Steelers beat Vikings, 26-9, in Heinz Field opener
Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant celebrates the opening touchdown vs. the Minnesota Vikings in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017. Bryant fueled two of the Steelers’ scoring drives in their Heinz Field-opening win against the Vikings. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
PITTSBURGH — The Steelers let the Vikings linger. They did not, however, let them back into Sunday’s game.
Though Martavis Bryant’s 51-yard catch down the left sideline did not lead to a field goal, Pittsburgh didn’t need one. And Minnesota could barely get seven yards without a penalty — much less seven points in one play.
Case Keenum was too inaccurate under pressure or all too literally stumbling into the ground when it waited. A game the Steelers (2-0) could’ve blown out they instead grinded out en route to a 26-9 win in their home opener.
Bryant breaking the game open on a 27-yard catch and coast touchdown with just more than three minutes to play in the first quarter and his streaking down the left sideline in the third gave Pittsburgh all the points it would need, but it was the threat of Bryant as much as the plays he produced in his 91-yard return to meaningful football at Heinz Field that kept Minnesota constantly chasing.
Drawing a pas interference flag on Trae Waynes on the Steelers’ third drive of the day underscored this point better than any other.
Steelers band does ‘Heinz Hustle’
With Antonio Brown bracketed Pittsburgh was free to take shots downfield at its leisure, which was often in the early going. And though Ben Roethlisberger didn’t connect with Brown deep these shots kept the Steelers in as much of a rhythm as Le’Veon Bell grinding out three to four yards at a time does.
In Pittsburgh, balance is an offense with Brown and Bryant on the field.
Most important play
That failed challenge with 2:13 remaining in the game when Mike Zimmer could only hope Laquon Treadwell got both feet down. He did not.
Sometimes the white flag is red.
— Jacob Klinger (@Jacob_Klinger_) September 17, 2017
Pittsburgh consistently pressured a quarterback who wasn’t even trying to hold onto the ball. The Steelers only sacked Case Keenum twice, but he was off-balance in an offense paced by short passes. See, it wasn’t just DeShone Kizer being a rookie in Week 1.
T.J. Watt left the game with a left groin injury in the second quarter, Alejandro Villanueva did the same with heat-related issues in the third and Marcus Gilbert cramped up in the fourth.
The number – 12
The number of times Dalvin Cook carried the ball before Minnesota was down by three possessions’ worth of points with less than two minutes remaining. He looks like a legitimate every down NFL back, but Pittsburgh largely reduced him to a non-factor despite his 5.3 yards per carry.
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