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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Observations from the first half: Vikings trail Pittsburgh 14-3

By Matthew Coller

The Minnesota Vikings are on the road facing off with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Minnesota trails 14-3 at the half. Here are five observations from the first half:

Penalties, penalties, penalties

The Vikings generally aren’t known as a team that kills themselves with penalties, but they have in the first half against the Steelers. Minnesota’s first drive was derailed by a holding penalty, then On Pittsburgh’s first touchdown drive, defensive lineman Brian Robison jumped offside on 4th-and-1 when the Steelers were unlikely to actually snap the ball. A few plays later, Xavier Rhodes was flagged for pass interference, giving the Steelers 22 yards.

On the following touchdown drive, corner Trae Waynes interfered on a deep ball, giving the Steelers 49 yards and a first down inside the red zone. They scored to make the game 14-0 a few plays later.

Xavier Rhodes has been terrific vs Antonio Brown

Even slowed by a hip injury, Rhodes has played like the No. 1 shutdown corner he is. Ben Roethlisberger has tried over and over to force the ball to Brown, but Rhodes has been in his hip pocket on several balls down the field. The only blemish for the Vikings’ top corner is the pass interference penalty.

Brown ended the first half with just three catches on eight targets for 28 yards.

Martavis Bryant is giving the Vikings problems

While Antonio Brown is the big-ticket receiver for the Steelers, Bryant is also an explosive weapon. He averages 17.0 yards per catch for his career coming into Sunday’s game. Bryant beat Terence Newman across the field for a 27-yard touchdown catch, then drew the 49-yard pass interference call.

With Xavier Rhodes largely tracking Brown in the first half, the Vikings will need a solution to slowing Bryant.

Vikings O-line getting beat

It turns out the Steelers are a much bigger challenge than the New Orleans Saints for the Vikings’ offensive line. Pittsburgh’s Cam Heyward has been dominant early, getting after the quarterback and shutting down inside runs. Dalvin Cook hasn’t had many opportunities to break explosive runs, finishing the half with just three yards on six carries and Case Keenum has been under pressure. When Keenum did get the Vikings into scoring position, they were forced to kick a field goal after three straight pressures on Keenum causes errant throws.

The post Observations from the first half: Vikings trail Pittsburgh 14-3 appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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