Thursday Night Football: Vikings withstand furious Steelers rally in 36-28 victory – NBC Sports

Thursday Night Football: Vikings withstand furious Steelers rally in 36-28 victory – NBC Sports
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Pittsburgh Steelers v Minnesota Vikings

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The Minnesota Vikings just can’t do anything easy.

After jumping out to a 29-0 lead over the Pittsburgh Steelers, it took a Harrison Smith pass breakup of a throw into the end zone to Pat Freiermuth on the final play of regulation to ultimately seal away a 36-28 victory on Thursday night.

Dalvin Cook rushed for 205 yards and two touchdowns to help Minnesota jump out to their massive lead. The Vikings out-gained the Steelers by a 300-66 margin in the first half in building their 23-0 advantage at the break.

Pittsburgh didn’t get on the board until four minutes were left in the third quarter on a 3-yard touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Najee Harris. But the Steelers would score three touchdowns in a five-minute span — including a rushing touchdown from Harris and a 30-yard strike from Roethlisberger to James Washington — to trim the lead to 29-20 with 12:11 left to play.

Harris finished the game with 94 yards rushing with a touchdown and three catches for 10 yards and a touchdown.

A 62-yard touchdown strike from Kirk Cousins to K.J. Osborn then seemingly provided the knockout blow for the Vikings as the lead was extended to 36-20 with just under 11 minutes left to play. However, Ahkello Witherspoon intercepted Cousins for a second time to set up another Steelers touchdown, a 15-yard connection from Roethlisberger to Freiermuth, to make it an eight-point game with just over four minutes left to play.

Cook came through again catching a 17-yard pass from Cousins on third-and-8 with 2:38 left to allow Minnesota to force Pittsburgh to expend its allotment of timeouts. Pittsburgh took over with 2:16 left needing to go 96 yards for the tying touchdown and two-point conversion.

Chase Claypool caught a 38-yard bomb up the right sideline from Roethlisberger despite being interfered with by Bashaud Breeland to move Pittsburgh near midfield. Claypool then cost Pittsburgh several seconds celebrating a conversion on fourth-and-1 as the clock continued to tick down. Ultimately, the Steelers got one attempt from the 12-yard line with three seconds left as Smith dislodged the ball from Freiermuth to give the Vikings the victory.

No team in NFL history had lost a regular season game when leading by 29 or more points. The Vikings sure tried to become the first. The San Francisco 49ers rallied from a 35-7 deficit to beat the New Orleans Saints 38-35 in overtime in 1980. The Buffalo Bills hold the postseason record, overcoming a 32-point lead from the Houston Oilers in January, 1993.

Justin Jefferson caught a 14-yard touchdown from Cousins to open the scoring for Minnesota. After a 38-yard field goal from Greg Joseph, Cook’s two touchdown runs made it a 23-0 lead at the half. Joseph would add kicks from 42 and 25 yards in the third quarter to extend the lead to 29-0 before the Steelers began their rally.

Roethlisberger finished with 308 yards and three touchdowns with an interception for Pittsburgh with 240 yards coming in the second half.

Cousins threw for 216 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions for Minnesota.