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Steelers Run Past Panthers 37-19 To Improve To 2-1

Pittsburgh Steelers v Carolina Panthers

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.

Matt Loede has been in the sports media for over 16 years, with experience covering the MLB, NBA, and NFL. On Sunday’s during football season, you can hear Matt on national networks like Fox Sports Radio, Associated Press, and others. Born and raised in Cleveland Ohio, Matt studies and talks football inside and out, and is anxious to share his thoughts and comments with readers on a daily basis.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. DrGeorge

    September 22, 2014 at 9:14 am

    How nice it is to be proved wrong! The point spread (18 points) was as wide as expected, but the Steelers were on the winning end for a change, 37-19. Better yet, the team won by running the football, using the run to set up a very effective passing game. And Ben R. has finally begun to throw short and quickly, making our O-line look better in pass protection than it is. As Bell said several days before the game, “we need more balance.” He was lobbying for more carries, but he was right about the need for balance. And the team showed balance in this win. Our rushing yards exceeded our passing yards, and we now sport a 2-1 record. The fans are jubilant, euphoric even. And with the Bucs, Jaguars, Browns, and Texans just ahead, we have a realistic chance of being 6-1 or at least 5-2 after seven games. Happy days are here again.

    Well, not so fast. Sweet as it is, this victory is not all garlands and roses. Consider this:
    1. One of the TDs was handed to us when the Panthers dribbled the ball into the end zone. Without that cheap score, the winning margin would be only 11 points.
    2. Our 264 yards rushing is a stat inflated by Bell and Blount’s long runs of 81 and 50 yards respectively on fine individual efforts. Without those two runs, our rushing would total only 133 yards. The O-line did execute much better than it has in ages, and Munchak deserves a ton of credit for the improvement, but the line still didn’t move bodies when we needed to run in the red zone and in short yardage. A good O-line can make holes when the D knows the run is coming; our O-line still can’t do that. We had to settle for three field goals instead of TDs in the first half.
    3. Our D was much improved and stopped the Panthers vaunted attack most of the time until we lost Ryan Shazier, Jarvis Jones, and Ike Taylor to injuries. Tomlin has labelled those injuries “significant,” which does not bode well for the future. Moates and Spence played well in their stead, but William Gay, a solid nickel back, still struggles as a CB. LeBeau will have to work overtime this week to retool the D, and for the foreseeable future we will be playing D with back-ups at key positions. Our “soft” schedule suddenly looks a lot more challenging.
    4. Conversely, we scored against a Panthers D that lacked key players due to discipline (Hardy) and delibilating injuries to several players. We did not beat the Panthers at their best.

    So, let’s enjoy the victory, but temper our expecations. Just as we weren’t as bad as we looked in Baltimore eleven days ago, we aren’t as good as we looked in Charlotte last night.

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