The Pittsburgh Steelers dominated the first half offensively, with Joshua Dobbs leading three scoring drives on four possessions and Mason Rudolph coming in to lead a successful two-minute drive for a score. Dobbs threw one touchdown and ran for another. He had a touchdown pass dropped that resulted in a field goal drive instead. Rudolph’s touchdown came on third and 20 after he had a potential touchdown dropped on the play before.
The two biggest notes defensively are Ola Adeniyi and Brian Allen. Adeniyi recorded a sack, his third of the preseason and the second strip sack. Allen has had by far his best game of this preseason all around, tackling well and showing good coverage, getting a pass defensed on a deep pass as well.
Rudolph will get most of, if not all, of the second half. Mike Tomlin said it’s possible Landry Jones might see some time. If he doesn’t, that’s honestly a good sign for him.
Chris Boswell made the tackle on the opening kickoff, but it went back anyway due to penalty. Marcus Allen made the first tackle on defense for no gain. Matthew Thomas missed a tackle that helped allow a first down. From the 21, the defense stuffed the run, Farrington Huguenin and Keion Adams there I believe. Brian Allen missed a tackle on first and 20 after another penalty for 12 yards. Nat Berhe was flagged for a facemask on the play, however.
Lavon Hooks recorded a sack on the following play for an eight-yard loss, I believe his second sack of the preseason. Thomas was flagged for unnecessary roughness, however, hitting a prone quarterback high.
The following pass was just completely off, incomplete. Thomas made the tackle quickly after a short pass for four yards. Dashaun Phillips was in coverage on a deep pass, incomplete, no flags. Result is a field goal attempt. Graham Gano’s 54-yard attempt was good, making it 25-10.
The Steelers’ ensuing drive ended in a three-and-out, concluding with a sack produced by a blown assignment, a free rusher through the rightside B gap between Jake Rodgers and Zach Banner. Then Jordan Dangerfield was flagged for a facemask penalty on the punt.
Hooks and Casey Sayles came up with run stops on first and second down near midfield, Malik Golden making the tackle on third down to make the stop on a short pass for a four-yard gain, resulting in a matching three-and-out. Quadree Henderson back to return the punt, called for a fair catch–shockingly–at the 16.
Rudolph strung a pass in a narrow window to Tevin Jones, who was unable to bring in the pass. Catchable but difficult. Not a drop, but a pass you want to see caught. Fitzgerald Toussaint recorded a short gain on second down on the ground. Now third and long, he connected with Henderson for 17, finding the one-on-one coverage and taking what the defense offered.
At the 35, Rudolph had Jones open down the field after a pump fake, who had room to run for extra yardage. Bucky Hodged good blocking down the field. Now as the Panthers’ 27, Rudolph’s pass was incomplete into the end zone, but drew a pass interference looking for Jones. Good call.
The ball at the 10-yard line, Rudolph had a touchdown dropped by Pharoah McKever off of play-action, a pass in a tight window. Now second down, Toussaint got the carry for four yards. On third and goal, with five wide, Rudolph escaped pressure, scrambling to his right. He threw across his body to a wide-open Quadree Henderson for the touchdown. Not a great pass, forcing the receiver to fully extend and make an excellent play, but considering he was throwing on the run and across his body, you take it. Plus, it’s seven points either way.
The defense predictably began playing softer than after with a 22-point lead and less than 20 minutes to play, but Jamar Summers did almost pick off a pass making an aggressive jump on a route. Dashaun Phillips came in on a blitz and batted the pass down, the Steelers’ second bat in that fashion of the game. Now third and 10 from the Steelers’ 40, the quarterback Allen was forced to scramble, Keion Adams helping to force him out of bounds after seven yards. Going for it on fourth and three, it was a pitch-and-catch into the flat for Barner for the first down to end the third quarter.
Going for it on fourth down, Allen was stripped of the ball by Matthew Thomas, knocking it loose and taking it out of the air. He returned it 70-plus yards all the was down to the one. So Rudolph taking over from the one hands it off to Jarvion Franklin, who may have lost half a yard. Second and goal, he got it again and knocked someone over for the score.
Brian Allen continued to make some physical tackles on the next defensive possession. Malik Golden seemed to injure his hand trying to tackle the quarterback on a naked bootleg.
Check that, it’s a lower body injury for Golden, who was rolled up on from friendly fire. Teammates cleared away by officials who were gathered around him. Former Penn State teammate Marcus Allen was down on one knee. Allen was the one who ran into him. The replay is ugly, frankly. Left the field on a cart. In a good deal of pain, covering his face with a towel. A hard moment for Allen, too. Mike Tomlin came over to talk to him.
Brian Allen tried to gamble for the third time in as many games, actually getting close this time, but allowed the reception for a first down across midfield. Marcus Allen was flagged for unnecessary roughness at the end of the following play, a first-down reception. He missed a tackle on the following play to allow the first down and set up first and goal. The Panthers scored on the following play from two yards out.
With a 22-point lead and under 10 minutes to play, the Steelers started feeding the ball to Fanklin, gaining three yards on first and second down combined. Toussaint got the carried on a draw on third down for a short gain and a quick three-and-out.
The receiver got behind Brian Allen on a deep pass near the end zone, but the ball was just a bit out of range. He struggled to drag the back down on a checkdown for nine yards on the following play. Now third and one inside the 25, Marcus Allen made hit on the runner, but not before he gained the needed yard.
Now closing in on five minutes to play, Brian Allen very nearly missed another tackle after a receiver went to the ground after making the reception, taking a nonchalant approach to tagging him down. Bud Howard lost the ball after making a reception, dripping into the end zone. Farrington Huguegin looked like he should have been able to recover it, but the officials ruled that the Panthers recovered it–even though Huguenin came away from the pile with it. Marcus Allen was the player who knocked the ball out.
Franklin was good for seven yards on first down to the 32. Getting the ball again, he seemed to get three, but was credited with two to set up third and one. Franklin was hit in the backfield for a loss on the play, forcing a punt. Matt Wile boomed a deep one that was fair caught inside the 20. Matthew Thomas, who briefly left with a cramp on the previous drive, was back out there.
Keion Adams had a good pressure late, about the only thing of note to happen on the Panthers’ final drive. On fourth and 10, from the Steelers’ 24, the pass was not even close. Pittsburgh takes over and two kneed end the finale exhibition game of 2018.
The next game thread is going to be for one that actually counts.