On a day Pittsburgh honored the late Dan Rooney in their home opener, Ben Roethlisberger tossed two touchdown passes, helping the Steelers beat a Sam Bradford-less Minnesota Vikings, 26-9, at Heinz Field. Here is what you need to know:
1. The Pittsburgh Steelers displayed just how dangerous and diverse an offense they can deploy. On a day Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown were mostly kept in check until late in the fourth quarter, Ben Roethlisberger spread the ball around and took deep shot after deep shot.
The rust was off Martavis Bryant, and the speedy wideout showed he's a difference-maker when he's on the field. Bryant corralled several big shots from Big Ben. He took a simple slant to the house for a 27-yard TD, snagged a 51-yard bomb, and caused a huge first-half defensive pass interference. When Bryant is on the field, it completely opens the field. Against a good Vikings defense, Roethlisberger spread the ball around, with six different receivers earning at least four targets. Even while winning by 17 and putting up 335 total yards, there were plenty of plays Pittsburgh left on the field that could have made the score more lopsided. The Steelers' offense feels set to explode soon.
2. After holding Bell to just 13 touches in the opener, Pittsburgh took off the restrictor plate. The workhorse took 27 carries for 87 yards. Against a stingy Vikings front that got consistent backfield penetration, Bell was held to 3.2 yards per carry, but churned out chunk gains in the fourth quarter to help the Steelers salt away the win. With a diverse receiver corps, Roethlisberger didn't target Bell much in the passing game (four receptions for four yards on four targets). Sunday's workload proved the Steelers used Week 1 as a tune-up for Bell. We expect dual-threat to get his standard 25-30 touches the rest of the way.
3. Sam Bradford sat out with a knee injury leaving Case Keenum to make his first start for the Vikings. In the first half, Minnesota's offense looked more like the bogged down, short-pass operation we saw last season than the field-stretching operation we saw last week. Like most backups, Keenum had his moments -- a sideline strike to Stefon Diggs on the team's only touchdown drive was a beauty -- but the QB looked slow to pull the trigger at times. After a stellar Week 1, the Vikings' offensive line got swallowed by Steelers pass rushers, getting Keenum battered repeatedly. Keenum performed about like you'd expect a backup making a last-minute start at Heinz Field. He didn't turn the ball over or kill his team, but he's not a difference-maker either. The Vikings hope Bradford can return after missing just one week.
4. After blasting off in the opener, Dalvin Cook found out what it's like to take on a good NFL defensive front. Cameron Heyward, Ryan Shazier and Co. held the dynamic runner at bay most of the game. Cook had just three yards rushing at halftime. Behind an offensive line that opened few holes between the tackles, Cook made some hay in the second half. His 25-yard jaunt, in which he bounced outside and broke a defender's ankles on a cut in space, displayed his dynamic ability. The passing game is still a working progress for the rookie; he dropped a pass and had 0 yards on two catches.
5. Steelers first-round rookie T.J. Watt left the game early in the first half with a groin injury and didn't return. In limited snaps, Watt showed he can be a force on a swarming Steelers D. The rookie swatted a pass, had two tackles (one for loss) and a QB pressure before exiting.