Final

Vikings 17

(6-1, 3-1 away)

Steelers 27

(5-2, 4-0 home)

Coverage: FOX

1:00 PM ET, October 25, 2009

Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA 

1 2 3 4 T
MIN 0 7 3 717
PIT 3 7 3 1427

Top Performers

Passing: B. Favre (MIN) - 334 YDS, 1 INT

Rushing: A. Peterson (MIN) - 18 CAR, 69 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: S. Rice (MIN) - 10 REC, 136 YDS

Steelers return fumble, interception for touchdowns to hand Vikings first loss

Associated Press

PITTSBURGH -- Brett Favre, Adrian Peterson and the Minnesota Vikings were anything but perfect.

The Vikings couldn't gain a half-yard when it might have turned the game, then watched the Steelers' big-play defense end their unbeaten season with two long touchdown returns in the final 6½ minutes.

More from ESPN.com

The defending Super Bowl champions did more than help an offense that for much of the game failed to take advantage of field position, writes Len Pasquarelli. Story


Minnesota played better in its loss Sunday at Pittsburgh than it did last week in a victory last week over Baltimore, writes Kevin Seifert. Blog

LaMarr Woodley's 77-yard fumble return and Keyaron Fox's 82-yard interception return on turnovers by Favre allowed the Steelers to turn back Minnesota's repeated comeback attempts, and the Steelers rode three major defensive stands to an important 27-17 victory Sunday.

The anticipated quarterback showdown between Favre and NFL passing leader Ben Roethlisberger became a defensive duel. And the Super Bowl champion Steelers (5-2) -- No. 1 defensively the last two seasons -- are tough to beat in any game that's decided by defense.

The Vikings (6-1) conceded as much in the third quarter when, after failing to score from a half-yard out on three plays in which Peterson got the ball only once, they settled for a field goal that kept Pittsburgh in the lead at 13-10.

Favre's Big Mistakes

Vikings QB Brett Favre was a much better passer than Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger in the second half in all but one category -- turnovers.

Favre Roethlisberger
Cmp-Att 24-32 3-7
Yards 247 55
Turnovers 2 0
Opp pts off TO 14 0

-- ESPN Stats and Information

To the Steelers, the goal-line stand was as decisive as the two defensive touchdowns that followed.

"That's the biggest point of the game," safety Ryan Clark said. "You have the best running back in the world and you don't give it to him. They're saying they can't beat us running, and that's a major statement when you have the guy they have back there."

Woodley's return, with the linebacker huffing and puffing for the final 30 yards after Brett Keisel stripped Favre of the ball, was reminiscent of James Harrison's 100-yard interception return for a touchdown in the Super Bowl against Arizona. Coach Mike Tomlin called it "one of those slow-motion moments that are a joy in this business."

Fast Facts

• A pair of fourth quarter defensive touchdowns led the Steelers over the Vikings, who lost for the first time this season.

• Lamarr Woodley returned a Brett Favre fumble 77 yards and Keyaron Fox ran back an interception 82 yards, both for scores.

• The Steelers have won 10 straight at home since last season, including the playoffs.

• Favre threw for 334 yards, his most in a game without a touchdown pass. It was also Favre's most passing yards in a loss since 2006.

• Sidney Rice had 11 catches for 136 yards and has 312 receiving yards in his last two games.

• The Vikings lost for the first time this season and were unable to eclipse their 6-0 start from 2003. The loss also ended the Vikings' six-game road win streak.

• Rapid Reaction

-- ESPN Stats & Information

The touchdown put the Steelers up 20-10 with 6:23 remaining, after the Vikings drove to the Steelers 8 and were in position to take their first lead since Peterson's 2-yard touchdown run put them up 7-3 in the second quarter.

"I got to the 40 and I didn't think I was going to make it," Woodley said.

The Vikings weren't done, not in this season of last-minute surprises. Percy Harvin answered with an 88-yard kickoff return touchdown, but Favre couldn't pull this one out after twice previously rallying the Vikings in the closing minutes.

