"I can't turn the ball over, plain and simple," Roethlisberger said.
The Vikings lead their all-time regular-season series with the Steelers 8-7 but the only previous time these two franchises met on a neutral field was back in Super Bowl IX which Pittsburgh won, 16-6, in New Orleans.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
The Cleveland game was a complete meltdown in every aspect for the Vikings. Coaching, special teams play, the defense and of course the continued poor play from the QB position have turned a playoff team from a year ago into a sinking ship.
Defensively, Minnesota's cover-2 base defense is really starting to be exploited consistently in a league skewed toward offense. The team's reliance on zone coverages breeds indecision in young defensive backs and like most neophytes these days Minnesota's DBs are poor tacklers so even when they do keep things in front of them, it often results in a back or receiver shaking off a tackler or two for a first down.
Defensive coordinator Alan Williams also has little feel on gameday. Take last Sunday for example, when the Vikings pass rush wasn't getting home in the first half and Hoyer looked like his old mentor, Tom Brady, while shredding the Vikings' base cover-2 looks.
To his credit Williams dialed up the blitz early and often throughout the second half and Hoyer was rendered ineffective until the game-winning drive when Williams reverted back to what is an ugly default setting.
Only when it was too late did Williams go back to aggression and it didn't work as the blitz didn't get home and Harrison Smith -- perhaps Williams' only plus player these days -- let Cameron get his outside shoulder for an easy TD.
Right now Frazier and Williams are pounding the square peg in the round hole and even their effective players are starting to lose confidence as they watch the opposition move up and down the field with relative ease.
To make matters even worse for the Vikings, the team could be without three DBs, including two starters against Pittsburgh. Cornerback Chris Cook bowed out early against the Browns with a groin injury and safety Jamarca Sanford also was forced to leave after straining a hamstring. Both players -- along with reserve corner A.J. Jefferson (ankle) -- are unlikely to suit up against the Steelers.
And we haven't even addressed the elephant in the room when it comes to Minnesota, an organization which has inexplicably married itself to a quarterback who simply can't play at the NFL level.
Ponder remains wildly inaccurate as a thrower and plays with little self- confidence. He continues to slide out of the pocket at the first sign of trouble instead of stepping up into it and he needs receivers to run virtually perfect routes, otherwise he's always a threat to throw the pick-six.
Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave must have called the same roll out to the right side 10 different times against the Browns because Ponder simply can't execute anything else. The embattled signal caller's most egregious error against the Browns, however, was a run of the mill incompletion on 3rd-and-4 from the Minnesota 20 with 3 1/2 minutes left. Greg Jennings was wide open on a simple corner route for a first down and Ponder flashed the control of Steve Blass or Rink Ankiel, throwing it high and outside.
An easy conversion was missed and the rest was history. The Browns got the ball back and Hoyer -- in just his second career start -- was everything Ponder wasn't.