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Pressure key in Steelers' demolition of Carolina

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The Steelers smothered Carolina's offense for four quarters Thursday night, and the driving force of the consistent success was the domination in the trenches and the furious pressure up front.
Carolina quarterback Cam Newton looked unstoppable on the first drive of the game as he led the Panthers on a nine-play, 75-yard touchdown drive.  After that, however, the Steelers defense turned up the pressure on Newton and took control of the game.

Steeler linebacker T.J. Watt shadowed Newton most of the game to shut down his ability to affect the game with his legs.

“On the zone read, we had certain calls where I was to [key] on Cam [Newton] and take [the run] option away from him. We wanted to keep him in the pocket,” Watt said. “We made the right adjustments after the first series and executed the rest of the game.”

On the Panthers’ second possession, Newton dropped back in the end zone to pass but was met by Watt. As Watt spun him down, Newton dumped the ball down the middle of the field to avoid the sack. Vince Williams was there to meet the bloop, however, and rolled into the end zone for a pick-six.

Watt was glad he did not get the sack on the play but he did get a sack later in the game. He also had a forced fumble and two quarterback hurries.

“I just got wide. I was blitzing off the edge and tried to make a play on Cam [Newton], Watt said. “I couldn’t get him down before he threw the ball out. I was glad we got the pick-six.”

Linebacker John Bostic led the Steelers with ten tackles. He felt the pick-six changed the whole complexion of the game.

“The pick six changed the whole game. That gave us the momentum,” Bostic said. “Anytime you can score on defense, there’s a good chance you’re going to win the game.”

Bostic thought establishing a pass rush was key to the overall defensive effort.

“We know [Newton] can move around and extend plays,” Bostic said. “Guys were making plays all over the field. That’s what drives this defense.”

He thought this was the Steelers’ best defensive game of the year.

“We need to get to the quarterback. We need to run to the ball and get ball-carriers on the ground,” Bostic said. “Tonight we were able to do a lot of that, it showed on the score.”

The Steelers sacked Newton five times led by Cam Heyward who had two sacks. He also had three tackles, and two quarterback hurries.

“We knew [Newton’s] escape lanes were up front. You can’t [blitz every down] or [Newton] is going to beat you,” Heyward said. “I liked how we got pressure up front and through the middle
I’m glad we got the win but we won’t rest on this.”
Williams and Bud Dupree each had a sack also. Newton was held to ten yards rushing on two attempts. He was also held to under 200 yards passing.
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