Tue | Dec 12, 2017

Steelers shut down Bradford-less Vikings 26-9

Published:Monday | September 18, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant (10) celebrates in the end zone after taking a pass from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings in Pittsburgh yesterday.

PITTSBURGH (AP):

Ben Roethlisberger threw a pair of first-half touchdown passes, Le'Veon Bell ran for 87 yards, and the Pittsburgh Steelers kept the Minnesota Vikings in check during a 26-9 victory yesterday.

Roethlisberger hit Martavis Bryant for a 27-yard score in the first quarter and flipped a shovel pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster that the rookie turned into a 4-yard score. Roethlisberger finished 23 of 35 for 243 yards and the two scores as the Steelers (2-0) improved to 10-1 in home openers under Mike Tomlin.

Minnesota (1-1) played without quarterback Sam Bradford, who sat out with a left-knee injury. Case Keenum struggled to get anything going in Bradford's absence, throwing for just 167 yards on 20 of 35 passing.

Vikings rookie Dalvin Cook ran for 64 yards, but Minnesota failed to generate any real momentum against Pittsburgh's rejuvenated defence.

Pittsburgh's 'Killer B' offence didn't exactly light it up in Cleveland in a methodical Week 1 victory. Head coach Mike Tomlin pointed to marked improvement in Week 2, and while the fireworks most expected did not materialise, Bryant and Bell both took significant steps forward.

Bryant caught three passes for 90 yards, including his first touchdown in 20 months and also drew a pass interference penalty that set up Smith-Schuster's score. Both Steeler wide receivers took advantage of the NFL's relaxed celebration rules, imitating rolling dice while being surrounded by teammates.

 

SPOTTY PLAY

 

Bell was limited to just 13 touches against the Browns, something Tomlin attributed more to spotty play around Bell rather than his extended sabbatical following an offseason contract impasse. The workload was significantly heavier in Bell's second week back. He ran the ball 27 times and added three receptions for two yards. While his longest play was only an 11-yard run, he helped the Steelers run the clock in the second half to protect their sizeable lead.

Last week, Minnesota's offence looked efficient with Bradford running things in an easy opening victory over New Orleans. Bradford tweaked his left knee during the game.

Enter Keenum, who went 9-15 as a starter with Houston and the Rams before signing on with Minnesota. The Vikings offensive line had trouble giving Keenum time in the pocket, and the results were often checkdowns that went nowhere.

Minnesota's only touchdown came on a 1-yard plunge by fullback CJ Ham that drew the Vikings within 17-9 early in the third quarter. Kai Forbath missed the extra point and Pittsburgh responded with a 10-play, 74-yard drive that ended with the second of Chris Boswell's four field goals with 4:59 left in the third. The Vikings never threatened again.