The Pittsburgh Steelers and Carolina Panthers have an annual tradition in the preseason. For the majority of Mike Tomlin’s tenure in the NFL, the Steelers and Panthers have met up in the 4th week of the preseason.
They did so on Thursday night with the starters watching, and players like Joshua Dobbs and Marcus Allen out to prove they are worthy of a roster spot when the team cuts their roster from 90 players to 53 by 4 p.m. ET on Saturday.
The Steelers started with the football, and newly acquired Ryan Switzer delivered a 20-yard return to get the game underway. As Dobbs went under center, it was his mobility which created opportunities for the offense, but once they moved across midfield it was Dobbs’ arm which started to move the football.
After strikes to Justin Hunter and Bucky Hodges the Steelers were set up with 1st down inside the 10-yard line. On second down, Dobbs kept the ball on a zone read play and leaped into the endzone for the Steelers touchdown.
It's a bird!— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 30, 2018
It's a plane! pic.twitter.com/jgWfhbkqqW
Chris Boswell’s extra point gave the Steelers an early 7-0 lead.
The Steelers’ defense was sporting only two starters in Javon Hargrave and Jon Bostic, and the group of backups did their job by forcing a punt on the Panthers’ opening drive.
After a Ryan Switzer fair catch, Dobbs went deep to Justin Hunter for a big completion and putting the Steelers into Carolina territory. After a Damoun Patterson reverse, Dobbs hit Tevon Jones for the Steelers’ touchdown. 3-play drive, 1:35 to travel 86-yards for the score.
Boswell tacked on another point-after to make the score 14-0.
Not to be outdone, the Panthers put together an impressive drive of their own to start the second quarter. 12 plays, 81-yards and before you knew it the score was 14-7.
After a series of punts by both teams, and two really sketchy personal foul calls on the Panthers’ defense, the Steelers found themselves in the red-zone again. However, the Steelers weren’t able to convert the gift into nothing more than a Boswell field goal to make the score 17-7 with 5-minutes left in the half.
The next Carolina possession resulted in an Ola Adeniyi strip sack which was recovered by Keion Adams, setting up the offense just outside the red-zone with 1:50 left in the half.
Mason Rudolph took over at quarterback, and on 3rd-and-20, after what fans thought was a Damoun Patterson touchdown was overturned, Rudolph hit Tevin Jones for a touchdown strike.
After a defensive foul on the extra point try, the Steelers chose to go for the two-point conversion, and Rudolph was able to scamper into the endzone to make the score 25-7 heading into halftime.
To start the second half, the Steelers’ defense looked as if they had stymied the Panthers’ offense once again, but on 3rd-and-6 Matthew Thomas was called for an unnecessary roughness call, which kept the drive alive and equated to a Graham Gano 54-yard field goal, making the score 25-10.
Mason Rudolph continued his stellar play on the next drive, and after another big pass play to Tevin Jones, Rudolph scrambled right and threw back across his body to hit Quadree Henderson wide open in the end zone for his second touchdown pass of the night.
Another Boswell point-after made the score 32-10 deep in the third quarter.
During the Panthers’ next offensive possession, rookie Matthew Thomas delivered a strip sack, and was able to coral the football and rumble down the field to the one-yard line before being caught from behind.
Two plays later Jarvion Franklin bulldozed a defensive lineman for the one-yard touchdown run. Boswell added the extra point to make the score 39-10.
The Panthers answered the score with one of their own, making the score 39-17 midway through the 4th quarter.
With just 5-minutes left in the game, the Carolina offense was again able to drive down the field and add another touchdown on the board. The Gano extra point made the score 39-24 heading into the waning minutes of the preseason finale.
The score would hold, giving Pittsburgh the victory.
The victory moved the Steelers’ preseason record to 3-1 as the team now turns their attention from meaningless games to Week 1 of the regular season when Pittsburgh will travel to Cleveland to play the Browns in the season opener.
In the meantime, the team has until Saturday at 4:00 p.m. ET to trim their roster from 90 players to 53, so stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes on the black-and-gold with the preseason now over.