In a strange game where the score didn't always reflect the statistics, we have some of the astounding and confounding numbers among more than 20 game-day notes.
The Vikings spent much of the past two months doing just enough offensively to win games – primarily because the offense didn't make big mistakes. In Sunday's 18-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers
, the Vikings had three trips into the red zone when the game was still being contested and came away with no points.
"Those kind of mistakes are what kill you in games like this," Brad Johnson
said. "We had our chances but didn't take advantage of them when we had them. A team like Pittsburgh doesn't give you too many opportunities to score. You have to take advantage of the opportunities when you get them and we didn't do that today."
The Vikings offense completely collapsed in the second half. After gaining 40 yards on the opening drive of the third quarter – which ended with a blocked field goal – the Vikings had minus-15 yards. In the final 25 minutes of the game, the Vikings had just eight offensive snaps.
We never got in any kind of rhythm," wide receiver Nate Burleson
said. "We had our chances, but never finished things off. You have to give them some credit, but we didn't play the type of game we've played over the last few weeks and it cost us."
At a minimum, it cost the Vikings the game Sunday. At worst, it may have cost them a playoff shot.
The Steelers finished the game with 142 yards rushing on 39 carries, as opposed to just 54 yards on 17 carries for the Vikings.
The Vikings had just one play of 20 yards or more, while the Steelers had two plays of 49 yards or more.
Brad Johnson equaled his interception total for the season in the first half Sunday.
The Vikings were 3 of 12 on third-down conversions on offense Sunday. Over the last two games, the team has converted just 5 of 24 third-down opportunities.
With two catches Sunday, Nate Burleson became the eighth Viking with 20 or more catches this year. Jim Kleinsasser needs one more to become the ninth Viking with 20-plus receptions.
Jermaine Wiggins continues to lead the team in receptions with 59 but had just two catches for nine yards Sunday and still has not scored a touchdown.
The three points Sunday was the first time in seven games the Vikings didn't score 20 or more points.
The Vikings have allowed 50 sacks thus far this season.
After rushing for just 31 yards in the first half, the Steelers rolled up 72 yards rushing in the third quarter alone – thanks to a 49-yard run by Parker.
The Vikings were outscored 7-0 in the second quarter despite a complete domination of the stats. The Vikings ran 20 plays and gained 111 yards in the quarter, while the Steelers ran just 10 plays and gained only 6 yards. Roethlisberger threw just two passes – both incompletions – and his team finished the second quarter with minus-5 yards passing.
For the half, the Vikings had 160 total yards (30 rushing, 130 passing), while the Steelers had 99 yards (31 rushing, 68 passing). The vaunted Steelers rushing attack was limited to Jerome Bettis gaining 15 yards on six carries. Willie Parker rushed four times for just 5 yards.
Erasmus James had two sacks in the first half – both of the sacks the Vikings defense had on Roethlisberger in the half.
The Vikings' first drive of the second quarter came away empty on one of the stranger drives of the game. On the first play, Marcus Johnson was called for a personal foul that backed the Vikings up. On the next play, Brad Johnson lost a fumble on the Minnesota 3-yard line, but an offside penalty on the Steelers negated the call. The Vikings then got into Steelers territory on a 39-yard pass interference on Troy Polamalu. The Vikings were stalled by a pair of false start penalties on Marcus Johnson and Adam Goldberg and, after the drive ended on an interception by Joey Porter, Anthony Herrera was flagged for a late hit on Porter – the sixth penalty on a drive that technically was just eight plays.
The Steelers dominated the first quarter statistically. They held the ball for 9:12 of the quarter. They outgained the Vikings 93 yards to 49 – Roethlisberger had 78 yards passing, as opposed to just 21 yards by Brad Johnson. The Vikings held the running game in check early, allowing just 20 yards on seven carries. Minnesota ran six times for 28 yards.
Michael Bennett fumbled with four minutes to play in the first quarter. Although he recovered his own fumble, he was immediately removed from the lineup and he didn't return until midway through the second quarter.
The Vikings got the first big break of the game when Antwaan Randle El let a Chris Kluwe punt bounce that came back and hit him. At first, the Vikings were penalized for interfering with a fair catch and Mike Tice tried to challenge the play. But during the long stoppage in play, the referees conferred and found the Vikings did nothing wrong and they got the ball on the Pittsburgh 3-yard line. They wouldn't get a touchdown on the miscue, but got their first points of the game to tie the contest 3-3 late in the first quarter.
In one of the bigger turning points early in the game, the Steelers initially were given credit for a 25-yard pass interference call on Ralph Brown in coverage with Hines Ward. On the play, the two ran into one another with Brown making a play on the ball and Ward not looking back. The flag was picked up.
Erasmus James earned the ire of Mike Tice in the first quarter with a hit out of bounds that continued a drive on what would have been a third-and-10 situation. The Steelers went on to score a field goal on that drive and take an early 3-0 lead.
The Vikings deactivations Sunday included third quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan, Darren Bennett, Adimchinobe Echemandu, Ukee Dozier, Keith Newman, Heath Farwell, Jeff Dugan and Richard Angulo>
Among the Steelers' deactives were Duce Staley and starting left tackle Marvel Smith.
For outdoor stadium enthusiasts, the game-time temperature was 3 degrees outside and a toasty 65 degrees inside.
The paid attendance Sunday was 64,136 – the 83rd straight sellout at the Metrodome.