Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Vikings’ Michael Pierce returns after one-year layoff, makes big impact on defensive line

Cincinnati — Vikings defensive tackle Michael Pierce hasn’t played an NFL game in more than 600 days, so pardon him for missing out on Sunday’s season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals.

“I woke up super, super early without an alarm,” said Pierce, the 340-pounder who opted to play last season because of COVID. “I was ready, and I think I played very well. Obviously, I jumped offside, and it took a big game, so some things got me tight. But I think it was a good start. ”

The fact that Pierce brought up his mistake before any of his big plays tells a lot about him. Thrilled when Pierce needed two sacks and two tackles to defeat in his return to live football, it came in a losing effort as the Vikings suffered a 27–24 overtime defeat.

“You always think of the dramas that lead to the big plays,” Pierce said. “I’ve jumped offside once in my career, and that was my rookie year. I think someone asked me about it in the interview last week, actually. I said to someone, ‘When the center moves you You move. So I didn’t do that well. I would think about it a lot because it made a big game out of it.

On that particular game, Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow used free play to his advantage and fired a deep shot to the right edge. In the process, Vikings cornerback Basaud Breeland was tagged in for a 26-yard pass interference penalty and the Bengals scored a touchdown a few plays later.

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As tough as Pierce was after the game, he did more than enough to make up for any of his mistakes, even if he didn’t admit it. Like when Bengals coach Zack Taylor inexplicably decided to go fourth more inches from his 30-yard line, Pierce was the front of the wall that forced the turnover down.

“It’s our job to win those matchups and prove we’re the best on the field,” Pierce said before turning his attention to Week 2 games in Arizona next Sunday. “We gave up on a lot of big plays to win the game today. We have a lot of work to do. Thank God we got to a game in six days.”

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It’s worth noting that Pierce allowed himself to celebrate his personal successes despite overtime losses. If only for a moment.

“It feels great,” he said. “For someone who has three and a half sacks of career, coming out with two sacks after a year and a half off, it was great. It was about proving me (co-defensive coordinator Andre Patterson) right about getting me here. Thank you for coming back on the field and having fun. ”

Vikings' Michael Pierce returns after one-year layoff, makes big impact on defensive line
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