"There were a lot of what ifs, a lot of reasons we didn't win," Favre said. "The red zone was one of them. They're physical, and they were as good as we thought they'd be. ... When I came here and looked at our schedule [and saw the Steelers game], I went, 'Oh-h-h.' "

With Favre hitting Peterson on a 29-yard pass play, the Vikings drove to the Steelers 18 with just over a minute remaining, and their biggest victory of an improbably good season awaited.

But Fox intercepted Favre's pass intended for Chester Taylor and returned it almost the length of the field, with nearly every Viking except Favre in pursuit. Favre had been intercepted only twice previously.

"Brett tried to force it in there and the running back bobbled it and slipped out of his hands and it fell into my lap," Fox said. "I had just run across the field after Peterson and I was winded, so it felt like it was 100-plus yards."

The Vikings' most significant missed opportunity came when they had the ball only a foot or so from the goal line midway through the third period. Peterson, held to 69 yards on 18 carries after averaging 161.5 yards in his first two games against AFC North teams, failed to get in on first down.

On the next two downs, Favre couldn't get the ball to covered receivers in the end zone. Coach Brad Childress then settled for Ryan Longwell's 18-yard field goal rather than go for it on fourth down, as the crowd of 65,597 -- a Steelers record at Heinz Field -- loudly cheered the potentially decisive stand.

"We had three chances," Favre said. "It's easy to look back now and say we should've done this or should've done that. I would think handing it to Adrian, he'd get it in. I'm sure he will say he should've went in, but ..."

Said Peterson, "Playing against the Pittsburgh Steelers and their defense -- I felt it's the best defense we're going to face -- you've got to get those seven points. I was highly upset about having to settle for three points."

Favre (34 of 51, 334 yards) was better statistically than Roethlisberger (14 of 26, 175 yards) -- except for the turnovers. The Vikings outgained Pittsburgh 386-259, but couldn't outscore the Steelers defense.

Game notes


Steelers DE Travis Kirschke (calf) and LB Lawrence Timmons (ankle) left with injuries during the frantic fourth quarter, after Vikings WR Bernard Berrian (left leg) was pulled. ... Minnesota had only four turnovers in its first six games. ... Pittsburgh hasn't allowed a 100-yard rusher in its last 25 regular-season games.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
MIN
PIT
1st Downs2114
Passing 1st downs
165
Rushing 1st downs
56
1st downs from Penalties
03
3rd down efficiency
9-184-12
4th down efficiency
1-10-0
Total Plays7749
Total Yards386259
Yards per play5.05.3
Total Drives1310
Passing297152
Comp - Att
33-5014-26
Yards per pass
5.95.8
Interceptions thrown
10
Sacks - Yards Lost
4-374-23
Rushing89107
Rushing Attempts
2319
Yards per rush
3.95.6
Red Zone (Made-Att)1-50-3
Penalties11-783-15
Turnovers21
Fumbles lost
11
Interceptions thrown
10
Defensive / Special Teams TDs12
Possession36:5823:02

Passing Leaders

MINC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Favre33/503346.7014-37
PITC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Roethli...14/261756.7104-23

Rushing Leaders

MINCARYDSAVGTDLG
Peterson18693.8119
Taylor3144.7010
PITCARYDSAVGTDLG
Mendenhall10696.9017
Wallace2199.5013

Receiving Leaders

MINRECYDSAVGTDLGTGTS
Rice1013613.603414
Peterson46015.00294
PITRECYDSAVGTDLGTGTS
Wallace37224.01404
Holmes25929.50457

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERMINPIT
pitFG00:04Jeff Reed 39 Yd 03
SECOND QUARTERMINPIT
minTD05:12Adrian Peterson 2 Yd Run (Ryan Longwell Kick) 73
pitTD00:24Mike Wallace 40 Yd Pass From Ben Roethlisberger (Jeff Reed Kick) 710
THIRD QUARTERMINPIT
pitFG11:05Jeff Reed 27 Yd 713
minFG04:44Ryan Longwell 18 Yd 1013
FOURTH QUARTERMINPIT
pitTD06:23LaMarr Woodley 77 Yd Fumble Return (Jeff Reed Kick) 1020
minTD06:09Percy Harvin 88 Yd Kickoff Return (Ryan Longwell Kick) 1720
pitTD01:00Keyaron Fox 82 Yd Interception Return (Jeff Reed Kick) 1727