It isn't a secret that the Pittsburgh Steelers (0-3) have struggled so far in the 2013 NFL regular season. In nearly every aspect, the Steelers have experienced execution errors that have been painfully costly. While a trip to Wembley Stadium in London, England, may be a nice change of pace as far as location goes, the game against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday is still a regular season game. And, the Steelers still need to go out onto the field and show that they can win a game regardless of the locale.
The Steelers have seen their biggest struggles on offense at this point in the season. With a young offensive line and new zone-blocking scheme during the running game being less than effective, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and the running backs corps of Felix Jones, Isaac Redman, Jonathan Dwyer and Le'Veon Bell are facing a critical time. Without the necessary protection, Roethlisberger hasn't been as effective in 2013. Although he has continued to extend plays, offensive line miscues have given up 10 sacks for a loss of 72 yards. Roethlisberger was responsible for four turnovers (2 fumbles and 2 interceptions) against the Chicago Bears. The rushing game has only put up 155 yards. Pass protection breakdowns have limited receiving to 776 yards.
Leading up to Week 4 in the NFL, the Steelers have accumulated a mere 173 yards of offense with a 5.4 yard-per-play average. This has forced the Steelers defense to try to win games or at least get the offense back onto the field. With a rather one-sided offense, the defense has still been at a much lower production level in 2013. The Steelers have recorded only three sacks; Brett Keisel has one and LaMarr Woodley two. Pittsburgh has yet to garner any interceptions.
The Minnesota Vikings (0-3) have had struggles of their own. Starting quarterback Christian Ponder (ribs) will watch as former Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel takes his place. Ponder has completed just 59-of-100 passes for two touchdowns, has been intercepted five times and sacked 10 times for a loss of 44 yards. In total offensive yards, the Vikings have 1,009 with a 196 plays and 5.1 yards-per-play average. Adrian Peterson, who had a remarkable return following a serious knee injury in 2012 has only carried the ball 69 times for 281 yards and three touchdowns. Ponder has had the second-most carries with 15 for 76 yards and two touchdowns. Cassel isn't as nimble-footed. The Vikings' leading receiver is Jerome Simpson with 12 catches for 218 yards and no touchdowns.
Defensively, the Vikings have been able to sack opposing quarterbacks four times for a loss and have forced four fumbles. Minnesota has been somewhat successful in their defensive backfield. Erin Henderson and Harrison Smith lead the team with two interceptions. Chad Greenway and Kevin Williams have one interception respectfully. In this list we will examine key matchups between the two teams and five keys to the Steelers walking away as victors and redeeming a season that has yet to prove it will be anything other than mediocre.
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