THURSDAY NIGHT PREVIEW:
PITTSBURGH STEELERS (6-5-1) AT MINNESOTA VIKINGS (5-7)
Week 14 of the 2021 NFL season gets underway on Thursday, December 9 (8:20 PM ET, FOX/NFL Network/Amazon) as the Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5-1) visit the Minnesota Vikings (5-7) in a key late-season interconference matchup. Each club enters the week within one game of playoff position in their respective conferences. The Vikings lead the all-time regular-season series, 9-8, with the home team winning each of the past three meetings. Pittsburgh also defeated Minnesota in Super Bowl IX, 16-6, following the 1974 season. In their last contest, Week 2 of the 2017 season, Steelers quarterback BEN ROETHLISBERGER passed for 243 yards and two touchdowns for a 104.8 rating as Pittsburgh earned a 26-9 victory over Minnesota.
The Steelers are coming off a dramatic victory over division rival Baltimore, as Roethlisberger connected with wide receiver DIONTAE JOHNSON for a five-yard touchdown pass with under two minutes remaining to give Pittsburgh the lead. The defense then denied Baltimore’s two-point attempt with 12 seconds remaining to secure the 20-19 win. Roethlisberger passed for 236 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions for a 111.8 rating in the victory. In six of his past seven starts, Roethlisberger has not thrown an interception and recorded a rating of 90-or-higher. In his past three starts on Thursday Night Football, Roethlisberger has 12 touchdown passes with no interceptions for a 142 rating. He enters the game with 2,758 passing yards and can become the sixth player ever with 3,000 passing yards in 15 career seasons.
Johnson led the team with eight catches for 105 receiving yards and a season-high two touchdowns last week. He aims for his fourth in a row with at least 95 receiving yards and his eighth in a row with at least five catches. Running back NAJEE HARRIS recorded his sixth game with at least 100 scrimmage yards, the most among all rookies. He has scored a touchdown in each of Pittsburgh’s three primetime games this season and looks to extend that streak on Thursday night. Harris leads all rookies with 1,166 scrimmage yards (779 rushing, 387 receiving) and ranks second with seven touchdowns (five rushing, two receiving).
Linebacker T.J. WATT forced a fumble and registered a career-high 3.5 sacks in Week 13 and is the only player in the league with at least three sacks in multiple games this season (three sacks in Week 9). He enters Thursday leading the league with a career-high 16 sacks and joined Pro Football Hall of Famer REGGIE WHITE (1985-88; 1990-93) as the only players with at least 13 sacks in four consecutive seasons since 1982, when the individual sack became an official statistic. Watt needs one more sack to surpass JAMES HARRISON (16 sacks in 2008) for the single-season franchise record. Safety MINKAH FITZPATRICK has recorded an interception in each of the past two games. In his only career game against Minnesota, he had a 50-yard interception return for a touchdown (December 16, 2018 with Miami).
The Vikings find themselves within one game of a playoff spot entering Week 14. Quarterback KIRK COUSINS passed for 340 yards and two touchdowns for a 116.7 rating last week and has 25 touchdown passes this season. He is the fifth player ever with at least 25 touchdown passes in seven consecutive seasons. He currently ranks second in the league with a 106.3 rating in 2021. Running back ALEXANDER MATTISON had 124 scrimmage yards (90 rushing, 34 receiving) last week and has rushed for a touchdown in each of the past two games. Running back DALVIN COOK needs 25 scrimmage yards for his third-straight 1,000-yard season.
Wide receiver JUSTIN JEFFERSON set career highs in catches (11) and receiving yards (182) last week. It marked his 12th-career game with at least 100 receiving yards, the second-most by a player in his first two seasons in the Super Bowl era. He enters Thursday with 2,609 career receiving yards, the third-most by a player in his first two seasons in the Super Bowl era. In 2021, Jefferson ranks second in the league with 1,209 receiving yards.
Linebacker ERIC KENDRICKS leads the team with 109 tackles and is one of two players (BOBBY WAGNER) with at least 100 tackles in each of the past six seasons. Safety HARRISON SMITH is the only player in the league with at least 25 interceptions (29) and 15 sacks (15.5) since 2012.
FOX will broadcast 10 Thursday Night Football games between Weeks 5-15 (excluding Thanksgiving night). Thursday’s game is slated to be simulcast via NFL Network, distributed in Spanish on FOX Deportes and streamed on Amazon Prime Video.
The game will feature Joe Buck, Pro Football Hall of Famer Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews and Kristina Pink on the call for FOX. The Amazon broadcast features Andrea Kremer and Hannah Storm, and the Amazon Scout’s feed is called by Bucky Brooks, Daniel Jeremiah and Joy Taylor.
For the Week 14 Pittsburgh-Minnesota capsule, click here.