Most thought it was going to be a Carolina Panthers blowout because of their high-powered offense, while others thought the Steelers had a slim chance at pulling off an upset. Well, as the adage goes, that is why you play the game. Because every person who thought the Panthers would run roughshod over the Steelers, are probably still stunned to silence as it was the Steelers who blew out the Panthers 52-21 in front of a Thursday Night Football audience and a Heinz Field crowd of 62,881.
“Really big performance against a really good team on a short week.” Said Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin. “So, there is a lot to be proud of, but we are probably not that good. You get games like that sometimes. The ball gets rolling downhill, we are appreciative of it.”
The way the game started, it was the Panthers rolling the ball downhill as QB Cam Newton and the Panthers stormed down the field on the Steelers with mostly runs by RB Christian McCaffery, who even scored their first TD to give the Panthers a 7-0 lead. But the Steelers offense wasn’t stunned. In fact, they were motivated as QB Ben Roethlisberger’s first pass resulted in a 75-yard TD to WR JuJu Smith-Shuster to tie the game at 7.
But the Steelers weren’t done: After a holding penalty on the Panthers return team, Steelers LB TJ Watt rushed Newton in the end zone and he threw a desperation pass that landed into the hands of LB Vince Williams, who returned it 17 yards for the TD to give the Steelers a 14-7 lead. And the rest is history. The Steelers had 31 points at halftime, 38 points at the end of the 3rd quarter, and 52 by the time the game ended. A good ‘old fashioned spanking and their 52 points are the most the Steelers ever scored in Heinz Field.
The Steelers have tied a franchise record with 7 different players scoring a touchdown. The only other time it happened was November 30, 1952, against the Giants, when Pittsburgh scored a franchise-record 63 points despite committing 5 turnovers.
Roethlisberger had a huge game as he passed for 328 yards and was 22-25 which is good for a 158.3 rating, which is perfect for a QB. He also passed for 5 TDs, one to WR Antonio Brown (96 yards on 6 receptions), TE Vance McDonald (44 yards), TE Jesse James, rookie RB Jaylen Samuels and Smith-Shuster.
RB James Conner had 61 yards and a TD, but Steelers HC Mike Tomlin used him less as the Steelers lead increased. Conner is also in concussion protocol after sustaining a hit in the second half.
The defense was pretty superb also, as they only gave up 21 points (7 after the game was decided) they sacked Newton 5 times (DE Cam Newton recorded 2), and the special teams recovered a fumble. It was an all-around complete game for the Steelers who won their 5th consecutive game and improve their record to 6-2-1 and continue to remain in first place in the AFC North Division.
The Steelers will have a few days to rest before they resume play November 18th when they travel to Jacksonville to take on the Jaguars, in a rematch of the 2017 AFC Divisional Round Game in which the Steelers lost 45-42.
“I like the contributions from a lot of people.” Said Tomlin “We came into tonight with a mentality that we had to play everyone in a helmet, that’s just part of short week football and I thought everyone came with that spirit and got contributions from a lot of people.”
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Steelers Post-Game Notes: (Provided by Pittsburgh Steelers Public Relations)
• The Steelers set a Heinz Field record for the most points by an NFL team with 52, surpassing their previous stadium best of 51 (Oct. 26, 2014 vs. Indianapolis, 51-34).
• Pittsburgh’s 52 points is the team’s seventh game in team history with at least 50 points – tying as the fourth-most in franchise history.
• Pittsburgh improved to 6-2-1 in 2018 (3-2 at Heinz Field) and to 3-0 against NFC South opponents.
• The Steelers have won each of their previous five games, dating back to Oct. 7 vs. Atlanta.
• Pittsburgh has won each of its previous five games against NFC opponents, dating back to Oct. 29, 2017, at Detroit.
• The Steelers are now 6-1 in regular-season series history against the Panthers and 4-0 in Pittsburgh.
• Pittsburgh has won each of the previous six regular-season games in the series against Carolina.
• Pittsburgh has won each of its last seven games in the month of November, dating back to Nov. 20, 2016, at Cleveland.
• Pittsburgh is now 26-8 at Heinz Field in primetime games since the stadium opened in 2001, and 8-1 on Thursday Night Football at Heinz Field.
