Tale Of The Tape: Pittsburgh Steelers At Minnesota Vikings
- QuarterbackThe hole for the Pittsburgh Steelers keeps on getting deeper and deeper, and Ben Roethlisberger is coming off a game in which he had an interception and a fumble returned for a touchdown by the Chicago Bears in Week Three. Roethlisberger must stay away from the boatload of turnovers he has made or the Steelers will continue to lose.The Vikings' decision to stick with Christian Ponder as their starting quarterback was a mistake. Ponder is fairly athletic, but he rarely makes the right decision in crucial situations and he lacks the arm strength, accuracy and quick release to lead a dependable offense. Ponder struggles in all aspects of the game and that’s not likely to change any time soon.
- OffenseThe Steelers were able to move the ball successfully against the Bears in Week Three for the first time this season. Jonathan Dwyer had a few decent runs, but the running game still needs to improve. Wide receiver Antonio Brown demonstrated his penchant for making acrobatic catches and was spectacular. Jerricho Cotchery also can make key catches as well.There’s no secret to what the Vikings want to do and that’s a big problem. When the quarterback play is deficient, the running game gets hurt because opposing defenses don’t have to respect the running option. Adrian Peterson is starting to get frustrated with the Vikings’ performance, and his tweet probably reflects the way his teammates feel.
- DefenseThe Steelers have been one of the game’s dominant defensive teams for generations, but they have not asserted themselves this season. While the turnovers by the offense were largely responsible for their loss to the Bears, they could not stop Jay Cutler in the final quarter. DE Brett Keisel had a sack against Chicago but the pass rush needs to improve.The Vikings shut down the Browns for the majority of the second half, but they couldn’t do it on the game’s final drive and that cost them the game. Linebacker Erin Henderson had 8 tackles, 2.0 sacks and an interception, but the Vikings need to put more pressure on the quarterback when the game is on the line. Linebacker Chad Greenway remains an impact player.
- Special TeamsShaun Suisham is proving to be an adequate kicker, as he made 3-of-3 field goal attempts against the Bears. He is one of the few Steelers playing with confidence. Zoltan Mesko is coming off a poor game in which he averaged 29.5 yards on his two punts, but he is normally strong.The Vikings can win games with their special teams. Patterson is a burner and he has already returned one kickoff for a touchdown. Blair Walsh is one of the best kickers in the game and Jeff Locke did a decent job punting the ball.
Both teams are among the biggest disappointments in football this season. However, the Steelers have a big edge at quarterback because Ponder is not an NFL-caliber leader. That should be enough for them to pick up their first win of the season. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor