PITTSBURGH -- Cam Heyward is back, and so, apparently, is a dominating Steelers defense.
For the second consecutive game, the Steelers defense did its job. They held the Minnesota Vikings to only 237 yards of total offense, more than 100 yards per game better than the average they allowed a year ago.
The Steelers stifled the Minnesota Vikings 26-9 and allowed only one touchdown, a 1-yard run by C.J. Ham in the third quarter after the "lulled" Steelers defense allowed a 25-yard run by Dalvin Cook, who otherwise gained only 39 yards on 11 other carries.
The key was the return of Heyward, the captain who missed the last nine games last season with a torn pectoral muscle.
Heyward made his return to Heinz Field with a dominating performance. He drew a holding penalty on the first series, tackled Cook for a 4-yard loss on the second series and pressured Case Keenum into a wild incompletion to a wide-open Stefon Diggs on the third series.
Heyward was credited with only six tackles, but he forced running backs to take difficult paths throughout the game and drilled Keenum twice to force incompletions.
"I'm always fired up," said Heyward. "But this was the home opener and (I) got to play for DMR (the late Dan Rooney) in the first game he wasn't here. We missed him out there, and I thought we played with energy."
Heyward said he didn't feel the need to pick up the slack for injured linemate Stephon Tuitt, insisting that it's always his job to get the unit off and running.
"I'm trying to set the tone period," Heyward said. "Obviously Tuitt wasn't there but whenever we're out there as a defensive line we want to set the tempo. We want to see if they want to test us."
The Steelers have yet to allow an opponent more than 100 yards rushing. The Vikings, who gained 129 on 30 carries the previous week, were held to 91 yards on 20 carries by the Steelers.
"I think we can get even better," Heyward said. "I'm excited to see what we do in the next game. We just have to keep challenging ourselves and not get complacent."
How do they plan to do that?
"Just not getting lulled to sleep," he said, "and understanding it's a 60-minute game. I know we cut down on the big plays but we still gave up a couple. Once we cut that out we'll be even better."