Pittsburgh Steelers week Two Takeaways: Minnesota Vikings

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Martavis Bryant’s first touchdown since his return, and JuJu Smith-Schuster’s first NFL touchdown. Photos from http://www.steelers.com

The Pittsburgh Steelers looked a lot more like themselves in a 26-9 win over the Minnesota Vikings. They showed more patience with the running game, and went deep to Martavis Bryant and Antonio Brown on a few occasions. Most importantly, the Steelers offense held the ball for half a quarter longer than the Vikings. The defense held the Vikings to 237 yards, sacking Case Keenum two times and holding Dalvin Cook to 64 yards. Pittsburgh Steelers week two takeaways looks at key elements of the Steelers second win of the season.

Pittsburgh Steelers week Two Takeaways: Minnesota Vikings

The Steelers showed signs they’re rounding into form against a tough Minnesota Vikings team. Granted, they didn’t set the world on fire, but they gave every indication they are moving in the right direction. The NFL season is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s not how you start, but rather how you finish. The Steelers have started with two wins, despite not playing to their potential. They are still finding their identity, but are a lot closer after this win. Most importantly, the Steelers honored Dan Rooney with a win on a day his life was celebrated.

Week Two Takeaway Number One: The Defense is Going to be Special

The Steelers defense has flipped the script from the last few seasons, when the offense had to carry them early on. This time around, Keith Butler‘s unit has been the stabilizing force while the offense finds their legs. The defensive line, led by Cameron Heyward, helped generate two sacks and five other hits. Their pressure has greatly aided the secondary in coverage. T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree have been explosive at outside linebacker, while Joe Haden has been a nice upgrade opposite of Artie Burns.  They were extremely fast to the ball against the Vikings, holding them to five out of fifteen on third down conversions.

Week Two Takeaway Number Two: Martavis Bryant is Ready To Resume His Role as the NFL’s Most dangerous Deep Threat

The Bryant factor was in full effect during his second game back from a year long suspension. He caught three passes for 91 yards, including his 27 yard touchdown on a slant route. His longest reception went for 51 yards, after lulling Trae Waynes to sleep, then blowing past him down the near sideline. Bryant gave the Steelers an additional 49 yards, drawing a pass interference penalty on a deep ball down the middle. With Xavier Rhodes locked on Brown, Ben Roethlisberger turned to Bryant for the big plays the offense needed.

Week Two Takeaway Number Three: Offensive Line Handled one of the NFL’s Toughest Defensive Fronts

The Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t put up 30 points. The offense certainly left some plays and points on the field, but they won. They put up 26 points on a very tough Vikings defense  that has six Pro Bowl players, helping to the tune of 34:22 in time of possession. They helped Le’Veon Bell to surpass what the Saints trio of running backs, including Adrian Peterson, where able to do against the same defense. Maurkice Pouncey and company did a good job of protecting Roethlisberger from a furious pass rush, allowing one sack and four hits.

The Steelers are a work in progress, but are making progress on both sides of the ball. They are going to be explosive on offense, although they need to improve on their third down conversion percentage. The defense is younger, faster, and more talented than they have been since 2010, the Super Bowl XLV season. This is a team that is going to be REALLY good as the season goes on. How good will the Steelers be? They will be capable of beating the Patriots in New England during the postseason” good. The Vikings were their first real test of the season, and they passed the test.

 

 

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