Week 10 was kicked off at Heinz Field with a duel between two teams who were red-hot coming into this Thursday Night Football contest. The visiting Carolina Panthers were winners of their previous three games, with the host Pittsburgh Steelers winning their previous four.
Something had to give, and after the Panthers failed to nail the coin toss, the Steelers elected to defer to the second half, giving Cam Newton and company the football first to start the game.
It didn’t take the Panthers long to strike first. After three huge runs by Christian McCaffrey, the Steelers’ defense looked to have held the Panthers to a field goal, but Ron Rivera elected to go for it on 4th and 1. McCaffrey got two on the fourth down play, and following the first down Newton hit McCaffrey on a swing pass for a 20 yard touchdown. With less than 5 minutes gone in the first quarter, the Panthers took a 7-0 lead.
On the Steelers’ first play from scrimmage, Ben Roethlisberger hit JuJu Smith-Schuster over the top for a stunning 75 yard catch and run for a touchdown.
After the Chris Boswell point after, the game was tied 7-7 in the blink of an eye.
Newton and company took the field deep in their own end after a holding call on the ensuing kickoff. When Newton tried to roll to his right, he was met by T.J. Watt in the endzone. Rather than taking a sack for a safety, he tried to force the ball to a receiver, only to have it picked off by Vince Williams and returned for a touchdown.
In the blink of an eye, the Steelers went from trailing 7-0, to leading 14-7. After the Pittsburgh defense forced a three-and-out, and the Steelers did what they had been doing every time they got the ball — scored touchdowns.
On the team’s first real offensive drive, it was a beautiful mix of short passes to Antonio Brown, a JuJu Smith-Schuster reverse and several punishing James Conner runs. The drive was capped off when Conner rumbled into the endzone for a two-yard touchdown giving the Steelers a 21-7 lead.
1️⃣1️⃣th of the season. pic.twitter.com/twfdk8NKPD— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) November 9, 2018
The Panthers have the ball around midfield at the end of the first quarter.