LONDON – If purple wasn’t Steelers left tackle Mike Adams’ least favorite color before Sunday, it sure is now.
Adams, one of the lowest-rated left tackles in the league, according to ProFootballFocus.com, gave up 3½ of the Vikings’ season-high five sacks and also was part of the left-side protection breakdown that led to the strip-sack turnover in the red zone that sealed the Vikings’ 34-27 victory in the closing seconds Sunday at Wembley Stadium.
Jared Allen, who had 2½ sacks across from Adams, said he felt as though the Vikings had Adams off balance the entire game.
“It was one of those games where you want to keep rushing, keep rushing,” Allen said. “I felt across the board, our rush today was pretty nasty.”
The Steelers’ 30th-ranked rushing attack came through with only 77 yards on 21 carries even with rookie Le’Veon Bell making his NFL debut. That, once again, put the pressure on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who dropped back to pass 56 times.
Roethlisberger, as usual, sidestepped as much pressure as possible. But the Vikings’ pass rush was too much to handle.
Besides his 2½ sacks, Allen also forced a holding call on Adams. Allen also pressured Roethlisberger into throwing an interception to Chad Greenway in the third quarter.
Greenway and Allen also teamed up on a stunt blitz call in which Greenway lined up inside of Adams. When the ball was snapped, Allen went inside and Greenway went outside, literally knocking Adams off balance and then racing in for the sack.
“Throughout my career, I’ve always wanted to be active pre-snap and kind of move around to give [offensive linemen] different looks,” Greenway said. “If I don’t get there, another half-step and Jared gets there.”
The last sack came from Everson Griffen, a backup end who rushes from the tackle spot in most nickel packages. He got a great jump at the snap with 19 seconds left and Pittsburgh facing third-and-goal at the 6. Griffen then got good leverage on left guard Kelvin Beachum, standing him up and pushing him back.
Adams made things easier when he slid too far outside when Allen was rushing more to the inside. The wide-open gap allowed Griffen to get past Beachum more easily. Roethlisberger tried to escape, but Griffen dragged him down by the back of his shoulder pads.
Griffen was credited in the game book with causing the fumble. Replays show that either Greenway dislodged it when he slammed into the pile or Allen might have knocked it away a split second earlier.
“Chad said he hit the ball out,” Allen said. “Everson said he hit it. I’m pretty sure I hit it.”
“Who knows who hit it,” Griffen said. “I don’t know. We got the win. That’s all that matters.”