Vikings finally nab first victory
LONDON—Greg Jennings showed that the Vikings have someone other than Adrian Peterson who can make big plays.
Jennings and Peterson provided the kind of 1-2 punch Minnesota had been hoping for when it signed the wide receiver in the off-season, and each scored two touchdowns yesterday in a 34-27 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers at London’s Wembley Stadium for the Vikings’ first victory of the season.
“It was a special day,” he added. “To do this at Wembley Stadium is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
Not so for the Steelers, who fell to 0-4 for the first time since 1968.
That’s a hole only one team has dug itself out of to make the playoffs—the San Diego Chargers in 1992.
So much for the city of Big Ben giving a lift to Ben Roethlisberger.
“We are in unchartered territories and the water is dangerous right now, so we have to stick together and get out of it,” Roethlisberger stressed.
“Right now, you could say we’re the worst team in the league,” he added.
In one of the most entertaining NFL games yet in the annual International Series in London, Jennings provided the biggest highlight—breaking several tackles on a 70-yard catch-and-run that opened up a 10-0 lead for the Vikings (1-3) in the first quarter.
“You throw a five-yard hitch and he goes 70 yards,” said quarterback Matt Cassel, who started in place of the injured Christian Ponder.
“It makes your job a lot easier.
“Those guys made plays all night,” he added.
Not to be outdone, Peterson ran for a 60-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
They still needed a big stop from the defence in the closing moments, when Everson Griffen stripped Roethlisberger of the ball on the six-yard line with 19 seconds left and Kevin Williams recovered the fumble to seal the victory.
“It feels great to get our first home win of the season,” said Vikings’ head coach Leslie Frazier. “And we had to come all the way to London to get it.
“I think I’ll always have a special place in my heart for Wembley Stadium.”
He suddenly has a bit of a quarterback controversy, as well.
Cassel finished 16-of-25 for 248 yards and two touchdowns, with no turnovers.
But with Ponder hoping to have recovered from a rib injury after the coming bye week, Frazier said he doesn’t expect a permanent switch.
“If you’re asking, our quarterback is Christian Ponder,” Frazier stressed.
“Now we’ll discuss a lot of things when we come out of the bye but . . . we’re going to enjoy this victory for a little while at least.”
Pittsburgh made sure it was a tense finish after Jerricho Cotchery caught a 15-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter and Shaun Suisham kicked a 28-yard field goal to make it a one-possession game with 3:40 left.
The Steelers got the ball back on their own 22-yard line with 1:43 left and no time-outs, and Roethlisberger completed six passes to get a first-and-goal at the six.
But after spiking the ball, he overthrew Cotchery in the end zone and was stripped on the next play.