PITTSBURGH — Rookie defensive backs Orlando Thomas and Corey Fuller, with only three NFL starts between them, each scored off a near-comedic burst of seven Pittsburgh turnovers, and Minnesota beat the self-destructive Steelers, 44-24, Sunday.
"We pretty much disintegrated," Steeler linebacker Kevin Greene said. "I don't know if we were into it mentally. We like to hammer people, and it's pretty hard for the Pittsburgh Steelers to accept somebody else came in here and hammered us."
The Steelers (2-2), who set an NFL record by playing nine turnover-free games in 1994, already have 17 turnovers in four games, or as many as they had in 16 games last season.
The Vikings' defense, run by former Steelers defensive coordinator Tony Dungy, forced five turnovers and scored twice in a 24-point third quarter.
And it wasn't merely defense for the Vikings (2-2). Robert Smith literally ran out of his shoes on a 58-yard touchdown run, and Warren Moon, who became the first 60,000-yard passer in pro football, threw two touchdown passes to Cris Carter.
Nothing could make a Steeler offense look good against a reconstructed Vikings' defense that has three new secondary starters. Mike Tomczak, who was bad Monday night as the Steelers committed five turnovers in a 23-10 loss in Miami, was even worse, throwing three more interceptions. And Bam Morris was yanked after Fuller returned his fumble 12 yards for a touchdown only 24 seconds into the second half.
"We thought this might be a breakout game," Minnesota linebacker Jack Del Rio said. "In our first meeting at camp, we talked about getting turnovers and scoring off them, and Tony's kept us focused on that."
Jim Miller replaced Tomczak and threw for 195 yards and a touchdown in barely two quarters, but also threw three interceptions.
"I don't know about everybody else, but I'm in a state of shock," Steeler tackle Leon Searcy said. "We've got a championship-caliber team, but not when we play like this."
Moon was 17 for 30 for 213 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions to give him 60,055 career passing yards, 21,228 in the CFL.