Ben Roethlisberger starred to lead the Pittsburgh Steelers to a 52-21 thrashing of the Carolina Panthers in the NFL on Thursday.
Both the Steelers and Panthers had to quickly recover from wins on Sunday to face each other at Heinz Field. But, only one backed up their week-nine victory with another big performance.
The Steelers scored three touchdowns in less than five minutes to build an early lead in the first quarter and rode that to a big win over the Panthers. Pittsburgh have now tallied five straight victories.
The Steelers scored on all but two drives, and one ended in Roethlisberger taking a knee to end the half. He was perfect, running back James Conner continued to impress and the once-hot Panthers froze in Pittsburgh.
Carolina's streak ends
Carolina had every intention of going toe-to-toe with the team in control of the AFC North.
The Panthers were riding a three-game winning streak, including a 42-28 victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They posted 78 points in their last two games, and at least 30 or more points in four of their last six. Carolina have weapons like quarterback Cam Newton and running back Christian McCaffrey, plus a defense studded with the likes of Eric Reid.
But, against the streaking Steelers, they could not get it done.
Carolina started the game with their first opening-drive touchdown in 10 games, but then turnovers, consecutive punts and another turnover halted any momentum they had.
.@CameronNewton tosses to @run__cmc for the Carolina TD!— NFL (@NFL) November 9, 2018
60 total yards for McCaffrey on the @Panthers' opening drive. #KeepPounding #CARvsPIT
: @nflnetwork + @NFLonFOX
+: https://t.co/DJUityQHC9 pic.twitter.com/bUZFqeK242
Newton, who had completed nearly 70 per cent of his passes during the team's win streak, finished 23-of-29 passing for 193 yards and two touchdowns. He threw one interception and was sacked five times. It was his lowest output since week three (150 yards) and the most times he has been brought down all season.
It's amazing what you can do with a good O-line
It seemed like Roethlisberger had all the time in the world, and that is because he did.
The Steelers' gave their play-caller so much protection, he was able to dominate.
He was perfect, literally.
Roethlisberger finished with a perfect passer rating (158.3) after completing 22 of his 25 passes for 328 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions. He connected with nine different receivers, including team leaders Antonio Brown (96 yards) and JuJu Smith-Schuster (90).
Panthers have McCaffrey, but Steelers have Conner
There have been reports that Le'Veon Bell is in Pittsburgh and could return to the team by Tuesday's deadline. But, even if Bell ends his prolonged holdout, the Steelers have another player in the backfield that has carried the weight of the team's run game.
The running back matchup between McCaffrey and Conner featured some of the best talent in the NFL this season. While McCaffrey made up a bulk of Carolina's yards and all three scores on Thursday, it was Conner who continued to steal the show, which leaves many to wonder: If Bell does return, will he replace his replacement?
Conner finished the game with 13 carries for 65 yards and a touchdown. The score was his 10th of the year, more than Bell has ever recorded in a single season (nine).
The touchdown resulted in Conner and Brown becoming the first pair of team-mates with 10 or more touchdowns each in their team's first nine games since Abner Haynes and Chris Burford did it for the 1962 Chiefs.
He did leave the game in the fourth quarter to be evaluated for a possible concussion. He was listed as questionable, and with the team's 38-point lead at the time of his exit, it was unlikely he would return to the field anyway.
|Ravens´ Flacco doubtful, Jackson could start|
|Ramsey reiterates he wants to stay with Jaguars despite cryptic tweet|
|Rodgers: Packers still believe they can make playoffs|
|Mahomes hoping to ketchup to Heinz´s touchdown target|
|Seahawks rally past Packers|
|This Week in U.S. Sports: LeBron passes Chamberlain, Williamson looking like he is next|
|TJ Watt hopes to win NFL sacks race with brother JJ|
|Steelers´ Roethlisberger texted Bell but ´didn’t hear back´|
|Rams v Chiefs moved to LA due to Mexico City field conditions|
|Bell fails to report to Steelers, will sit out rest of season|
|Hue Jackson joins Bengals staff as ´special assistant´|
|Giants too good for 49ers in crunch time|
|Rams WR Kupp out for season with torn ACL|
|Saints sign Marshall following Bryant injury|
|Norman says Washington home crowds ´just don´t really care´|
|Titans stun Patriots, Browns upset Falcons|
|Browns´ Chubb relishes record-breaking performance: It definitely is very special|
|Fitzgerald overtakes Owens in career receiving yards|
|Brees leapfrogs Favre on all-time list for touchdown passes|
|Jones fastest in NFL to reach 10,000 receiving yards|
|Mahomes breaks Chiefs´ single-season TD record|
|The Sunday Seven - 7 Key Opta facts for NFL Week 10|
|Shanahan discusses Giants-49ers matchup amid possible postponement|
|Gronkowski, Michel ´questionable´ for Pats|
|Panthers safety Reid puzzled by ejection|
|Roethlisberger helps Steelers thrash Panthers|
|This Week in U.S. Sports: Dez Bryant finds a home, Bryce Harper turns down big offer|
|Manning focused on much-needed Giants win|
|Eagles´ Jenkins: Defending champions relish being underdogs again|
|Cowboys running back Elliott calls matchup with Eagles a must-win game|
|Saints sign Bryant to one-year contract|
|Atlanta Falcons swoop to sign Bruce Irvin|
|Niners QB Mullens to keep starting role against Giants|
|Aikman calls for ´complete overhaul´ of Cowboys|
|Titans too good for Cowboys|
|Packers WR Allison dealing with ´pretty big injury´|
|Arians would only come out of retirement for Browns job|
|Bell bids farewell to Florida in cryptic tweet|
|Brady, Belichick laud Patriots defense as Rodgers comes up short|
|McVay takes blame as Rams run ends in Saints defeat|
|Brady and Patriots beat Rodgers´ Packers|
|Texans, Chargers extend winning streaks|
|Falcons WR Jones finally ends touchdown drought|
|Rodgers v Brady: Packers star finally has superior support in battle of modern greats|
|Thielen v Megatron - How NFL receiving history makers compare|
|Pursuing Peyton: How does Mahomes´ 2018 stack up against Manning´s record-breaking 2013?|
|Shula fails to match father, Spagnuolo suffers in St. Louis - Hue Jackson & the worst coaches in NFL|
|Mullens helps 49ers past Raiders|
|Jackson discusses Browns firing, says he would´ve turned offense around|
|Jets to be very active in NFL offseason|
|This Week in U.S. Sports: Red Sox win World Series while Bama is No. 1|
|Beathard backup as Mullens starts against Raiders|
|I´m not getting the job done, admits Winston|
|Osweiler hoping to remain Dolphins´ starting QB when Tannehill returns|
|J.J. Watt surprising himself with return to Defensive Player of Year form|
|High-flying Rams bring in Fowler from Jaguars|
|Lions send Tate to Eagles|
|Texans acquire WR Thomas from Broncos|
|Rodgers inspires me - Brady|
|NFL announces four London games for 2019|
|Patriots grind out win over Bills|
|Browns fire coach Hue Jackson & offensive coordinator Todd Haley|
|Saints overcome Vikings for sixth straight win|
|Rams remain perfect after win over Packers|
|´It was a must-win´ - Long delighted with Eagles´ victory|
|Marrone shoulders responsibility for Jags quartet´s brush with the law|
|Eagles kicker Elliott: Wembley pitch was ´beat up´|
|Jags suffer London loss as Wentz throws three TDs in Eagles win|
|Bears´ Khalil Mack ruled out of Jets game with ankle injury|
|Wade to pursue NFL career after rugby union retirement|