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Steelers Dominate Minnesota in wire-to-wire 26-9 victory

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Le'Veon Bell rushed for 87 yards, Ben Roethlisberger posted 243 yards on 23 of 35 and kicker Chris Boswell added four field goals in a dominating performance at Heinz Field Sunday.

PITTSBURGH—The Steelers (2-0) kicked their way to a 26-9 win over visiting Minnesota (1-1) on Sunday afternoon at Heinz Field. As Steeler quarterback Ben Roethisberger said after the game, style points don’t matter in the NFL.

“I’ve said it before, this isn’t the BCS. We did what we had to do. We won the football game and we’re two-and-oh,” Roethlisberger said. “[Minnesota] has a great defense. One of the best I’ve faced in a long time. We made some things happen but their rush was really good.”

He finished the game with 23 completions on 35 attempts for 243 yards and two touchdowns.

Although the Vikings entered the game flying high after winning handily last week, their starting quarterback Sam Bradford was a late scratch and backup Case Keenum started. He completed 20 passes on 37 attempts for 167 yards.

The Steelers took a 7-0 lead on their second possession by mounting a 78-yard drive capped by a 27-yard Martavis Bryant touchdown. Ben Roethlisberger hit Bryant in stride perfectly on a slant route for the score with 3:02 left in the first quarter.

“We saw opportunities with the way their db’s were playing and we wanted to take advantage. We had no clue how many shots we were going to take downfield,” said Bryant, who finished with 3 catches for 91 yards. “We wanted to play fast and react. I’m just trying to get better each week."

Boneheaded play of the game

The Vikings helped the home team’s cause on the drive where the Steelers scored their first touchdown.  Pittsburgh lined up to snap the ball on fourth and one from their own 31-yard line, apparently, to try to draw the Vikings offsides. We’ll never know if the Steelers intended to actually snap the ball, as Minnesota defensive end Brian Robinson obliged and jumped offsides to give Pittsburgh the gift first down which helped sustain the drive.

The Steelers extended their lead to 14-0 midway through the second quarter. Bryant continued to excel and drew a 49-yard pass interference to the Vikings 12-yard line to fuel the drive. Roethlisberger hit JuJu Smith-Schuster on a 4-yard shovel pass for the touchdown.

The Vikings cracked the scoreboard with a Kai Forbath 42-yard field goal midway through the second quarter and the Steelers 14-3 lead at the half.

Special team’s play of the game

The Vikings were stopped on their first possession of the second half and were forced to punt. Minnesota head coach Mike Zimmer decided to roll the dice and called for a fake. Punter Ryan Quigley threw a pass down the right sideline but Tyler Matakevich swatted the ball away to give the Steelers the ball back inside Vikings territory.

“We say all the time for everybody to do their job. We stay alert for the fake and be ready. [Minnesota] tried the fake and we were ready. When I saw the ball, I was thinking to pick it. I came close but we still gave the ball back to the offense,” Matakevich said. “Sometimes people forget that special teams is a third of the game. To have solid special teams play is huge.”

The Steelers took over at the 36 yard line but the Vikings held them to a 51 yard field goal attempt. The kick was no good but the Vikings continued to self-destruct.

They were called for an illegal formation on the play which gave Chris Boswell a second chance, but this time from five yards closer. He took advantage of the second opportunity and booted the 46 yard field goal to give the Pittsburgh a 17-3 lead three minutes into the second half.

The Vikings stormed back on a 6-play, 82-yard drive less than five minutes into the third quarter and closed the gap with a C.J. Ham 1-yard touchdown and the Steelers led 17-9 (after Forbath missed the extra point).

Play of the game

The incredible pass play Ben to Bryan for a 51 yard diving catch to the Viking 11 yard line.

On the previous play, Bryant had a 9-yard catch for a first down. Boswell kicked a 29 yard field on the drive to extend the Steelers lead to 20-9 with five minutes left in the third quarter.

Boswell booted a 37-yard field goal with 3:18 left in the game to extend the Steelers’ lead to 23-9 and he ended the scoring in the game with a 43-yarder in the final two minutes to ice the game.

Honoring Dan

Dan Rooney was honored at the game. The Pittsburgh Symphony played the national anthem and Roethlisberger entered the field with a flag bearing the Dan Rooney memorial clover symbol.

Next up

The Steelers will travel to Chicago next Sunday to face the NFC Central’s Bears.  Kickoff from Solider Field is set for 1 PM.

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