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Steelers cruise over Panthers 27-3

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Ben Roethlisberger threw for 320 yards and a touchdown and the Steelers ran roughshod over the Carolina Panthers, 27-3. The Steelers defense allowed only 119 yards on the night.

Steelers 27 –Panthers 3

It was about what was expected in a matchup between a top AFC-team and a two-win cellar dweller. Pittsburgh controlled the play for the majority of the game with the defense shining in a near-shutout.


Carolina came out on offense and moved the ball fairly well, chipping away at the defense before falling behind the chains thanks to back-to-back false start penalties. The Panthers punted, and Pittsburgh appeared to pick up a touchdown on a throw from QB Ben Roethlisberger to rookie WR Emmanuel Sanders. However, the call was overturned and the team settled for a 26-yard field goal by Shaun Suisham for a 3-0 lead. Carolina’s next two drives ended with a turnover-on-downs and an interception by CB Bryant McFadden. Three plays after the pick, Roethlisberger hit WR Mike Wallace for a short pass that the speedy receiver turned into a 43-yard touchdown.

With the defense holding Carolina in-check, Pittsburgh’s offense added to its lead shortly after the two-minute warning, with RB Rashard Mendenhall punching the ball into the endzone for a one-yard touchdown. A three-and-out and another big play by Mike Wallace allowed Suisham to connect on a 29-yard field goal, putting Pittsburgh up 20-0. After Carolina fumbled away the ensuing kickoff, Suisham was in position to tack on another three, but missed a 41-yard attempt, his first miss in a Steeler uniform.

A post-play foul by a Carolina defender allowed Pittsburgh to sneak into the Panthers’ redzone on their first drive of the second half, but the offense came up empty, failing to convert a fourth-and-one and the five-yard line. The Panthers failed to escape the shadow of their own endzone, however, giving Pittsburgh a short field to work with on their next drive. After two stuffs of Rashard Mendenhall, Roethlisberger decided to keep it himself, sneaking the ball into the endzone for a one-yard touchdown and a 27-0 lead.

In the fourth quarter, A three-and-out by the Pittsburgh offense already backed up in their own territory gave Carolina excellent field position, allowing them to break the shutout with a 27-yard field goal by John Kasay that ended the scoring for the night.


Rookie LB Jason Worilds left the game with a knee injury and did not return. RB Mewelde Moore also left the game with a knee injury late in the fourth quarter. CB Bryant McFadden went to the sidelines with a hip injury soon after his first-half interception, but returned to play in the second half.


On the ground:
Rashard Mendenhall netted only 65 yards on 18 carries, but did reel off a 35-yarder in the first half to pair with a one-yard touchdown. Isaac Redman picked up 43 yards on five carries, mostly in garbage time, and atoned for a late-game fumble by breaking off a 23-yard run to convert his only third-down chance on the very next drive. Ben Roethlisberger also chipped in on the ground, picking up a one-yard touchdown.

Through the air: Roethlisberger was efficient through the air, especially in the first half where he picked up 259 yards and a touchdown on 16-of-23 passing. He finished the game 22-for-32 for 320 yards. Mike Wallace posted his fifth 100-yard receiving game of the last seven contests by nabbing 104 yards on four catches, including a 43-yard touchdown. TE Heath Miller returned to the lineup and grabbed five passes for 73 yards. Rookie Emmanuel Sanders added 54 yards on four catches. Hines Ward chipped in three receptions for 38 yards.


The defense pitched a shutout until the fourth quarter, when Carolina turned great field position into a field goal. Pittsburgh held the Panthers offense to 119 total yards, including 45 yards in the passing game. Bryant McFadden looked sharp in the secondary, batting away two passes and picking off another. LB James Farrior, DE Brett Keisel, LB James Harrison, and DE Ziggy Hood all picked up sacks in the contest. Safety Ryan Mundy, who started for the injured Troy Polamalu, led the team with eight total tackles.


Shaun Suisham was two-for-three on field goals for the night, suffering the first miss of his Steelers career from 41-yards out. Jeremy Kapinos had a solid night, averaging 45.3 yards on three punts. Both Antwaan Randle El and rookie Antonio Brown were quiet in the return game for Pittsburgh, but the team’s coverage unit came away looking strong with a forced fumble by Keyaron Fox (recovered by Will Allen).


This week’s game ball goes to the entire Steelers defense, which pitched a near-shutout while limiting the Panthers to under 150 yards of total offense.


Pittsburgh travels to Cleveland for its season finale, a game which could be irrelevant if the Browns knock off Baltimore this weekend, thus securing the division for the Steelers. Regardless of the game’s significance, it will be broadcast on the second day of 2011 at 1:00 PM on CBS.

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