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Gorman's 5 thoughts after Steelers-Vikings

Kevin Gorman
| Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017, 4:27 p.m.

1. The Steelers expected this to be a season of special moments .

The first came before Sunday's home opener, when the Steelers paid tribute to their late chairman, Dan Rooney, whose absence has been felt since his death in April.

Having franchise cornerstones Joe Greene and Franco Harris waving Terrible Towels on the field was a nice touch. Ben Roethlisberger running out of the tunnel carrying a gold flag with a shamrock and DMR — the initials of Daniel Milton Rooney — before handing off to James Harrison, who waved the flag at midfield, was even better.

That was followed by a moment of silence and a beautiful rendition of the national anthem performed by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, then a flyover over Heinz Field on a picture-perfect day.

The best tribute to Rooney?

Steelers 26, Vikings 9.

2. With Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford out with a knee injury and the Steelers coming off a seven-sack performance at Cleveland, you had to expected the Steelers to put pressure on backup Case Keenum.

That had me looking forward to the return of left outside linebacker Bud Dupree, who missed the opener with a shoulder injury, playing opposite first-round pick T.J. Watt .

On Minnesota's first possession, Watt had a pass defensed. On the second possession, he combined with Cameron Heyward to stop Dalvin Cook for a 4-yard loss. Two plays later, Dupree pressured Keenum into an incomplete pass on third-and-13.

Unfortunately, their time together was short-lived as Watt injured his left groin and did not return.

3. Martavis Bryant is back.

Sure, the mercurial wide receiver was fully reinstated by the NFL from his season-long suspension in time for the Browns game, but we saw the first flashes of the old Bryant against the Vikings.

He ran a reverse for a 7-yard gain, then caught a 27-yard touchdown pass from Roethlisberger to give the Steelers a 7-0 lead at 3 minutes, 2 seconds of the first quarter. Bryant also drew a 49-yard pass interference penalty that helped set up JuJu Smith-Schuster's 3-yard touchdown on a shovel pass to make it 14-0 in the second quarter.

In the second half, Bryant had a 13-yard catch on third-and-12 at the Steelers 25 for a first down. On the next play, he made a diving catch for a 51-yard gain to help set up Chris Boswell's 29-yard field goal for a 20-9 lead.

Bryant finished with three catches for 91 yards and a touchdown and 98 total yards on four touches.

4. The showdown between Antonio Brown and Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes was entertaining, especially given their history.

Both are Pro Bowlers from Miami, and they were teammates for a year at Miami Norland High School.

Brown got the better end of the battle, with five catches for 62 yards, including a spectacular sideline grab late in the second quarter.

He originally was ruled out of bounds, but replays showed he tapped his right toe and dragged his left foot before going out of bounds. The on-field ruling was reversed, and Brown got a 12-yard gain.

5. The Steelers rave about the athleticism of backup lineman Chris Hubbard, and he displayed his versatility against the Vikings.

Hubbard lined up at tight end in a jumbo package, filled in at left tackle when Alejandro Villanueva had to come out for heat-related reasons and later at right tackle for Marcus Gilbert in the fourth quarter.

That shows Hubbard's value to the Steelers, considering he's a fourth-year undrafted free agent.

What's next? Maybe the Steelers will take advantage of his tackle-eligible status and throw No. 74 a pass someday. Fingers crossed.

Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at kgorman@tribweb.com or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.

Fans watch from the stands as the Steelers take on the Vikings on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017 at Heinz Field.
Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
Fans watch from the stands as the Steelers take on the Vikings on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017 at Heinz Field.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell with Steelers president Art Rooney II before the Steelers Vikings game Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017 at Heinz Field.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell with Steelers president Art Rooney II before the Steelers Vikings game Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017 at Heinz Field.
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