Terrell Watson ran and ran and ran. He was not only the bellcow but the bellmoose, bellhorse, and whatever other stupid phrase I can think of. His performance kept the Pittsburgh Steelers in the game as Josh Dobbs brought the team back to beat the Carolina Panthers 17-14.
Pittsburgh scored two touchdowns on the night. The first, a great throw and catch from Josh Dobbs to Justin Hunter from 58 yards out. And the second, Dobbs running off the right side for a one yard touchdown with four ticks left.
The story of the game, unfortunately, were secondary injuries. A unit that lost Jordan Dangerfield and Cam Sutton to groin and hamstring injuries, respectively. Both were quickly ruled out of the game, a bad sign for their Week One availability September 10th against the Cleveland Browns. Reserve safety Malik Golden also suffered a groin injury after an interception that would’ve turned into a pick six had he not pulled up lame and Terrish Webb left the game in the fourth quarter. Robert Golden was forced to return to the game to finish things out.
Landry Jones got the start at QB. He played in two series, finished by an interception via linebacker David Mayo, who returned the ball 27 yards. Jones was pressured by a corner blitz that right tackle Jerald Hawkins failed to pick up, causing the ball to float in the air.
Carolina took over with the ball at the Steelers 40, finding the end zone in seven plays when back Fozzy Whittaker rushed in from four yards out.
Watson was a catalyst on the last drive of the first quarter. He had rushes of 11, six, and five to move the Steelers’ offense down the field. Chris Boswell connected from 37 yards to cut it to a 7-3 Carolina lead.
Watson carried the ball 19 times for 89 yards on the night, an exclamation point to a strong camp.
On the first play of the Steelers’ next drive, Dobbs looked off the deep safety and found Hunter streaking down the right sideline, making a fingertip catch to beat the corner and score from 58 yards out. The Steelers took their first lead, 10-7.
The Steelers defense held firm until late in the first half. Quarterback Joe Webb hit receiver Kaelin Clay deep down the middle for a gain of 47 to the Steelers 11. Three plays later, he hit an open Damiere Byrd down the left seam for the score with 1:24 left. The Panthers went up 14-10 at the break.
Newly traded for tight end Vance McDonald played a pair of series in the second quarter. At halftime, Mike Tomlin told Missi Matthews he wanted to get McDonald’s feet wet.
“We just wanted to get the introductory element out of the way,” Tomlin told Matthews. “To have something to talk about as we continue to teach him. So from that standpoint, it served its purpose. He got his feet wet. He’d been in the huddle for us a little bit. It’ll be a nice catalyst as we proceed to educate him.”
Cornerback Joe Haden did not play. Tomlin told Matthews it was an “awesome surprise” to get him, which makes me wonder if Tomlin knows he signed a starting corner or just became a grandpa.
Third down conversions for the Steelers’ offense continued to be fleeting, converting on just one of six in the first two quarters of play.
Out of the break, the third quarter didn’t offer much excitement for either side. Carolina strung together a long drive mid-way through the third quarter but Graham Gano clanked a 51 yard try off the right upright.
The Steelers secondary did manage to create three turnovers on the night. Malik Golden had the interception, Jacob Hagen picked one on the last play before halftime, and Webb forced a fumble L.J. Fort recovered.
In the 4th quarter, defensive linemen Roy Philon tipped a pass at the line of scrimmage, picked off by a sliding Matt Galambos. The Steelers weren’t able to capitalize with good field position, punting the ball away.
Dobbs and the Steelers’ offense had a late drive but Cobi Hamilton fumbled away a long completion with 1:30 left the Panthers recovered in their own end zone. From there, it felt like the game was over. But the Steelers forced a three and out and Demarcus Ayers energized the offense with a 20 yard punt return to their own 47. Dobbs connected twice with Marcus Tucker for gains of 15 and 34 yards, the latter all the way down to the one yardline. Dobbs scrambled right and beat the safety into the end zone the next play to win the game.
Pittsburgh will have to cut their roster down to 53 by 4 PM Saturday.
NOTES: Knile Davis was the only other running back to see carries on the night, toting the rock 5 times for 13 yards…Hunter finished the day with three grabs for 75 yards…Fort led the Steelers with 8 solo tackles...Ayers impressed with two strong punt returns….Jordan Berry averaged 39.4 yards per punt, pinning two inside the 20….Cameron Artie-Payne led the Panthers with 51 yards rushing…the Steelers finish the preseason 3-1….they’ll play the Browns on the 10th at 1 PM/EST