Carolina closed out an inglorious 0-4 preseason with a 21-10 loss to Pittsburgh Thursday night at Bank of America Stadium.
The Steelers led, 14-0, in the first quarter and mostly coasted after that. Both teams' starters were off the field before halftime. Pittsburgh scored its TDs on an 80-yard punt return, a 10-yard run and a 31-yard interception return of an errant Matt Moore pass.
The only Carolina TD came on a 1-yard run by Canadian Jamall Lee. John Kasay added a field goal. Rookie running back Mike Goodson again flashed some major potential but lost another fumble, this time inside the Pittsburgh 5.
The Panthers open the regular season Sept.13 against Philadelphia at home -- a scary prospect at the moment.
I posted some of these thoughts earlier on this blog, but in case you missed them, here's a brief rundown of what happened when the game mattered -- i.e. when the Panther starters were still in the game.
Panthers offense: Two series and one total first down. One dropped pass (by Muhsin Muhammad). One third-and-1 run that lost two yards. One sack of Jake Delhomme. One tipped Delhomme pass at the line. One first down (a pass to Muhammad). No touches for Steve Smith.
Panthers defense: Two series. One excellent three-and-out (while facing Ben Roethlisberger in his only action – he threw one pass before leaving). One horrid touchdown allowed.
On the TD, the Carolina D allowed Pittsburgh’s third-string running back Isaac Redman to roll right through five attempted tackles for a 10-yard scoring run. Among the men who missed or bounced off Redman: safety Chris Harris and defensive end Julius Peppers. And bear in mind, that was Pittsburgh's second-team offense out there blocking, too.
On that desultory note, the Panther defense was done for the night. It was 14-0, Pittsburgh, when the last Panther starter left the field. In other words, it was par for the course during this Carolina preseason.
However, John Fox was happier with the defense than most fans probably were. He said after the game: "I thought defensively we were much better."
-- Pittsburgh’s other early touchdown came courtesy of an 80-yard punt return by the Steelers’ Stefan Logan. Logan completed that run only 100 seconds into the game and was greeted by an onslaught of Terrible Towels – at least one third of the fans in attendance seemed to be for the Steelers. They all were having a good time, at least, on a gorgeous night for football.
-- Again, Panther rookie Mike Goodson (79 rushing yards, including a 22-yard run where he reversed field completely) looked very good at times but his fumbling problems continued – he lost one inside the Pittsburgh 5 in the second quarter.
-- The best individual play made by any Panther in the first half was a beautiful one-handed catch by tight end Dante Rosario that would have resulted in about a 25-yard gain. Sadly, it was nullified by an illegal motion penalty on Kenneth Moore.
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