Play of the Game: Steele steals the show

It appeared victory was about to slip through the fingers of the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. Fortunately for Green Bay, Ben Steele wasn't about to let the ball slip out of his hands.

Not in this situation.

Not with the game on the line.

Not against his former team.

The unknown Steele, about as loved among Packers fans as rust, was a man of steal during the biggest play of Sunday's game. With the Vikings having rallied for two quick touchdowns to turn a 31-17 game into a tie, the Packers were about to turn a disheartening collapse into a total disaster.

Following the Vikings' game-tying touchdown, kickoff returner Robert Ferguson faked a reverse before exploding through a hugh lane along the numbers on the right side of the field. But at about the 45-yard line, Ferguson was stripped of the ball by Antoine Winfield. The ball came to rest by Minnesota's Derek Ross, but somehow Steele wrested the ball away from the countless hands grabbing and yanking and pulling.

It's hard to describe what goes on in the pile as player scrap for a loose ball. Needless to say, it's not an English tea party.

"It seemed like eternity under there," said Steele. "People are scratching, I'm cramping up. Until I got the go from the ref that we had it, I stayed under there."

As for who really recovered the ball, there's a small disagreement.

"Without a doubt, 100 percent, I had the ball the whole time," Steele said.

"It was another case of those felonious calls you get in Green Bay," Ross countered. "We were playing against the crowd, the Packers and six to eight referees."

When the mass of bodies emerged from the pile one by one, the Vikings' Larry Ned emerged with the ball. The ball, according to the men in stripes, belonged to the Packers.

According to Steele, he let go of the ball once the officials assured him that the Packers would retain possession. That's how Ned emerged from the scrum with the pigskin.

"There was no way I was going to let go of that ball," said Steele. "Until the ref said, ‘Ok, 82 you got it', there was no way I was getting up from that pile."

Steele was released near the end of training camp by the Vikings. He latched on with the Packers' practice squad before the start of the regular season and was promoted when the Packers waived rookie Craig McHugh.

"It definitely was a little extra special to get that against my old team," Steele said. "Just like I said, I was in the right place at the right time. I was able to hold on to it."

And because Steele held onto the football, the Packers held onto the victory. One play after Steele's recovery, Brett Favre hit Tony Fisher for a 25-yard completion. A couple plays later, the Packers kicked the winning field goal.

The Cheeseheads rejoiced, thanks to their man of Steele.

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