Mike Tomlin, former Viking defensive coordinator (2006) and present head coach of the defending champ Steelers, is 18-4 at home since getting plucked by Pittsburgh brass as a 34-year-old assistant. In what will prove the 6-0 Vikings' most daunting test to date, Past portends Prologue lest the Purple can take advantage of a rare Steeler weakness.
Pitt is 4-2 on the season, a record which includes a Week 2 loss at the now 3-2 Bears and a rare home hiccup to upstart Cincinnati, whose record mirrors that of the Steelers in the AFC North. Recent history between the Vikings and Steelers is spare, and prognostication is bare of even a Pitt result versus Week 6 Vikings opponent, Baltimore, whom the Steelers face twice in the final six weeks of the season. Further evidence of the showdown's scarcity can be witnessed in the fact that this is Minnesota's first trip to Pittsburgh since 2001. In addition, Brett Favre -- he of nearly 280 regular season games played -- has opposed the Steely prospect on just four previous occasions, going 2-2 lifetime.
Yet, despite the lack of New Millennium history -- it's well-worthy of note that the Steelers sport several familiar faces. Tomlin aside, we'll see longtime Viking back Mewelde Moore oft-appearing in third down situations, just as we'll see St. Michael-native and former Gopher Matt Spaeth as a backup tight end. Spaeth was issued a disorderly conduct citation for peeing in a parking lot after Pitt's win over the Cleveland Browns last week. Insiders report that he was too sauced to employ or aptly pronounce Seinfeld's "uromysitisis" excuse to authorities. One other lil' caveat here: while starting running back Rashard Mendenhall has yet to face the Vikings, his last matchup with a Minnesota team did not serve us well. Nearly two years ago to the day (11/3/07), Mendenhall, then an Illinois back, torched the Gophers for over 200 yards at the Metrodome.
On the defensive side, former Gopher and 1999 Jim Thorpe Award winner Ty Carter will adorably appear in nickel and dime packages. The diminutive d-back continues to throw his body and dreads about sans abandon, and earned deserved praise for stepping up while Pitt's All-Earth safety, Troy Polamalu, was out with a bum knee. Polamalu returned last week after missing four games, and looks to play on Sunday. In the humble opinion of Yours Truly, this guy is the finest defensive player in football.
As per the afore-noted "rare weakness," the Steelers sport a really poor Turnover differential of -4 on the season, among the worst in the AFC. They've coughed the rock over a haughty 12 times in six games, a mark buoyed by three fumbles and one Ben Roethlisberger pick last week against Cleveland. Inversely, the Vikings are an impressive +9 in the Give/Take category, tied for second-best in the NFL. Of further note, the Vikings lead the NFC with 21 sacks. "Big" Ben has a habit of standing long and tall in the pocket, although despite his 16 takedowns on the year, dude also leads the league in passing with nearly 1,900 aerial yards.
The Purple defense may be without the great Antoine Winfield on Sunday, which won't behoove our porous #24 standing of 248 pass yards allowed per game. For the Vikings to improve to 7-0, it will be incumbent upon league-leading rusher Adrian Peterson to continually stomp over the shittiest playing surface in the league and keep both Polamalu and standout linebacker James Harrison on their heels and off of Favre's ass.
Like pithy observation? Join City Pages' fresh and shiny CP Sports Twitter today!
And how us your SportsFace -- follow in on the discussion via Judd's Facebook. Please click here to become a pal today.