EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. —Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger surpassed Vikings Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton last week for ninth all-time in NFL passing yards.
Roethlisberger completed 24 of 36 passes for 263 yards against Cleveland to give him 47,077. Tarkenton totaled 47,003, which led all players when he retired after the 1978 season.
The Vikings opened the season by keeping Drew Brees, who ranks third all-time in yards and passing touchdowns, under 300 yards and out of the end zone for the first 58 minutes of the game last week.
Despite their prolific numbers, Brees, listed at 6-foot, is in stark contrast to the frame of the 6-foot-5, 240 pound "Big Ben."
Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards said Roethlisberger has a "great pocket presence."
"He's not a big scrambler, but he does scramble," Edwards said. "But he's got a great feel in the pocket to hang in there, to move to the right, step up, and get the ball down the field.
"He's tough to bring down," Edwards added. "You do see him step up and run on certain occasions. He does a great job understanding what they're trying to do schematically. The receivers do a great job of getting open down the field as he does start to move around in the pocket, so we've got our work cut out for us."
Edwards on defending Brown
Antonio Brown is one of the most productive receivers in the NFL and enters Week 2 atop the receiving yards leaderboard. Brown posted 182 yards on 11 catches against the Browns and was the only player with a higher total than Vikings receiver Adam Thielen (157 on nine catches).
Edwards said "a combination of everything" and Brown's ability to play multiple receiver positions and extend plays make him tough to defend.
"You can tell he's a very hard worker, he's a very tough competitor," Edwards said. "A play may break down, but he's still working to get open. We really have to be disciplined in our coverages of keeping leverage on him as he works through that route progression.
"They do a good job of moving him around to the different receiver positons to try and out leverage you with different motions and things like that," Edwards continued. "We'll have our work cut out for us to make sure we maintain leverage on him whether the quarterback is getting rid of the ball quickly as they move him or whether he's scrambling and he gets open down the field."
Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur discussed the Vikings quick touchdown drive in the second quarter and looked ahead to the Steelers defense.
Shurmur on tempo boost
The Vikings took their first lead of 2017 with a three-play touchdown drive that covered 74 yards in 1:18.
Sam Bradford connected with Thielen for a gain of 35, with Jarius Wright for 21 and Diggs for an 18-yard touchdown. Bradford liked a matchup with Thielen, who was in the slot against a linebacker, on the first play of the drive.
"Sam made a couple really accurate throws," Shurmur said. "There were elements of offensive football throughout that. Then we certainly surprised them on the last one with a tempo that they didn't cover. If it's none-on-1, we've got to complete all of those."
Shurmur has coached an offensive position, been a coordinator or head coach in the NFL since 1999 but said he really didn't implement tempo until he worked for Chip Kelly from 2013-15.
"I think using tempo became part of my DNA when I was with Chip in Philadelphia," Shurmur said. "We did it a lot there. We never huddled, but sometimes we didn't go extremely fast, sometimes we did. We kind of just played with the throttle, we just weren't in the huddle. I think used strategically it's good. We had a couple other ones that weren't quite as successful, but we hit on one."
Shurmur on the Steelers defense
Pittsburgh recorded seven sacks on Sunday at Cleveland. Linebackers T.J. Watt and Anthony Chickillo each accounted for 2.0 takedowns of rookie DeShone Kizer.
"They've always put pressure on the quarterback," Shurmur said. "Played them, seems like every year, my years in Philadelphia. We'd play them in the preseason if we didn't play them in the regular season. So, I've got a lot of experience with them.
"Then, certainly being in Cleveland [2011-12], I played them twice two years in a row," Shurmur added. "If you stand there and hold the ball, they're going to get after you."
Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer discussed the jobs that players in new roles did for the Vikings on Monday.
Punting with a purpose
Veteran punter Ryan Quigley wasn't too busy in his Vikings debut, but Priefer said Quigley was effective on two "outstanding" punts.
Quigley averaged 43.5 yards on his punts, and neither yielded return yardage. He had a long of 52 to flip field position and placed one inside the 20 with a 35-yarder that forced a fair catch.
"We just had the two opportunities to punt the ball because our offense did so well," Priefer said. "I thought he did a great job.
"His first punt was phenomenal. It was great hang time, outside the numbers. Jayron [Kearse] did a nice job of coming around the corner," Priefer said. "It gave [Kearse] time to get down there and beat the double team. They had a safety drop from the box. [Kearse] made a real nice play, and it was a 52-yard net, so it was a big play for us."
The other punt, which required touch at the expense of average distance was also what the Vikings wanted in that situation.
"I thought Ryan did a good job," Priefer said. "The other one was a shorter punt, but it was inside the 20. I think they fair-caught it at the 11-yard line, so both of his punts were outstanding."
McKinnon's new gig
Jerick McKinnon returned one kickoff for 24 yards back in his rookie season and stepped into the role as Minnesota's primary kickoff returner on Monday.
He finished the night with 108 kickoff return yards, which is the most in the NFL after Week 1. McKinnon's average of 27 yards per run back ranks second in the league.
Priefer said there were some good elements and some areas to improve.
McKinnon's returns were 22 yards to the Minnesota 15, 31 yards to the Minnesota 26, 39 yards to the 33 and 16 yards to the Minnesota 11.
"The first kickoff return he brought out, which I was happy with," Priefer said. "It was a middle return, and he's got to stay with the middle. He didn't trust it, and it's a learning process for him.
"In that regard, we'll take the good with the bad," Priefer said. "The one decision he made to bring the ball out when it was really deep, going to his right and coming back to the left, I've got to do a better job of prepping him for that because he's an aggressive guy, and I'm an aggressive guy, and sometimes I've got to … tone it down a little bit. He'll get better every week because he runs hard."
Priefer said McKinnon's 39-yarder to open the second half was "outstanding" because it provided good field position and momentum. The Vikings followed with a 7-yard run by Dalvin Cook and a 30-yard pass to Diggs.
"The sideline got juiced up, and our offense did a great job of going down the field," Priefer said. "I don't think we did a great job overall, but there were a couple of big plays out there, and we've got to keep learning from the bad plays, correct those and move on."