10 days ago they played like a team that couldn’t get out of their way. Sunday night in Carolina, they looked like a legit contender in the AFC again.
Three games into 2014, the Steelers are 2-1 following a somewhat surprising 37-19 stomping of the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte.
The win seemed downright shocking based on how poorly the team played in Baltimore in a 26-6 loss a week ago Thursday, and Sunday night seemed like a totally different group.
“I ain’t trying to crown them tonight,” Mike Tomlin said of his team. “They did what was necessary, I like the effort, they hung together, they went into a hostile environment and won versus a good group.”
The win was cemented by 28 second half points, with a run game that ran over what many feel is the best front 7 in the NFL. Le’Veon Bell had 21 rushes for 147 yards with an 81 yard run that put the Steelers in position to go up at the time 23-6.
Combined with a solid night from LeGarrette Blount (118 yards on 10 carries), the run game put up 264 yards on 34 carries (7.8 yards per rush), a staggering number that shows how good this offense can be when it’s clicking.
“We have two guys that we feel good about,” Tomlin said of the run game. “I think it’s just about opportunity, I don’t think we have doubts of what that tandem is capable of in terms of running the football.”
The Steelers D held Cam Newton and the Panthers in check all night, with Newton being beat up by a healthy dose of blitzes and pressure. Newton was 24-for-35 for 250 yards, but was rather ineffective most of the night.
The injury bug did hit the Steelers hard, as it appears Ike Taylor is done for the foressable future after breaking his forearm after being hit by teammate Lawrence Timmons.
Jarvis Jones left the game with a wrist injury, and LB Ryan Shazier also left with a knee injury. Neither player returned after leaving with their injuries.
Ben Roethlisberger was 22-for-30 for 196 yards with a pair of scores, both to Antonio Brown who had 10 grabs for 90 yards.
With the win, the Steelers are tied with Baltimore at 2-1 good for second in the AFC North, one game behind the undefeated Bengals. The Browns are last in the division at 1-2.
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