I wish I could say the Panthers put up a bold fight but honestly this one was over in the 1st quarter. The Steelers displayed the type of vertical passing game the Panthers had in years past. In those days Steve Smith was a threat to go deep on any play. These days he catches a couple sideline passes and calls it a day.
The Panthers offense looked pretty good on its first two drives, going 42 and 25 yards, both times falling just short of FG range. That was about as good as it would get for the offense until the 4th quarter. Clausen threw a pick, got sacked multiple times and got no help from his WRs, who dropped multiple catchable balls. I don't think Clausen helped himself much this game but his NFL education continues for another week.
The defense was simply over matched in the secondary. When a 7th round rookie CB (McClain) is covering the opposing #1 receiver singled up you're asking for trouble. Big Ben was the difference as he confounded the Panthers with his ability to get the ball away with defenders seemingly latched on to him. He had 240 yards passing the first half when this game was won.
The LBs couldn't keep up TE Heath Miller from getting 5+ catches for 70 plus yards. They did do a good job of shutting down the run after a long run on the Steelers first possession.
Here's a box score link.
Here's some quick hits:
- RB Jonathan Stewart posted 73 yards on 18 carries (4.0 ypc) but seemed to lose his muster in the 1st half. He did though give us another highlight reel paly when he stiff arm slammed LB James Farrior to the ground (Pictured!) Can you say Posterized!
- DE Charles Johnson notched 2 more sacks to run his streak to six straight games with a sack or more. Johnson is looking beastly; the Panthers would be stupid to let him test free agency
When I watch other teams make the vertical passing game look so easy I wonder what the hell happened in Carolina? We used to be a deep threat but not this season, not for a while.
When this season is over we need to have a big bon fire and burn the Panther playbook in effigy.