Re: Next up: Vikings.
Yeah, the Vikes scored touchdowns of an int, kick return, and what, punt return? To tell you the truth, that actually makes me a little more nervous than I was going in to the Bears game. It makes the Vikings look like an opportunistic football team. Hopefully the Steelers do not give the Vikes many free opportunities.
The way the Steelers have put the ball on the ground the last couple games does not inspire confidence. Granted, they have fumbled in outdoor weather conditions that were less than ideal but running teams can't afford to put it on the carpet. Hopefully playing in the climate contolled Metrodome will take away some of those ball handling issues.
The Vikes look like they are middle of the road -- 17th in the NFL, just over 112 YPG -- on run defense so maybe the Steelers line can build on their excellent performance, Sunday. I can not imagine the Bus seeing too much time if the ground game is effective without him. Maybe Willie, especially on a fast track against an average defense, will be able to recapture some of his early season magic. Of course, these Vikings aren't the Texans or Titans.
Hopefully they are not the Bengals, either.
While the Bengals are the third-best kick return team in the NFL -- averaging just over 25 yards a try -- the Vikings are, you guessed it, right in the middle of the pack with a 22.5 average return. Just when it seemed Pittsburgh had clawed its way back in to the game, Tab Perry spoiled the comeback. Koren Robinson handles the kickoff return game for the Vikes and unlike Perry, he has taken one to the house. Hopefully he will get plenty of chances to make a big return.
Offensively, the Vikings are almost as bad as da Bears in one category that has proved problematic for the Steelers all season: third down conversion percentage. The Vikes are coming in as the 30th ranked third down team in the NFL -- just ahead of Chicago and the Niners. Not exactly elite company but then again, we all know the elite play in the AFC.
The Vikings do have a six-game winning streak coming in to the game but I don't think that it's going to put any fear in the Steelers. They just stopped an eight-gamer, so hopefully this one is duck soup.
One thing, though: I wonder how Ben will do in his second game in a dome? If Pittsburgh can get ahead early, maybe they can take the crowd out of it and noise will not be an issue. After reading some of the post-Indy game qoutes, it seemed like the racket -- manufactured or not -- got to Ben. I'm sure that Vikes' fan is well aware of that and will act accordingly.
Hopefully it won't matter: Steelers 27-17. Two down, six to go.
Lets go Steelers, keep the season alive!