looking at what they're putting on tape," Tomlin said. "Obviously Christian Ponder is doing a great job for them at quarterback, his mobility is an asset for them, a concern for us."