Panthers pounded 52-21 in ugly loss vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Panthers found themselves in a hole and never recovered.
Although this was a game that started off strong, it quickly turned ugly for the Carolina Panthers. They played uninspired football on Thursday as they lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers by a score. In a game that was thought to be crucial for the team under the primetime lights, they folded. The Panthers looked as though they couldn’t handle the spotlight. In the meantime, the Steelers played inspired football and showed the rest of the National Football League that they are a force to be reckoned with.
In the first quarter, the Panthers jumped out to an early lead. Christian McCaffrey took a 20-yard pass from the arm of Cam Newton to start off the scoring for the Panthers. It ended a smooth nine-play, 75-yard drive that took four minutes and 31 seconds off the clock. The Steelers would strike back quickly though, as it would only take them one play to find the end zone. The score became tied thanks to a 75-yard touchdown pass from the arm of Ben Roethlisberger to the hands of JuJu Smith-Schuster. James Bradberry got burned on the play and gave the Steelers some momentum back.
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The defense for the Steelers would be the ones to continue the team’s upward swing. Vince Williams intercepted a Newton pass and took it 17 yards to the house to make it a 14-7 game in favor of Pittsburgh. The play was bad from the start, as the offensive line got completely overwhelmed by the Steelers defensive front, not allowing Newton time to throw. This would be a theme that would continue throughout the game. After more stalled the drives on the part of the Panthers, the Steelers would add yet another score to their tally. This time, it was running back James Conner who would do the honors. He concluded an eight-play, 61-yard drive. He took the ball from two yards out to make it a 21-7 game with four minutes and 35 seconds left in the first quarter.
The second quarter was not much better for the Panthers. Chris Boswell extended the lead for the Steelers kicking a 50-yard field goal to make it 24-7. That ended a nine- play, 60-yard drive and took a little over five minutes off the clock. McCaffrey continued to provide a spark for Carolina. He was on the receiving end of a Newton pass and took the ball 25 yards to the house to cut the Panther deficit to 24-14. The momentum that the Panthers gained as a result of the score was quickly stifled as the Steelers answered back. This time, it was Antonio Brown on the receiving end of a Ben Roethlisberger heave and the former took it 53 yards to the house to make it a 31-14 game heading into halftime.
Coming out of the locker room, many Panthers fans hoped that the intermission would lead to a renewed team ready to fight. Instead, the same things that put the team behind in the first half continued in the second. The Steelers meanwhile continued to put their foot on the gas adding insult to injury by scoring a couple more touchdowns in the third quarter. Vance McDonald took a pass from Roethlisberger and took and 12 yards to paydirt to make it 38-14 in favor of Pittsburgh. Throughout the remainder of the quarter, it was a defensive battle as neither side seemed to want to give an inch. Quite frankly, it was nice to see the Panthers defense show a little bit of fight, as that was something they had been lacking for the majority of the game. With 18 seconds left in the first quarter, the Steelers found the end zone again via the tight end. Jesse James caught an eight-yard pass for a touchdown to make it a 45-14 game.
The fourth quarter would see the Steelers score once more, as Jaylen Samuels caught a six-yard pass from Roethlisberger to make it a 52-14 game. A one-yard run on the part of McCaffrey would make the score a bit more respectable, but nevertheless this was an ugly loss. Especially on prime time, many had hoped the Panthers would put forth a better performance.
Newton finished the game going 23-of-29 for 193 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. Christian McCaffrey led the Panthers in rushing, carrying the ball 14 times for 77 yards and a touchdown. He was also the Panthers leading receiver, catching five passes for 61 yards and two touchdowns.
Defensively, Eric Reid led Carolina with nine tackles. The Panthers are set to take on the Lions next Sunday at 1 PM. I would expect them to put forth a much better performance than I saw tonight as usually they do not string together two bad games in a row. They just need to put this one behind them and move forward.