Big plays make a difference

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By Teresa Varley
Steelers.com

In his press conference after the Steelers win over the Vikings at Heinz Field, Coach Mike Tomlin referred to the two touchdowns scored on defense as "splash plays."

Many others took it a step further and called them game-savers.

Twice in the fourth quarter, with the Vikings in the red zone, the defense came up with two huge turnovers and converted both of them into touchdowns, which would ultimately be the difference maker on the scoreboard.


With 6:42 left in the game and the Vikings on the eight-yard line, Brett Favre was sacked by Brett Keisel, knocking the ball free. LaMarr Woodley recovered and lumbered down the field 77 yards for a touchdown, putting the Steelers on top 20-10 instead of potentially facing a come-from-behind battle.

"I saw the ball come out and I saw it lying on the ground," said Woodley. "My thought process (was to) fall on it, or pick it up. I decided to pick it up. I was taking a chance. But then, when you pick it up, you might as well get what you can get and make (something) out of it. I made a touchdown out of it.

"I was just thinking, 'Legs, get me there,'" said Woodley. "At one point, I looked to my left and saw an offensive lineman coming. I'm thinking, 'I can't let this guy catch me or I'll never hear the end of it.' I didn't want to be embarrassed watching it on film."

The excitement didn't last long though. Percy Harvin returned the ensuing kickoff 88-yards for a touchdown, putting the Vikings right back in the thick of things at 20-17.

On a defense where everyone is asked to step up, this time it was Keyaron Fox who came through. Fox was on the field because fellow linebacker Lawrence Timmons was injured earlier in the game. So with just 1:15 on the clock and the ball at the 19-yard line, Favre was looking to either send the game into overtime or go home a winner. He fired a pass to Chester Taylor, but the ball tipped off his hands and Fox was right there for the interception. Fox took off running, taking it all the way back for an 82-yard touchdown to secure a 27-17 win.


"My first thought was to get down and let our offense run out the clock," said Fox. "Then I thought, 'I can't turn down this opportunity to be a hero.' I took full advantage of that.

"I think Ziggy (Hood) was the first guy to get to me in the end zone. We just kind of looked at each other and it was like, 'Yep, that'll do it.' "

And that it did. It was the first time since 1998 that the Steelers had two defensive touchdowns in one game, when Dwayne Washington had two interception returns for scores against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

"You know what? On our defense we always try to go out there and not just get turnovers, but try to put points on the board," said Woodley. "I was able to get to the ball and (Keyaron) Fox made a big play when the other team was driving, in field goal range, where they might be able to get a touchdown. And Fox got the interception. I thought maybe he was going to fall down. Once he took off running, I didn't really have any speed to block for him. Some other guys stepped up, he took it to the house and really put the game away."

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