With a lot of starters not seeing action, it was Dwayne Haskins and the Pittsburgh offense taking the field for the opening kickoff. However, a three-and-out sent Jordan Berry on the field for the first punt of the game.
Sam Darnold took over for the Carolina Panthers, and put together an impressive, and time consuming drive. Starting at their own 20-yard line, the Panthers worked their way deep into Pittsburgh territory, but failed on 4th down and turned the ball over on downs with nothing to show for their 13 play, 7:01 drive.
The Steelers’ offense remained inept with Haskins at the helm, and resulted in another three-and-out on their second possession. Pressley Harvin delivered a 48-yard punt, putting the Carolina back in their own territory for their second drive of the first quarter.
Darnold and company didn’t take as much time to move the ball into scoring range on their second drive; however, much like the first drive the offense stalled. Instead of going for it on 4th and short, the Panthers elected to kick a field goal. The 52-yard kick by Ryan Santoso banked in, making the score 3-0 at the end of the first quarter.
Haskins’ next drive was less than stellar as a pass intended for Derek Watt tipped off his hands and was intercepted. To start the second quarter the Carolina Panthers took over after the Haskins interception with tremendous field position. But after Chris Wormley and Jamir Jones harassed Sam Darnold, it resulted in another field goal attempt. This time the team wasn’t as lucky as the kick sailed wide right, giving the ball back to the Steelers.
After the Steelers’ first successful first down, a pass from Haskins to Chase Claypool, a botched snap ended the drive as fast as it started. Darnold and the Carolina starters remained in the game, but were unable to do anything with their possession.
Matthew Sexton muffed the ensuing punt, and it was recovered by the Panthers giving them starting field position in the red-zone. Two plays later Darnold threw a touchdown pass to make the score 10-0 with 8:27 left in the first half.
The Steelers’ next drive showed some signs of life, but ultimately fizzled and resulted in another Pressley Harvin punt. Inside of two minutes, it was Darnold carving up the Steelers’ defense. After quickly moving the ball into the red-zone, Darnold hit Robbie Anderson with 24 seconds left for the second Panthers touchdown of the half. The point-after was good, making the score 17-0 to end the half.
The Carolina Panthers received the football to start the second half, and they picked up right where they left off in the first half. In other words, they were able to orchestrate another impressive drive which was capped off this time with a 10-yard touchdown run. The extra point made the score 24-0 with just over 12 minutes left in the third quarter.
Just as the Panthers picked up where they left off, so did the abysmal Steelers offense. Dwayne Haskins stayed in the game, and was unable to do anything with the offense resulting in yet another punt by Jordan Berry. At this stage of the game, the Steelers offense was 0-for-5 on third down plays.
Both teams exchanged possessions, and this with Joshua Dobbs taking over for the Steelers’ offense. However, it was Dobbs’ second drive which resulted in the first points of the night. After Dobbs go the Steelers their first 3rd down conversion of the game with his legs, it ended with a Chris Boswell kick to make the score 24-3 with 1:38 left in the third quarter.
In the final quarter, Will Grier took over at quarterback and orchestrated a touchdown drive of his own. In the red-zone the former WVU Mountaineer used his legs for the latest Panthers’ touchdown The extra point made the score 31-3 with 11:26 left in regulation.
At one point it looked like Carolina might be running the game out, but the Steelers’ defense stood tall on more than one occasion. For some reason, Dwayne Haskins came back into the game, but a Tony Brooks-James fumble gave the ball right back to the Panthers’ offense.
The Panthers were able to turn the turnover into another field goal, making the score 34-3 with 3:22 left in regulation. The score would hold, with the Panthers getting a decisive win in the preseason contest.
With Dobbs injured, Haskins took over with 2 minutes left, and was able to execute a beautiful two-minute drill. The drive was capped off with a touchdown pass to Ray-Ray McCloud. The Chris Boswell point after was no good, making the score 34-9.
The Steelers’ loss made their preseason record 3-1 as they now turn their attention to the Buffalo Bills in Week 1 of the 2021 regular season. Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they trim their roster to 53, and more.