The Pittsburgh Steelers are back on the road in a prime time game for the second straight week, but this time it’s not on a short schedule. They were handily beaten by the Baltimore Ravens last Thursday and are looking to improve to 2-1 against the Carolina Panthers tonight.
The Steelers received the ball first and started from the 20 following a touchback. Ben Roethlisberger threw to Antonio Brown on a screen for five yards on the first play. Pittsburgh was flagged for an illegal substitution, however, negating the gain. On second and 10, Le’Veon Bell got the carry and gained 11 yards off left tackle.
Heath Miller was tackled for a loss of one after a first-down toss. On second and 11, Bell once again found space up the middle for nine yards. The Steelers were forced to call a timeout after confusion leading up to the third down play. Bell took the carry wide and found the edge for three yards to move the chains.
Will Johnson just assured himself a benching for the rest of the season after dropping a pass on first down, considering the team doesn’t want to play him anyway. On second down, LeGarrette Blount picked up three yards to set up a third and long. Roethlisberger’s pass was tipped at the line to force the Steelers to punt after getting penetration against Cody Wallace.
Starting from the 20, Cam Newton found Kelvin Benjamin in open space for 18 yards on first down. After another first-down pass to Philly Brown, Newton found him again for nine yards across midfield. Jonathan Stewart had little trouble moving the chains in short yardage. After a 14-yard pass to Stewart, Newton took a hit and called a timeout.
After a short carry and an incompletion into the end zone, the Panthers faced a third and eight. Newton targeted Benjamin, but the receiver bobbled it, and Cortez Allen had a chance to intercept it. The Panthers took an early lead on a field goal.
Bell had nowhere to go but back on first down from the 20. Brown was flagged for holding on second down on a pitch to Bell, negating a nice gain and making it second and 13. Maurkice Pouncey was flagged for holding again, but the Panthers declined. Brown came up well short of the first down on a screen, forcing another punt.
Steve McLendon made the stop on first down on a run for a one-yard loss. On second and long from the 35, Lawrence Timmons came across and showed good range and tackling to stop a reception to the flat for no gain. On third and 11, William Gay made the tackle on Jason Avant a few yards short of the first down, forcing the Panthers to punt.
On first down, Roethlisberger threw deep to Darrius Heyward-Bey on the latter’s first target of the season. The Panthers were both offside and then committed pass interference, advancing the ball 42 yards. Bell gained six yards up the left sideline on first down. On second and four, Bell got the call again, showing patience before making a sharp cut for the first down. On the next play, however, Mario Addison got by Kelvin Beachum for a sack. A swing pass to Brown picked up four yards to set up third and 12. Roethlisberger was hit as he threw to force an incompletion. Shaun Suisham tied the game at three.
Stewart ran left for three yards on first down to close the opening quarter. Cameron Heyward got a sack on Newton to behind the second quarter, but holds by both teams offset. Ryan Shazier was in coverage on a six-yard reception on second down. On third and one, Newton’s throw down the field was low and incomplete, and the Panthers punted again. An illegal block in the back on the return had the Steelers starting from inside their own 10-yard line.
Beachum was flagged for a false start on second and nine, making it second and 13. Blount, however, offered up a one-cut 15-yard run for a first down and some breathing room. After a carry for no gain by Bell, Brown could only pick up four yards with a lot of horizontal movement. On third and six, Brown hauled in a nice over the shoulder pass for 30 yards. Miller brought in a 16-yard pass, and then Markus Wheaton caught a screen pass for seven yards. Bell moved the chains on second and three.
Roethlisberger targeted Justin Brown, throwing the ball to the back of the end zone, but the receiver could not get to the ball. Miller’s short reception gave the Steelers a third and five from the 14-yard line. Brown came up just short on a screen to Brown. Roethlisberger ran a sneak for the conversion. Justin Brown got the ball to the four-yard line on first and goal. Bell was stopped for a loss of two on second down; the Panthers declined an illegal motion penalty. On third and goal from the six, Roethlisberger found Wheaton for a touchdown, but the officials ruled that his left foot touched out of bounds prior to the pass. The Steelers had to settle for another field goal.
On first down, McLendon beat Ryan Kalil for the Steelers’ first sack since the opener. Benjamin hauled in a 14-yard pass to set up third and three. Greg Olsen was able to get in front of Mike Mitchell for the Panthers’ first first down in three possessions.
Benjamin brought in a pass in front of Ike Taylor near midfield despite the corner’s best efforts. The left tackle was flagged for a face mask on Jarvis Jones, making it second and 25. Newton found Brown for 16 yards at the two-minute warning.
On second and nine, Newton scrambled for two yards. Newton took a hit by Heyward on an incompletion to force another punt with 1:43 remaining, which went for a touchback.
From the 20, Bell ran a draw for three yards. Roethlisberger found Antonio Brown for 15 yards, and looked his way again on the following play to draw a pass interference play for 19 yards. Roethlisberger found Wheaton for another first down and clocked it with 33 seconds remaining in the half. Justin Brown caught a short pass on second down, but David DeCastro was flagged for unnecessary roughness for a 15-yard penalty. From the 39, Bell caught a screen for 12 yards to put the Steelers in field goal range. Suisham banged home his third field goal of the game from 45 yards out to give Pittsburgh a 9-3 halftime lead.