MINNEAPOLIS – Mike Tomlin said earlier in the week he wanted to see a better effort tackling by the Pittsburgh Steelers defense in the team's third preseason game.
What the Steelers head coach did not get, however, was much offense.
Instead, the Steelers relied on the leg of placekicker Jeff Reed, who booted four field goals – including the game-winner from 47 yards with 4 seconds remaining – as Pittsburgh pulled out a 12-10 win at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger completed 10 of 17 passes, but for only 65 yards and was sacked twice while playing the first half. Running back Willie Parker picked up just 18 yards on 10 carries as the Steelers managed just 76 net yards and three points in the first two quarters.
Minnesota, however, had just as difficult a time with Pittsburgh's defense, taking a 7-3 lead into the half on a 1-yard TD run by Peterson in the second quarter to cap off a 47-yard dive. That touchdown was set up by a fumble by Steelers rookie running back Rashard Mendenhall – who lost two fumbles in the game.
Mendenhall, the Steelers' top draft pick, made several nifty runs while gaining 79 yards on 15 carries, but the two lost fumbles will definitely put a damper on any excitement about his play.
Veteran Gus Frerotte started at quarterback for Minnesota in place of injured starter Taveras Jackson and completed 13 of 19 passes for 133 yards and one interception while playing into the third quarter.
Frerotte's interception, by Ike Taylor, set up the Steelers' lone score of the first half, a 35-yard Reed field goal.
Backup quarterback Byron Leftwich looked sharp for the Steelers, completing 16 of 23 passes for 129 yards and leading Pittsburgh on three field goal drives in the final 18 minutes of the game.
Pro Bowl safety Troy Polamalu did not play for the Steelers after coming off the Physically Unable to Perform list earlier in the week. Polamalu had been out with a hamstring injury.