LONDON — “Business as usual” has been the motto for the Minnesota Vikings and Pittsburgh Steelers ahead of their game in London today
It hardly feels that way.
Both teams have been handed the extra burden of an overseas trip with their seasons on the line. Both are 0-3 going into the game at Wembley Stadium, both aware that a fourth straight loss will all but end their playoff chances.
“This is not a vacation,” Vikings running back Adrian Peterson said. “It’s great to be here in London but 0-3 right now, it’s time for us to get a W. It’s very critical, especially going into the bye week.”
Since the NFL adopted a 16-game regular-season schedule 35 years ago, only five teams that lost their first three games went on to reach the playoffs.
The Vikings are the designated home team, which means spending nearly a full week in England and taking part in off-field activities with the local fan base. Keeping his team focused has been one of Minnesota coach Leslie Frazier’s biggest tasks.
“It’s a fine line, and we talked about what our purpose is here, that this is a regular-season game, an important game,” said Frazier, whose team is coming off a 31-27 loss to the Cleveland Browns. “We have to be mature about how we go about this and spend our free time. Our players understand that.
“You don’t want to be scrooge. This is a great place to be and our players would love to get out, but we have a game to prepare for.”
The Steelers, who fell 40-23 to the Chicago Bears last Sunday, arrived in London on Friday.