• The Steelers are 463-287-3 during the regular season since 1970.
• Mike Tomlin and Ben Roethlisberger now have 112 regular-season wins together – the most by a Steelers Head Coach-Quarterback in team history and tied for the third-most by a HC-QB tandem in NFL history (Bill Belichick-Tom Brady: 203, Don Shula-Dan Marino: 116, Sean Payton-Drew Brees: 112 and Chuck Noll-Terry Bradshaw: 107).
• QB Ben Roethlisberger connected with WR JuJu Smith-Schuster for a 75-yard touchdown on the team’s first play from scrimmage – marking the longest first play from scrimmage by the Steelers in team history (previous: 72 yards, multiple times, last Nov. 17, 2002, at Tennessee: Tommy Maddox to Hines Ward).
• The Steelers scored 52 points – the team’s third straight game at Heinz Field in 2018 with at least 30 points, tying as the third-longest streak of consecutive home games with at least 30 points.
• Pittsburgh recorded its fifth game of the 2018 season with at least 30 points.
• The Steelers scored 21 points in the first quarter – the first 20-point opening period of a game by the team since Oct. 2, 2016, vs. Kansas City (22 points).
• Pittsburgh scored on 7-of-10 possessions in the game and converted 8-of-11 third-downs.
Head Coach Mike Tomlin
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Carolina Panthers
Heinz Field ▪ Thursday, November 8, 2018
Opening statement: Really big performance against versus a really good team on a short week so there is a lot to be proud of, but we are probably not that good. You get games like that sometimes. The ball gets rolling down hill, we are appreciative of it. It was a great atmosphere tonight. Man, we’ll enjoy this long weekend and get ready to roll up our sleeves and fight again but great night tonight, great atmosphere, Steeler Nation was out. Not a lot to speak of from an injury standpoint. James Conner is in the protocol, but I do not know to what extent. I am sure we’ll have more information the next time we come together. The rest are just bumps and bruises associated with play. I like the contributions from a lot of people. We came into tonight with a mentality that we had to play everyone in a helmet, that’s just part of short week football and I thought everyone came with that spirit and got contributions from a lot of people. The distribution of the football on offense is reflective of that.
Can you elaborate on the depth you talked about earlier in the week, can you talk about your two deep?
I am not making more out of it than what it is. We believe that every man can be a valuable component of our success. We stated that before the game, that was our intentions and they did. We are appreciative of their efforts and we expect it. They are all professional and they prepare like it. They need to be prepared when their number is called. They are generally, and they were tonight.
The first play with JuJu Smith-Schuster, how much can one play dictate the flow of the game and outcome?
Well it was the first play of the game so obviously,
there is going to be some gas when you score in one play, but we’ve seen that so many times. There is too much ball after that to think that is the defining moment. It’s not. It was a great moment but whether it was positive or negative the games are never defined by plays that occur that early.
Re: How far have you come in the possession downs after struggling with Baltimore in that area
I don’t know if that is distance we covered or if that was just a bad outing – that first Baltimore game from a possession down standpoint. Largely we have been solid, but that game was not and that’s probably the moral of the story. We can’t have those type of days. You have those type games, you’ll lose football games.
Can you speak on the pressure on the quarterback that had impact on the game?
Before you get an opportunity to put pressure on them you have to minimize the run game. That’s the number two running team in football. He’s dangerous [Cam Newton], [Christian] McCaffrey’s dangerous. The big thing is I thought we kind of got that under control after the first drive and once we got that under control then we had opportunities to rush but you saw that first drive you saw how they went down the field. There was not a lot of opportunities to rush there because they were running the ball effectively so once we go that settled down it provided the opportunities.
You had seven different guys score touchdowns, was that game plan just Ben [Roethlisberger] finding the open man?
It was good execution, but you know to a degree like I said earlier. The ball was rolling downhill tonight. You’d like to think that you are that good but you’re not.
Re: Antonio Browns growth over the years
I am just reviewing the game. I am not talking broad brush things such as that. He’s been playing a long time that is what professionals do.
What is important for Chris Boswell to hit the 50-yard field goal?
It was important for me. I don’t know if it was for him, but I enjoyed it
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