Well, what we speculated about the pass-heavy game plans of the Steelers and Vikings turned out to be correct -- at least on the Vikings' part. Brett Favre(notes), playing from behind in the second half, threw 32 passes in the final 30 minutes alone (51 total), and several of those were straight-up heaves downfield against Pittsburgh's fast defense. Ben Roethlisberger(notes) matched Favre with 19 passing attempts in the first half, then dialed it down as the Steelers took command of the game -- he attempted only seven passes in the second half. Favre was constantly under siege from Pittsburgh's defense -- there were as many short bailout throws as there were long bombs. He was sacked four times and was on the receiving end of six quarterback hits. When he did hit his receivers, they were punished as well. Percy Harvin(notes) was completely lit up by safety Ryan Clark(notes) on a throw over the middle that Favre probably shouldn't have made.
Still, with all the pressure, the Vikings were in the game down 20-17 until late in the fourth quarter, when linebacker Keyaron Fox(notes) picked off a Favre pass and ran it back 82 yards for a touchdown. That was one of three occurrences that stopped the Vikings from winning the game. The second was Favre's fumble that was returned by linebacker LaMarr Woodley(notes) 77 yards for a touchdown, and the third was a drive that concluded with the Vikings having to settle for a field goal despite the fact that they started their final four downs with first-and-goal at the 1-yard line. On that succession of plays, Adrian Peterson got the ball on first down and Favre threw incompletions on second and third down. Peterson carried the ball only 18 times, and the Vikings still owned time of possession 36:58 to 23:02. And Peterson gave one back to Pittsburgh for the Harvin hit, absolutely destroying cornerback William Gay on one of his carries. Taking the ball out of Peterson's hands was a very questionable decision, and the Vikings will regret it as they contemplate a game they could have won.