VIKINGS 14, STEELERS 3
Steelers' record: 0-1
One year ago: 0-0
Preseason series record: Vikings lead, 8-2
The Pittsburgh Steelers took on the Minnesota Vikings to kick off the 2015 preseason in the NFL/Pro Football Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio.
Had this been a regular season meeting, there would have been multiple storylines, with most of them interesting. Vikings wide receiver Mike Wallace getting a crack at his former team's new-look defensive secondary; the return of Adrian Peterson and his matchup against the Steelers' defensive line now playing an attacking style; and Minnesota's second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater vs. first-year defensive coordinator Keith Butler, to list a few.
But this was the preseason opener, the first of five preseason games for both of these teams, and so the entire exercise was geared more toward evaluating your own personnel in game-type situations in the players' first exposure of the year to outside-their-own-locker-room competition. This was going to be more about getting out of the huddle and snapping the ball before the play-clock expires, and having 11 on the field for every snap, and having all of those 11 playing the same defense at the same time, and not turning the ball over, etc. Sloppiness leads to slappyness, and slappyness gets guys cut.
In the first half, the Steelers committed two pre-snap penalties on offense and had one turnover, that coming on a fumble by C.J. Goodwin following a reception from Landry Jones that would have been good for a first down. In the second half, there was another turnover – on a fumble by Jesse James after a reception – and the defense committed a pre-snap penalty by being offside.
The Steelers trailed, 7-3, and had the ball with a first down at the Minnesota 2-yard line with 1:54 remaining in the first half. On first down, Cameron Stingily gained 1 yard, and things went downhill from there. The second down play was ruined by a quick snap from center Reese Dismukes when Landry Jones looked to be changing the protection and the resulting pass fell incomplete. On third down, Devin Gardner had a pass go through his hands. On fourth down Jesse James dropped a certain touchdown pass. Instead of a lead and some momentum going into the locker room at halftime, the Steelers still trailed, 7-3.
STAT THAT STANDS OUT I
The first half, while reflective of what could have been expected from the first of five preseason games, was not what Coach Mike Tomlin wanted to see from his team. The Steelers offense committed two pre-snap penalties, it turned to ball over on a lost fumble at the Vikings 34-yard line, and it was 0-for-2 in the red zone, including no points on four plays from a first-and-goal from the 2-yard line.
GIVEN THE NIGHT OFF
During his news conference on Friday, Aug. 7, Coach Mike Tomlin said Ben Roethlisberger, Le'Veon Bell, Heath Miller, Antonio Brown, Maurkice Pouncey, and James Harrison would not play at all vs. the Vikings. Others not in uniform for the Hall of Fame Game were Martavis Bryant, Markus Wheaton, Jarvis Jones, Mike Mitchell, and Shamarko Thomas.
Jerome Bettis is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
HALL OF FAME HISTORY I**
As part of the Class of 2015, Jerome Bettis was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame the night before the game. He was presented by his brother, John. Here is a list of Steelers' previous Hall of Famers and the name of each man's presenter: ART ROONEY SR.: David L. Lawrence, former Governor of Pennsylvania; DAN ROONEY: Joe Greene; ERNIE STAUTNER: Art Rooney Sr.; BOBBY LAYNE: Buddy Parker; JOE GREENE: Chuck Noll; JOHN HENRY JOHNSON: Art Rooney Sr.: JACK HAM: Joe Paterno; MEL BLOUNT: Dan Rooney; TERRY BRADSHAW: Vern Lundquist, CBS play-by-play announcer; FRANCO HARRIS: Lynn Swann; JACK LAMBERT: Dennis Fitzgerald, Kent State assistant football coach, and Steelers assistant coach; CHUCK NOLL: Dan Rooney: MIKE WEBSTER: Terry Bradshaw; LYNN SWANN: John Stallworth; JOHN STALLWORTH: John Stallworth Jr.; ROD WOODSON: Tracy Foster, friend and business associate; JACK BUTLER: John Butler, son; and DERMONTTI DAWSON: Steve Parker, his football coach at Bryan Station High School in Lexington, Kentucky.
HALL OF FAME HISTORY II
Following the loss to the Vikings, the Steelers now are 3-3 in Hall of Fame games. They defeated the Browns in 1963, the Saints in 1983, and then the Saints again in 2007. They lost to the Baltimore Colts in 1964, the Buccaneers in 1998, and the Vikings last night.