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Martavis Bryant is a difference-maker, as the Vikings found out the hard way

If Martavis Bryant is indeed back, as his 3-catch, 91-yard performance against Minnesota on Sunday indicates, the Steelers’ offense can be every bit as potent as everyone thinks it ought to be in 2017.

Minnesota Vikings v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Do you think Steelers superstar receiver Antonio Brown is feeling a little less restricted, after a satisfying 26-9 victory over the Vikings at Heinz Field on Sunday afternoon?

After spending the day being shadowed by accomplished cornerback Xavier Rhodes and coming away with only five receptions for 62 yards, maybe not.

However, if fellow receiver Martavis Bryant keeps doing what he did to Minnesota's defense in Week 2, it might not be long before Brown will have enough room on a football field to perform some of those moves he learned as a contestant on Dancing With the Stars.

Targeted only four times on the day, Bryant caught three passes for 91 yards and the game's first score, when he gathered in a Ben Roethlisberger pass around the 15-yard line late in the first quarter and outraced the Vikings' defenders the rest of the way for a 27-yard touchdown.

On the Steelers’ next possession, Bryant set-up their second touchdown of the day by blowing past Minnesota cornerback Trae Waynes and drawing a 49-yard pass-interference penalty. Not sure if that counts as a target, but darned if it wasn't just as effective as a genuine reception.

Midway through the third quarter, following Minnesota's first touchdown of the afternoon to make it a one-score game, Roethlisberger hit Bryant, who again was being covered by Waynes, on a 51-yard reception down to the 11-yard line to set-up Chris Boswell's second field goal, making the score 20-9.

If you're keeping score at home, the Steelers scored 26 points, and Bryant played an integral role in 17 of them.

Again, if you're counting at home, that's 140 yards of real estate gained by a receiver who had only a handful of passes thrown his way.

That's not just efficient, that's deadly.

And that's what the Steelers’ offense was missing in 2016 when Bryant was suspended for the entire season.

Sure, Sammie Coates looked like a Xerox copy of Bryant early in the year when he was the best deep-threat in the league through five weeks (okay, maybe a Xerox of a Xerox). But that quality quickly disappeared, as injuries and a lack of confidence derailed what what was left of Coates' second campaign and rendered him all but ineffective down the stretch and throughout the playoffs.

Based on his truncated career which now includes 81 receptions for 1,419 yards and 15 touchdowns in only 23 games, it's doubtful anything will stop Bryant's immense talent from continuing to blossom on NFL football fields all over the country—provided, of course, that he stays free of the off-field issues.

The only question involving Bryant is his character. The Randy Moss-like talent is more than evident and, on Sunday, he did more with his handful of targets than Brown did with his eleven.

Through the first two weeks of the 2017 season, people have been a little frustrated with the performance of the Steelers’ offense, but I wouldn't worry about that, if I were you, because Martavis Bryant is back and appears to have shaken off the rust after his 2016 suspension.

If that’s the case, then Antonio Brown will be happy, you’ll be happy and the Steelers offense will be what everyone keeps saying it should be—the very best in the National Football League.