(CNN)The Minnesota Vikings endured a late Pittsburgh Steelers rally to keep their playoff hopes alive with a 36-28 victory on Thursday Night Football.
Having surged into a commanding 29-0 lead by late in the third quarter, the Vikings found themselves inches away from an embarrassing final-play collapse — Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s incomplete pass to Pat Freiermuth in the end zone quashing a potential comeback for the ages.
Vikings safety Harrison Smith flew into tight end Freiermuth to force the incompletion, sparing Minnesota blushes and lifting his team to 6-7 on the year.
Roethlisberger was keen not to put any blame on the 23-year-old rookie, who was said to be devastated by his dropped catch.
“He’s taking it pretty hard,” Roethlisberger told reporters.
“I pulled him next to my locker and talked to him a little bit at the end. I got a lot of faith and belief and trust in that guy — he’s got a lot of heart.
“He’ll eat this for a while and he shouldn’t because it’s not on him.”