At kickoff of the Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Carolina Panthers game, we were expecting one of the best Thursday Night Football matchups of the year. Five minutes into the game, that still seemed like it was going to be true.
But pretty quickly after that, the game turned into a Steelers blowout that ended in a 52-21 beatdown of the Panthers that wasn’t even that close. As Cam Newton said after the game, “We just got whooped.” The Steelers won their fifth game in a row and the Panthers are now 0-4 all-time at Heinz Field.
Here’s a by-the-numbers look at how the Steelers (6-2-1) dominated the Panthers (6-3).
9: The Panthers’ opening drive was an impressive nine-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that started them off with a 7-0 lead. That lead would hold for seven seconds and would be the only time the Panthers had the lead all night.
75: It took a single play for the Steelers to answer Newton’s 20-yard touchdown pass to Christian McCaffrey as Ben Roethlisberger threw a 75-yard touchdown pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster on Pittsburgh’s first offensive play of the game.
13: The Steelers scored 14 points in 13 seconds as the Panthers took the field following Smith-Schuster’s score and abruptly watched Newton turn a near-safety into a Vince Williams pick-six. The Steelers linebacker ran the ball back 17 yards for the score.
Here is a picture of a man thinking, “oh no, I’m about to make a terrible decision.” Or at least that’s what we’d have to assume. And no, this ball isn’t going to Greg Olsen as the photo makes it seem — that’s the throw that resulted in Newton’s interception.
11: James Conner’s first-quarter two-yard touchdown run marked his 11th score of the season, 10 of which have come on the ground. Le’Veon Bell has never had more than nine rushing touchdowns in an entire season and his season high is 11 scrimmage touchdowns. That is what Conner now has through nine games.
As far as total yardage, Conner still has a ways to go to match Bell’s totals. Conner has 771 rushing yards and 387 receiving yards this season. Bell’s career highs in both rushing and receiving yards came in the 2014 season with 1,361 rushing yards and 854 receiving yards.
It’ll be interesting to see how Conner’s season continues with Bell potentially returning next week. Though, it’s also possible that Bell fails to report by Tuesday, which is the deadline for him to sign his franchise tag. That will enable him to play this year and end his holdout. Conner left to be evaluated for a concussion in the fourth quarter and did not return, though the game was well out of hand at the time.
50: Steelers kicker Chris Boswell converted his longest field goal of the year (50 yards) in the second quarter.
158.3: Roethlisberger had a perfect passer rating at halftime after going 12 of 13 for 234 yards and two touchdowns in the first two quarters. Pretty amazingly, he kept up his impressive play in the second half and finished the game with the same passer rating. It was the first time since 2007 that he ended a game with a 158.3 rating.
Big Ben completed 22 of 25 passes for 328 yards and five touchdowns in the three quarters (and one play in the fourth quarter) that he played. He joins Russell Wilson and Jared Goff as the quarterbacks to finish a game with a perfect passer rating this season.
11:01: Time remaining on the clock when the Steelers put in Josh Dobbs at quarterback. With a 52-14 score, there was no need to keep Roethlisberger in the game, and the Panthers should have pulled Newton for his own safety, too. For some reason, they took out center Ryan Kalil but were content to keep Newton in.
This was the general Twitter sentiment:
WHY IS CAM NEWTON STILL IN THE GAME?
— Geoff Schwartz (@geoffschwartz) November 9, 2018
1: Ejections as Panthers safety Eric Reid was disqualified in the third quarter “for unnecessary roughness for forcible contact to the head and neck area of a sliding quarterback.” Reid was controversially sent to the locker room after coming into contact with Roethlisberger on a play during which the quarterback ran for an 18-yard gain.
6:21: Time remaining on the clock when the Steelers received their first and only penalty of the game. It came as Artie Burns was called for defensive pass interference. Two plays later, McCaffrey scored his third (and the Panthers’ third) touchdown of the game. McCaffrey is the third player in Panthers history with three straight games of multiple touchdowns (Ted Ginn, 2015 and Lamar Smith, 2002), per ESPN Stats & Info.
9: McCaffrey now holds the record for the most career receiving touchdowns (nine) by a running back in Panthers history. He scored one rushing and two receiving touchdowns in the Panthers’ loss and had 138 scrimmage yards in the game.
5: The Steelers defense notched five sacks on Newton with two coming from Cam Heyward. T.J. Watt had a sack, too, and was pressuring Newton when he threw his only interception of the game.
52: The most points the Steelers have ever scored at Heinz Field and their point total at the end of the 52-21 throttling.