On a day when Ambassador Dan Rooney was honored in an emotional pregame ceremony, the Steelers did their job and honored him on the field with their play, defeating the Minnesota Vikings, 26-9, in front of 65,971 at Heinz Field.
Before the game the team honored Rooney with a video tribute to the life Rooney led, and the impact he had on so many. A flag was raised in the South Plaza outside of Gate A, with the DMR patch the players are wearing all season emblazed on it. Ben Roethlisberger came out for introductions waving a similar flag, and the crowd erupted with love, before falling quiet for a moment of silence.
The emotions carried over to the field, as an inspired team would not be denied winning this one, while improving their record to 2-0. A swarming, relentless defense brought pressure all day, and the offense got in gear early and never turned back.
Both teams were forced to punt on their opening drives, and it appeared the Steelers were going to face a similar fate on their next drive when they had fourth-and-one from their own 31-yard line.
But Ben Roethlisberger did what he set out to do, going for it on fourth down and forcing Brian Robison to jump offside, the encroachment call giving the Steelers a first down, their first of the game. Two plays later Xavier Rhodes was hit with a pass interference call, giving the Steelers the ball at the Vikings 38-yard line. Martavis Bryant took it on the reverse for seven yards, and Le'Veon Bell's three-yard run moved the chains. James Conner gave Bell a quick breather, and rattled off a nine-yard run. Roethlisberger then capped the drive with a 27-yard slant pass to Bryant for the touchdown and early lead, 7-0.
After the defense held the Vikings again, the offense got going with Bell breaking an 11-yard run. But a holding penalty and a seven-yard sack would push the Steelers back, facing second-and-22. Roethlisberger went deep over the middle for Bryant, and another pass interference call gave the Steelers great field position at the Vikings 12-yard line. Two carries by Bell for a combined eight yards put the Steelers at the four-yard line. JuJu Smith-Schuster then made his first NFL reception count with the four-yard touchdown grab, extending the lead to 14-0 in the early going of the second quarter.
Case Keenum, starting for the injured Sam Bradford, took the Vikings to the Steelers 24-yard line on the ensuing drive, but a swarming defense kept bringing the pressure, and they would go no further. They got on the board when they had to settle for a Kai Forbath 42-yard field goal, cutting the lead to 14-3.
The Vikings were shut down on their first drive of the second half, and resorted to some trickery in an effort to get something going. It didn't work. On fourth-and-four punter Ryan Quigley attempted a pass to Blake Bell, but Tyler Matakavich broke up it up, and the Steelers took over on downs at the Vikings 36-yard line.
The offense wasn't able to move the ball, gaining only eight yards. Chris Boswell missed on a 51-yard field goal, but he got a second chance thanks to an illegal formation call on the Vikings. Boswell connected from 46 yards out to extend the lead to 17-3.
The Vikings responded on the ensuing driving. Aided by a pass interference call and two big plays, the Vikings got the ball down to the one-yard line. C.J. Ham took it in for the touchdown, but Forbath missed the extra point, and they were only able to cut the lead to 17-9.
You could tell Roethlisberger wanted to get the points back, and going deep to Bryant was a good way to start. Bryant pulled in a 51-yard reception in stride, taking it to the 11-yard line. But an incompletion and a sack kept the Steelers out of the end zone, and Boswell connected on his second field goal of the day, a 29-yarder to extend the lead to 20-9.
Jordan Berry's punt in the fourth quarter buried the Vikings at their one-yard line, giving them a challenge that looked impossible to overcome against a swarming defense. While they got out of the hole a little bit, they couldn't recover enough. Vince Williams sacked Keenum for 10-yard loss, and the Vikings would have to punt two plays later.
Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown connected on the next drive, with Brown pulling in two receptions for 34 yards, and Bell carried the ball four times for 19 yards. And it would be Boswell who would be called upon again, extending the lead to 23-9 with a 37-yard field goal. Boswell added a fourth field goal, for the 26-9 lead.
How they scored:A detailed look at today's scoring.
First Quarter: Steelers 7, Vikings 0
Scoring Play: Ben Roethlisberger 27-yard touchdown pass to Martavis Bryant.
Scoring Summary: 9-78-5:43
Second Quarter: Steelers 14, Vikings 0
Scoring Play: Ben Roethlisberger four-yard touchdown pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster.
Scoring Summary: 5-60-3:12
Second Quarter: Steelers 14, Vikings 3
Scoring Play: Kai Forbath 42-yard field goal.
Scoring Summary: 11-51-4:41
Game action photos from the Pittsburgh Steelers' Week 2 game against the Minnesota Vikings.
Third Quarter: Steelers 17, Vikings 3
Scoring Play: Chris Boswell 46-yard field goal.
Scoring Summary: 4-8-2:06
Third Quarter: Steelers 17, Vikings 9
Scoring Play: C.J. Ham touchdown. Missed extra point.
Scoring Summary: 6-82-2:22
Third Quarter: Steelers 20, Vikings 9
Scoring Play: Chris Boswell 29-yard field goal.
Scoring Summary: 10-74-4:52
Fourth Quarter: Steelers 23, Vikings 9
Scoring Play: Chris Boswell 37-yard field goal.
Scoring Summary: 11-64-4:44
Fourth Quarter: Steelers 26, Vikings 9
Scoring Play: Chris Boswell 43-yard field goal.
Scoring Summary: 4-5-0:20